Welcome to Bolivia...

Trip Start Oct 05, 2012
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Trip End Apr 01, 2013


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Thursday, December 27, 2012

...it only took 20hours to get from Cusco to my next destination in Bolivia...8 hours more than promised by the travel agency I booked it at, and involving at least 2 modes of transport you wouldn't expect when you buy a bus ticket. Still, it proves the unreliability of South American transport, and inparticular that involving travel in Bolivia!!

The first leg from Cusco to Puno went reasonably well. Transzela buses have a double and a single row of seats, and I had one of the single seats so no need to worry about seat neighbours with wandering elbows or snoring!! The bus arrived into Puno around 5am and all of us heading into Bolivia were gathered up and herded to another desk in the terminal to get our tickets for the next bus. Queuing in South America is non existent at the best of times, but is particularly bad when it involves a group of tired travellers. It is also a lot more frustrating when you yourself are also tired!! I eventually managed to get my ticket, although found myself one of the last to do so - I really need to improve me elbow technique and lose my 'Britishness' when it comes to queuing!! I was also none too pleased to be told the bus would leave at 7.30am, giving me another 2 hours to wait in Puno bus terminal...

Numerous cups of coffee later (with evaporated milk - highly recommended!!) and having watched the Peruvian equivalent of BBC News 24 for almost 2 hours to keep myself awake, it was time to board another bus and finally head into Bolivia. Or atleast, it should have been...unfortunately we had another hour to wait before being taken to some back street out of the terminal and loaded onto a fairly rickety bus.

What I saw of the drive to the Bolivian border was beautiful, as the road hugs the side of Lake Titicaca. Unfortunately tiredness did catch up with me at this point and I couldn't keep my eyes open as much as I'd have liked to!! Arriving at the border, the driver gave us some very confusing instructions about what order to do things in, most of which I clearly didn't get as went off in search of the toilet with at least half the rest of the females on the bus (doesn't matter where you are in the world, there is always a queue for the ladies...). I then managed to get myself in the wrong queue on the Peruvian immigration side, which meant I had to rejoin the correct queue a long way behind the rest of the people on my bus... Wild panic aside, I did make it through both sides and was very glad to see the bus still there and everyone gathered outside it when I finally exited the Bolivian border control.

During my extended time passing through the border, I had missed the explanation of the next part of the journey. The driver literally threw my rucksack at me out the bus, and set off walking with all of us following him. Apparently there was a protest at the border, which meant no buses were allowed through and we had to walk the next part!! Fine - except for the 15kg rucksack on my back, the pain in my legs from the many steps around Machu Picchu, and the fact the route was across muddy farmland with pigs and sheep wandering around as well. Oh, and the failure to elaborate on the distance - which turned out to be apx.6km!!

Exercise over for the day, those of us heading to La Paz piled onto another bus - even more rickety than that which we crossed the border on and set off on what I hoped would be the final leg of the journey...

...until we arrived at an open stretch of water, which we clearly weren't going to get over without boarding some form of boat!! Luckily, I had about 5 Peruvian soles left, which was enough to buy the ticket for the boat, a bag of crisps (I hadn't eaten breakfast or lunch) and to use the bathroom. Us passengers got in smaller boats and crossed to the other sides, whereas the bus was loaded onto a very dodgy looking barge and brought over, looking the whole time like it was going to sink!! Thankfully it didn't, although it took a good hour to it get across the water and all of us back on it.

This boat excursion did turn out to be the last mode of transport required to get us to La Paz, and the rest of the journey passed uneventfully. It was quite a beautiful drive with snow capped mountains in the distance, although the pouring rain eventually meant the view disappeared. It was still pouring when we descended into La Paz and for some reason we were all dropped off on a random street instead of at a bus station. The first 2 taxis I managed to flag down refused to take me to my hostel, and then the one which did take me got me to the approximate location and then told me the numbers were too small for him to see and therefore I would have to walk the rest of the way and find it myself. Nice!! Luckily, it was actually opposite where he dropped me and so it wasn't too far to walk. I still got to the hostel looking like a drowned rat though, and not feeling much better after my 20 hour journey!!
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Comments

Pigwig on

So many bus journeys Fooft - so tiring. Hope you can rest after the Antartica trip xx

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