So where does the name "Latitude Fifty Four" come from?
The final destination for this motorcycle adventure was the city of Ushuaia located in Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina.
The latitude of this city is 54° 47' South.

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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Day 126 to Day 128

March 9th, 2006: Puno, Peru to La Paz, Bolivia
March 10th, 2006: La Paz, Bolivia
March 11th, 2006: La Paz, Bolivia

On a last minute whim we decided that we would visit Bolivia before looping back west towards Chile. Our plan was to drive south along Lake Titicaca and then cross over the lower part of the lake towards Copacabana, Bolivia. The first part of the drive was absolutely gorgeous. On Lake Titicaca there are still indigenous people that live on floating reed houses. Even in the slightly more modern areas, traces of this can still be seen by the presence of reed boats alongside more modern fishing boats. While driving along the lake we stopped at a very small roadside comedor (diner/eatery) where we purchased some fresh-out-of-the-ocean fried trout and potato soup. The diner was very primitive, consisting of a few stools lined up beside a tile tabletop, with no real kitchen to speak of. There was merely a few pots boiling away on small propane stoves right beside the eating area, one tiny sink to clean up with, and a roll of toilet paper on the table to use as a serviette. Once we chowed down we were feeling ready to finish up the rest of the trip towards Copacabana. We stumbled upon a market where local goods were traded and sold, such as livestock, vegetables and bread. The lady pictured here went rummaging through a few bags of pigs (yes, bags) until this little piglet caught her eye. While my dad was inside taking that picture I watched a lady purchase two sheep then proceed to load them up into the back of a hatchback taxi with the rest of her family in tow. The strangest site, by far though, happened just as we were leaving the market. We were just exiting the lot when a minivan came up beside us loaded full with llamas. There were llama faces peering out the rear window, heads peeking out all the open windows, and to boot there were llamas sitting on the cargo rack ontop of the van held down by a net! What a site that was!! After a good laugh we drove on towards Copacabana, or so we thought. We were stopped at a police checkpoint where they informed us that Copacabana was about 40 minutes back! We thanked them for correcting us and drove a little while back to our proper (and totally unmarked) cutoff point. While at the Peru-Bolivia border we ran into a couple that had flown their BMW bike over from England. They were touring South America and had already been to many of the places that we planned to visit. Then, as luck would have it, a few minutes after they left we ran into 3 Brazillians that were travelling on Honda 250s. We decided to drive with them towards Copacabana, but once we arrived in the city they kept going. We weren't sure what was going on so we kept going as well. What a mess that led us into! Although the scenery was just gorgeous, the road was horrible! It was an unpaved, rocky, totally torn up road that wove up and down through the mountains. It was offroading at it's finest, really...well, at least until my bike died. My bike overheated causing steaming coolant to come spewing out of my bike in all directions so we gave it some time to cool off, refilled the coolant reserve with some water from the lake and headed off again. We made it about 500 feet before my bike overheated again. We suddenly realized that the radiator fan wasn't kicking in. A local kid watched us inquisitively as we began dismatling the bike to figure out where the problem was. We checked the fan's fuse first, but it looked fine. We looked over a few other things briefly, but unfortunately we didn't have much testing equipment at our disposal in such a remote location. We realized we'd just have to let the bike cool off for a long time, keep a few bottles of lake water handy, and head back towards town when it cooled off a little later in the afternoon. After waiting a sufficient amount of time we began our journey back towards
Copacabana, but upon arrival figured it would be best to head to the capital city of La Paz instead while the temperature was still cool, and where we would have a much better chance of getting the bike looked at. The journey to La Paz was a pretty interesting one. It consisted of a 45 minute drive to a small town where you then have to cross a lake by ferry. After driving our bikes onto the ferry the men driving it started frantically bailing water out of the bottom before starting up the engine. Then, while it was crossing the lake you could feel it buckling and twisting in all directions, all the while hearing the creaking of the wood. The floor of the ferry was nothing more than a few large planks laid down side by side, not even nailed down or secured in any way. I was petrified on my bike, but I can imagine it would be even scarier on a tourbus or truck which also had to cross over on the same boats and seemed to lean at much more precarious angles than the bikes did! Once you arrive on the other side there's another 90 minute drive before you finally arrive in La Paz. By the time we arrived it was already dark and we had to fight our way through a local street market before finding a hotel. The next morning we drove to a local motorcycle shop where we got my bike repaired. Upon closer inspection it actually was the fuse that was broken. We didn't see it the day before because the fuse didn't actually burn out, as is generally the case, but instead had a tiny hairline crack through the filament, probably caused from the vibration from that awful road. We did a few more routine maintenance items and my bike was as good as new. The following day my dad brought his bike into the same shop and did some routine maintenance on his as well.

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