Video Review – The Long Way Up Episode 6

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Episode 5 ended on a cliffhanger where it looked like one of the Rivians was about to ruin the front suspension. Looks like it was just an editing trick, as Episode 6 starts off without a hitch – at least for the trucks. I give that a huge thumbs down for fake drama. Thankfully, the episode quickly moves to some good stuff.

Episode 6 – Bolivia (47 minutes)
9,169 miles to LA!

Charley’s broken his legs a couple of times in the last year and they are half titanium at this point, so he’s tentative and he can’t stand over washboard because it puts too much pressure on his bones. Those of you that ride off-road will know that it just makes his riding more difficult.

Eventually, he goes down but it’s not clear what happened because the editor does the same thing from the last episode – he/she blends footage from different crashes together which just feels fraudulent to me. How is this…

…supposed to lead to this? Forget the difference in road surface, the bike falls on the left side in one shot and is then on the right side in another shot. I get that Charley is vulnerable due to his injuries and that this is a hell of a trip, but it’s impressive enough as it is without the exaggerations.

The bikes catch up to the trucks, and they stop for a moment to chat. Problem is, the electric handbrake has failed on one of the Rivians. Even though the driver knew that the parking brake did not work, he still gets out of the truck when it apparently isn’t in gear, and it starts rolling back down the hill they’ve stopped on.

The scene instantly devolves into utter chaos, as Charley falls over at a standstill, presumably while trying to dismount his bike.

The runaway Rivian hasn’t come away unscathed from its brief backwards journey.

It’s an impressive moment of incompetence which is accelerated once the truck is jacked up, the rock is cleared, and then something falls off once the jack is lowered.

The truck driver’s response is not encouraging. The truck does indeed drive away, but the viewer has no idea what fell off. It also seems that no one on the show knows what fell off either, which might make for an interesting surprise later in the show. (The next morning we find out that it’s an oil reservoir).

The driver speaks with a Rivian mechanic on the phone who tells him how to disable some sort of pump in the suspension, and I guess that’s supposed to save the day. On two wheels, the boys are in a good mood even though they’re a tiny bit behind schedule.

Luckily for them, their accomodations that evening in Uyuni, Bolivia are somewhat fancy, so there’s no problem with getting a good charge into the Harleys. Even better, the hotel has a resident llama named Bruno. Turns out the hotel is built of salt blocks, taking advantage of the local resources – the world’s largest salt flat is Salar de Uyuni (4,086 square miles). There’s a rule prohibiting licking the walls (but Ewan gets a quick one in anyway). If I ever go to Bolivia, you’ll know where I’m staying for a night: the Palacio del Sal. I don’t think Vy would even make it to our room, because she’d just spend the entire stay hanging out with Bruno.

The next morning, as you’d expect, Ewan and Charley check out the world’s biggest salt flats. Apparently it gets a couple of months of rain a year, at which point it turns into a shallow lake (and what Ewan calls “the world’s largest mirror”).

We get a quick mention of UNICEF, which is something that happened in the two other Long Way films as well. Ewan’s a supporter of them and they’ve raised money for the organization with previous trips. They visit a local school of the indigenous people, and Ewan is highly impressed with who well all of the kids can knit. I am, too! The knitted caps they wear are made out of fiber and they tell a story about where the child is from and his/her relationship with nature. One of the kids gives Ewan a Knitting 101 lesson:

We got a lengthy overnight stop in La Paz but I didn’t find any of the footage particularly interesting – I never had a moment where I felt like I wanted to visit the city. With that said, I loved finding out that Bolivia has a series of buses built on 60s Dodge platforms! I’m a sucker for this generation of Dodge trucks – I used to have a ’66 Dodge D200 stepside that I traded a laptop for when I was in college (and I’d love to have one again if you know someone who’s selling one!)

Here in Bolivia they’re basically micro buses that run designated routes through the city, almost like a bigger version of the colectivos Vy and I found in Havana, Cuba. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any explanation for why so many of them are Dodges, but here’s a page with a few more of them. I’ve found my next dirt bike hauler…

The episode ends with the trucks and bikes boarding the last ferry of the day across Lake Titicaca, and Ewan starts feeling the effects of altitude sickness so they get on the bikes ASAP after the ferry docks and make way to the hotel. Once there, they give one of the cameramen supplemental O2 and there’s a cliffhanger about the doctor entering Ewan’s room, calling out for him in a concerned way. Based on how the cliffhanger from the previous episode was resolved in this episode I assume it’s nothing, but I guess we’ll find out soon…

Either way, I have to admit it’s got me jonesing to go on long trips again. That’s not proving to be feasible, so I’ve been trying to catch up on some of the previous travel stories that I was never able to finish…such as when Vy and I went to the Iberian Peninsula. I just covered Days 10-12 this week, but you can start from the beginning here if you missed it. I promise I’ll be good about finishing up the travelogue for that trip soon!

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