Adventures through South America...

September 23, 2009

Let me in to Bolivia

Ok, so it´s been a while. I got lost in the frenzy that is La Paz. Here´s what I´ve been up to...

We left Cusco on the 11th and were headed for Copacabana, but not before we spent the day in Pisac, which is a little market town outside of Cusco.

My friend Niamh and I were brave enough to sample some fresh hot chocolate in a nice cafe...made with milk...which was likely unpasteurized. Fast forward to our 12 hour bus journey...

We spent our first bus ride from Cusco to Puno in absolute pain just trying to fall asleep to escape...then we spent the hours of 4:30 am to 7 am in the bus terminal in Puno taking turns paying 50 centimos (about 15 cents) using the facilities. We boarded our next bus to Copacabana on time and feeling a miniscule amount better.

It was on this bus that I experienced my first border crossing. Our driver was really good in explaining how it was to work. We stopped in the town just before the boarder to change money to Bolivianos, because to our surprise there were no banks or ATM´s in Copacabana. After changing the minimal Soles we had to Bolivianos and fretting over not being quite sure if we´d have enough money to make it out of Copacabana, we arrived at the border. We then proceeded to walk ourselves from the Peruvian office to get our goodbye stamp (you are granted a tourist card when you arrive that you must have stamped when you leave), over to the Bolivian side to get our new tourist card. For most English speaking countries, we are granted only 30 days (as opposed to the usual 90) in Bolivia, so I had to ask for special permission (in spanish) to stay 90 days. Trust me, not a pleasant experience after being sick on a bus for 12 hours and tired as hell...but alas, the grumpy border official let me have it. And that, is what crossing borders in South America is like. You actually just walk yourselves over!

Anyway, we got to Copacababa with no problems, and managed to sleep a lot our first day there. On Sunday we woke up early and took off on a trek to Yampaputa (the end of the peninsula) in order to get a boat to Isla del Sol. Our trek took us almost 6 hours and was such a beautiful and peaceful walk. Nevermind the hills at an altitude of over 3000 metres above sea level. I felt like my health was deteriorating, having to stop every 12 steps to catch my breath.

We walked through a number of small villages along Lake Titicaca, until we almost got to the end. We found a gentleman by the name of Horario Paye (as suggested in the Lonely Planet) and asked him to take us out on his reed boat. After our relaxing reed boat ride, we definitely did not want to finish the last hour of our trek so we paid Horario´s much younger (really he was probably 65) to ROW us to Isla del Sol. It was a 2 hour boat ride, during which we pulled our own weight and took to the oars!

We finished the night with a great meal of fresh trout from Lake Titicaca. The next day Niamh and I headed back to Copacabana due to a lack of funds! We had to haggle our way on to the boat just to get back to mainland, then managed to get half price tickets on a bus to La Paz.

I´m not having any luck posting photos today, but will try to get them up as soon as possible!

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