Where’s My Battery: The Final Solution

Sucre Architecture Skyline
Sucre Bolivia Panorama.

On Monday, Batteryweb.com had promised Jonathan they’d get the battery to DHL that evening. On Tuesday October 24, 2006 they told Jon the battery didn’t make it. But no worries. It would go out that day. Both he and I made several attempts over email and telephone to secure a tracking number. I knew where the DHL office was in Sucre and I was prepared to either interfere or facilitate the best I could to see that my battery arrived by week end. On Thursday Jon finally got through to someone at Batteryweb.com. They skirted around the issue. There was some confrontation. Finally they told Jon that the battery would be going out that day via UPS — which, by the way, quoted the longest delivery time to Bolivia — nearly 3 weeks. There were no apologies. Not even a lame excuse. There were no answers at all. Further calls resulted in the cancellation of the order and the realization that this fly-by-night outfit didn’t even inventory batteries. At the time of the order the owner or manager of Batteryweb.com seemed interested in my journey. He even sent a nice email commending me on the video podcast and offering advice on how to perhaps resurrect my dead battery. But this attention to my situation and journey quickly faded. So Jon moved quickly and the next day, October 27th, my battery was officially on a truck and tracked by DHL.com thanks to the Jon and the great support team at Bob’s BMW in Maryland. For readers of this travelblog, do yourself a favor: don’t do business with Batteryweb.com and pass the advice onto your friends.

Meanwhile, I received an email from a guy in Potosi. Seems that somewhere along the route from Potosi to Sucre I dropped by Moleskin WorldRider notebook. It’s a small pocket sized diary where I log all my expenss and make notes that ultimately help me recall situations, facts and stories that make it to this blog. I asked Juan Carlos if there’d be anyway he could bring the book to Sucre where I certainly reward him and pay for his transport from Potosi two hours away. After exchanging a few emails we agreed he’d meet me at the hotel. I was reunited with my book. ow I just needed that battery.

Juan Carlos Reurns Worldrider Notebook
WorldRider notebook is returned from Potosi.

According to DHL the battery would arrive on Wednesday November 1st. This meant more days in Sucre. Not a bad thing. I was getting used to the great food at Joy Ride Cafe, El Chaqueno, La Taverna and Neopolitina. I had made friends with Dhery, the legendary friend and employee of Jorge Morato, Gert the owner of Joy Ride, Nicky the excellent moto mechanic and Ferdy, a fellow motorcyclist who owned an optical shop just off the main plaza. And while I still hadn’t met Jorge, his wife Anna showed up in Sucre. We spent some time over dinner and coincidentally enough she stayed at my hotel. So every day we exchanged pleasantries while she connected with Jorge on her cell phone. Jorge was heading out on a motorcycle adventure to Santa Cruz and then with a group to Northern Argentina. If timing worked there’d be a chance to meet him face to face in Santa Cruz. In the event this didn’t work out, I handed Anna a couple small gifts to pass on to the man that bailed my bike out as I flew back to the States for surgery.

Ecstatic and tracking number in hand I enthusiastically told everyone of my pending DHL shipment. But over several lunches, dinners and conversations nearly everyone agreed: Nothing coming from the United States whether by DHL, FedEx, or UPS arrives on time. Gert assured me that once the package arrives in La Paz or Santa Cruz that all tracking information stops. Anna had ordered cameras and electronics and sometimes these took 3 weeks. Nicky was more positive but agreed to add a few days to the date promised for customs. Ferdy even suggested a longer hold in customs given that a battery is a combustible and dangerous item — according to international shipping nomenclature. A visit to the DHL office confirmed everyones prognosis. I’d be lucky to have my battery within a week of the promised date.

I was astounded. So much for express global delivery. Then again, this is Bolivia. I was torn up inside with what to do. The cost of the battery is nominal. But the cost of shipping is nearly 4 times the battery. I had to change my strategy and keep looking for a battery — any battery that would fit. Nicky was put to the task. He found the exact size battery and specs, but as suspected, the posts for negative and positive were reversed. I had to make the decision to change the cabling. Within a couple hours Doc was running under its own battery.

Joyride Gert Sucre Bolivia
Dutch native Gert from a view window at his Joy Ride Cafe in Sucre, Bolivia.

I scurried the motorcycle into the lobby of the hotel to the amazement of Jeremiah and Jaime and Madeline the husband and wife owners of my hotel (Hotel Colonial Real in Sucre) who had become like mom and dad to me over the past 10 days. Everyone crowded around Doc. I had Nicky clean the bike so it was looking much better than the dusty mess I rode from Potosi a few days earlier. Now all that was left to do was get my bike ready for the long haul ahead. Jeremiah has been very patient waiting in Sucre with me. Over breakfasts and diners we combed maps of Bolivia and South America attempting to pen a route that would have us ride together as long as possible and getting us to our ultimate destination: The Salar de Uyuni.

But I had much to do. There would be no way I could leave until Tuesday November 1st. Jeremiah pushed for a Monday departure. I resisted. The list was daunting:

1) Refit Jesse bags
2) Refit tank panniers
3) inventory spare parts and repack in Adventure Pipe Stash Tube
4) Refit AirHawk seat – visit seamstress to adhere buckles to new AirHawk Cover
5) Realign PIAA lights; apply new cover
6) Visit Aduana (customs) to apply for extension of my temporary import permit
7) Mail spare chain, sprockets and tube to Cristian in Chile – these things just weigh to much. I’ll change in Santiago.
8) Buy sunglasses. Of all things, I forgot sunglasses. The Salar is a white desolate massive sun reflector; I’ll need them.
9) Inspect and tighten all bolts
10) Repair broken signal lights with epoxy – if possible
11) Adjust clutch

And the list goes on. So it looks like Tuesday is departure day.

Packing My Panniers1-2 Packing My Panniers3-1 Packing My Panniers4-1 Stach Tube 2B Filled-1
Organizing my gear and packing into individual panniers and the Adventure Pipe stash tube.