The road to Vallegrande was actually much better. Not as much dust and recent rainfall had settled what little dust we might have contended with. We climbed mountains and descended into pretty valleys with tiny adobe outbacks passing men on horses, cattle crossing the road and mountain goats climbing the hills roadside. Rolling into Vallegrande I was greeted by a family and their mules carrying firewood.
We quickly settled into a small apartment complex where we safely could park our bikes. At about $3.75 each we both agreed we could afford our own room and while we’d contend with a community bathroom and shower we were happy that we could park our bikes in front of our rooms. It continued to rain and drizzle. Vallegrande is a small pueblo with two principle squares. The first is set around a church with a tall clock tower whose bells ring every half hour — all night long. The second set around the outdoor market, ramshackle stores and a couple restaurants. Some of the streets are paved others dirt or loose brick and cobblestones. There’s an internet cafe on nearly every street yet suprisingly only a few restraunts. Tourism hasn’t offically settled in here.
After a fine dinner of fried chicken, french fries and rice we settled back to our rooms. Jeremiah had some negotations to settle with the owner of this establishment as neither our rooms nor the bathrooms were fitted with toilet paper. They were more than willing to sell us some. But we were big spenders here and while other guests will cram four or more people into the small, musty and mildewy rooms with a sole dirty flourescent light fixture, ancient linens and mattresses sure to wreak havoc on our backs, we took two rooms! This should afford the owners the liberty to sport us some toilet paper — gratis. They handed us each a roll and strongly urged we don’t leave it in the bathroom while reminding us to not flush it down the toilet but use the trash can instead.
It wasn’t long after that Jeremiah came to me with sullen and sunken eyes and a pale look on his face. Would I be willing to let him have my toilet paper ration for the evening?
“This wasn’t the night to have a community bathroom,” his voice quivered. Seems the asado he downed in Iquile an hour or so before my muddy crash was taking toll on his system. I had ordered the same, but when the plate landed in front of me, I pushed the scary meat aside and ate the rice. At least something was going right for me. For Jeremiah it’s another story. Looks like we’re spending another night in Vallegrande. This pushes our schedule — which really isn’t a schedule — off now by two days.
If he feels better we’ll have an early start for Santa Cruz tomorrow.