From July 3 2008:

My temperature is rising!

If you recall, my last egroup was written in Juli, Peru as I waited
for Ward to return from Puno. He had to take a local bus back to
Puno to use their ATM to obtain American dollars to cross the border
into Bolivia. (ATMs are few and far between in these countries.)
After he returned we stopped at a local pub to have a thirst
quencher. When I say pub it is an open room with a few benches,
possibly a table or two. At 6:00 pm at night you shouldn´t have any
problems, right? Well... .we had to call our first "BIRKIE!"
"BIRKIE" is our security code word for "Don´t ask
questions. Leave what you are doing immediately." We walked in and
nicely greeted the 10 people that were in there. Everyone returned
the greeting and it felt safe. Within 10 minutes a younger guy (from
Cusco) walked in and got a cerveza and sat down with us. He appeared
to be a nice guy and we seemed to be having a descent conversation.
Soon the locals got up and came over. They were hassling this guy.
We didn´t know what they were saying but it was sounding and looking
aggressive. Tension was rising. I noticed the whole time that the
guy from Cusco kept his right hand in his pocket and never took it
out. The locals would try to get him to shake their hand but he
would shake with his left hand. After the woman in charge of the
joint got control of the situation and got everyone seated back in
their original places I noticed that the locals, along with the woman
in charge, were trying to get my attention. They were indicating
that the Cusco guy had a gun in his pocket and they were warning me
to watch him. Finally the woman in charge came over and wanted to
talk to me outside. I followed her and she indicated we were in
danger because we were from the United States and that he would try
to rob us. She also said this guy had a weapon and that we should
leave. I returned to the table. Gave the code word, "BIRKIE" and
the plan went smoothly. We gave the guy the rest of our beer and
calmly excused ourselves. We kept turning around to make sure the
guy was not following us. He wasn´t. Phew! After we made it back
to our hostel room and Ward and I talked about what had just
transpired it was all making sense. Initially the locals were trying
to get the guy to shake their hand because they wanted him to take
his hand out of his pocket but he wouldn´t. The whole time they were
watching out and concerned for us. Make friends with the locals and
you have more guardian angels.

Off to Bolivia. It was a magnificant bike ride as we twisted and
turned around Lake Titicaca looking at the mind boggling snow capped
Bolivian Andes in the foreground. We made it through the Bolivian
border without any problems, except...NO ATMs! Copacabana was the
town that was right outside of the border. It is a big tourist town
with no way to get money except to go to their bank which is only
open Tuesday to Friday between 2:30 and 5:00 pm. Well, that doesn´t
help us when we get there on Monday. We had to ration our money
until Tuesday afternoon and stay one extra day. I guess everything
happens for a reason because Tuesday night Ward and I stopped to get
a bite to eat. Next to us sat two girls, Stacey from Canada and
Mariam from Switzerland. Through conversation we discovered that
Stacey was thinking of climbing a 20,000ft mountain once she got to
La Paz. Right away I thought the wine was affecting her better
judgement but Ward was very intriqued. He really wanted to do it.
Hey, go for it but don´t drag me along. I had my climbing experience
in Torres de Paine when I almost got blown off the mountain. The
plan was to meet up in La Paz to arrange the climb.

La Paz, I call it "little India". Honest to god, I thought I dug a
hole and resurfaced in India! There were people everywhere! They
were walking right in the streets along with all the cars and buses.
It was utterly chaotic! We managed to make our way through the city,
always watching our six (that´s Military talk for covering your back
side). We found a hostel right off of one of the plazas. This was
going to be my home for the next week while Ward and Stacey did their
climb. This culture is interesting. The streets are lined with free
trade vendors. There are hundreds of people selling their goods on
the streets. Half of the people get to sell in the morning. Then
they have to pack up and the other half gets to sell on the street in
the afternoon. With all this hussle and bussle you have to be
careful. Ward and I are already wise to never bringing a bag with
you, using well hidden money belts, walking with purpose and always
being aware of what is going on around you. Well, Stacey wasn´t as
lucky. She was walking through a busy area wearing a backpack. She
suddenly felt like she was getting surrounded and an old woman
stepped in front of her to block her way. She immediately knew
something sketchy was going on and punched the woman that stepped in
front of her to get her out of the way. This all happened within 5
seconds. It ended up that they sliced open her backpack and stole
her camera. This was a devastating loss since it contained all of
her pictures from the last 6 weeks, however, they didn´t get her
wallet which was also in her backpack. It is common to use old
ladies and young kids in these thefts.

Ward´s write-up of his mountain experience:
Sunday, Stacey and I left for our 3 day climb to the summit of Huanya
Potosi. It is 6088 meters high (19,978 feet, this is the height of
18 Sears towers.) Pictures on the blog.
The climb was successful. I experienced some elevation difficulty,
but primarily my problems were restricted to breathing with only some
slight headaches. My climbing partner, Stacey, had servere headaches
and stomach problems and she was only able to make it to 5700 meters
before she was forced to return to lower elevations. Her turning back
with the guide was going to mean an end to my climb.

I was lucky to be able to join up with another guide and finish the
climb. It was very cold because of our 2 a.m. start from base camp
which was at 17,000ft and the terrain was very steep. At times we
were climbing at a 70 plus degree incline. The crampons and ice axe
were essential to make the steep icy route to the top. I was very
happy that I was tied to a guide. When we were 100 feet from the
summit we had a 10 inch wide piece of ice as our trail and 1000 feet
of drop off on each side. It was windy and I was very scared. My
labored breathing and the rubber like conditions of my legs added to
my fear.

Upon reaching the top we watched the sun rise and celebrated our
climb. The return trip down was by a different route. This route was
called the French Route. It was just as steep and scary. Some photos
are already posted on our blog to give you some idea. (More pictures
will coming in the photo gallery.) Riding our bikes around the world
is not enough of an adventure, there are mountains to climb.

Our time to get to Brazil to meet Ward´s friend, Wilson, by July 4th
has grown too short to bike the whole distance. We had to take a bus
to St. Matias. We were warned to be careful in this town because of
the drug trafficing along this route between Bolivia and Brazil. As
we were crossing the border we were searched by the Bolivian police
and then, down the road we were stopped three different times by the
Brazilian police. We never felt frightened. We were actually glad
to see how aggressive they were at getting this drug problem under

We are now in the jungle and the temps have changed drasticly from La
Paz. Instead of waking up to a temperature in our hostal room of 51
degrees and eating in restaurants at 39 degrees we are now in 100 to
109 degrees, humid conditions. The roads are all red dirt/gravel
with lots of rippio (we call this "washboard" in the US). The cars
and buses buzz by us. It doesn´t even phase them that we are victims
to the red dust that they kick up and spread all over our bikes, bags
and sweaty bodies. Its tough to stay clean when you are biking in
this condition for 5-8 hours in intense heat. The red dirt is also
quite challenging to bike through. Sometimes it is quite deep. I
fell 3 times in one day. I was covered in red. When we arrived at
the next town the locals thought I had a bad sunburn and were
concerned. Nope! Just dirty!

Tomorrow we arrive at Wilson´s. He says ice cold beer and barbecue
are awaiting us. Ahhhh. Wilson is going to take Ward fishing.
Hopefully they will catch a big one to put on the grill.

The correction has been made in the photo gallery regarding the Puno
and Lake Titicaca photos. They are new photos. Photos from the past
2 weeks will be coming.

Happy 4th of July everyone!
Jacky and Ward