Her name wasn't Lola and she wasn't a showgirl

Trip Start Oct 29, 2003
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Thursday, September 16, 2004

In my entry from Arequipa a few weeks ago I seemed to be a bit upset about the food. In my rant I had forgotten to mention the name of one of the best Peruvian restaurants in the Washington DC area: El Pollo Rico. This is not just any chicken shack. I used to have to walk past it on my way home from work and at least twice a week I was drawn in by the delightful aroma of the chickens spinning round on the rotisserie. (Once when my parents were visiting they wanted to thank me for leaving home when I did and offered to take me out to any restaurant I wanted. I could have dined with senators and their wives at Morton's, or with senators and their mistresses at Hooters, but I chose EPR and I think even they would agree that I made a good choice.) In short, the Peruvians know how to cook chickens on a spit - and thank god for it. I spent my last weekend in Cusco eating chicken, watching football, watching the Princess Bride in an Irish bar and finally finding some glue to fix my glasses.

So it was time to say farewell to Peru. Together with Aussie Tim I took the night bus to Puno and Lake Titicaca. As every guidebook and postcard tells you, Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world at 3,820m (by 'navigable' I guess that it's the highest lake that actually has water). Here we took a boat and visited the floating islands of the Uros who for thousands of years have gathered the reeds in the lake to create their islands, boats and houses. Now they appear to be nothing more than floating souvenir stalls, but it was still interesting to see.

After two-and-a-half hours in the boat we stopped off at Taquile Island for lunch and to see some Incan ruins. All very nice, but nothing special. Back on the mainland it was off to find the nearest chicken shack, before crashing into bed for the early bus across the border to Bolivia and the small fishing town of Copacabana. Here we had the option of going to more islands on the Lake, but I couldn't be bothered - even if these were the islands that legend says were the birthplace of the Incan civilization. Instead, I went to the cathedral to see a tour bus being blessed by the priest. It's a unique tradition, but if you have a new car you go to the cathedral for the ceremony, and family and friends decorate the car and place gifts in front of it for good luck. Then the priest comes out with his Holy water, splashes it all over the engine, the seats, and in the boot before the family pour beer over it and sets off enough firecrackers to wake all the stray dogs. Then I paid 75p for a nice big beer and sat in the sun.

And so now I'm in La Paz, the highest capital city in the world. It's what you expect: pollution, noise, scam artists, and unfortunately a grotty hostel - but at least we found a good Chinese restaurant. We spent the day planning our next adventures, with Tim opting for a week in the jungle and me going on a bike ride down The World's Most Dangerous Road. So that should be fun.
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