Our First Sighting of Lake Titicaca!

Trip Start Jul 14, 2010
Trip End May 18, 2011

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Where I stayed
Hostal Qīoņi Wasi

Flag of Peru  ,
Sunday, January 30, 2011

After another 10 hour bus ride out of Cotahuasi, we arrived in Arequipa at 3 in the morning.  Miraculously, a bus was leaving at 3:15 AM to Puno, which was our next destination.  Sweet!  We got on the bus with no problems, except that the locals on the bus were actually getting impatient, and were pounding on the windows of the bus and yelling at the driver to get the show on the road.  This was my first experience with locals actually showing any signs of losing patience, and it was quite a shock, especially since the bus left the terminal a whole 10 minutes late.

Four hours of bad sleep later, we were in Juliaca, where most of the passengers got off, leaving about 10 of us that went all the way to Puno.  I had the entire row of back seats to myself, but couldnīt sleep because I knew weīd be able to see Lake Titicaca any second.  Right before entering Puno, we came down a hill and were finally able to the clear blue sparkling waters of the lake.  The bus terminal is right on the lake, so we had another excellent view when we got off the bus.

While taking a taxi to our hostel, we had to take a slight detour, as some streets had been blocked off for the festival that was going on, which included some dance competitions.  We dropped our things off at the hostel, then went to the streets to see what was going on.  We caught the tail end of a parade of dancing men and women, then just wandered around for a little while.  The great thing about our hostel was that it had a kitchen, so we were able to cook a good, healthy, rice-free dinner for 3 soles total.

The following day was completely dedicated to getting Bolivian visas.  We were told we could get the visa at the border as well, but didnīt want to have to deal with having all of our documents in hand at the border, so we opted to get it done before arriving to Bolivia.  The first step was for me to get passport photos.  This took all of 20 minutes, and then we were off to the Bolivian consulate to hand them our yellow fever certificates, itineraries, and $135 each and receive our visas.  It was not that easy.  As soon as we were seen, the guy behind the desk told us we needed X number of copies of this, X number of copies of that, times four, so we needed to come back with all of the information in hand.  As we left, another English speaker sitting in the waiting room wished us luck.  We thanked him, not realizing at that point that it would still be another few hours before weīd have our visas in hand.  We found a ĻlocutorioĻ nearby and made 4 copies of everything the guy had asked for, because we couldnīt remember how many copies of each we needed.  We also had to print out a reservation we had thankfully made for a jungle tour, to show that we had a place to stay in Bolivia.  I donīt know what we wouldīve done if we had decided upon couchsurfing in La Paz and hadnīt gone on the jungle tour.

Anyway, back to the consulate again, and after another wait, we sheepishly handed the guy our four copies of everything, which amounted to a sizable stack of papers each.  We got most of it back.  We thought we were done, but we werenīt.  We couldnīt pay the $135 per person directly to the guy at the consulate.  We had to go to a specific credit bank and deposit it into the consulateīs account.  He handed us a note to give to the bank, telling us to come back with two vouchers, then sent us on our weary way again.  After a long wait at the bank, we were able to get rid of the wads of cash we had (itīs been a long time since Iīve seen a $100 bill), then took our two vouchers back to the consulate.  And we thought we were done, haha.  Ohhhhh nooooo!  He took the vouchers, thanked us, then told us to come back at 1 PM to get our passports with visas attached.

It was 11:30, so we finally sat down and ate some breakfast.  We were craving waffles, but ate some bread and coffee instead.  After breakfast, we had some time left, so we bought bus tickets to La Paz for the following day, then headed back to the consulate.  Again.  The waiting room was starting to get a little more full, but we were still seen soon enough, got our passports with the visa sticker in place and thought we were done.  Nope!  He told us to bring him back one copy of the completed visa in our passports, and then we would finally be on our merry way.  We found a closer place to get copies, then came back to the consulate to find a huge tour group all waiting to start the whole process of obtaining visas.  There was no fricken way we were waiting around while each individual in this bumbling group (as tour groups tend to be) was helped by our dude.  Logan stuck his head in the office, and got a rude comment by a lady outside, saying they had formed a line and were all waiting.  They must not have realized that this was Peru.  Nobody follows lines, especially in a place like the Bolivian consulate.  We hadnīt finished the process as fast as we had without continually sticking our head in the office to guarantee weīd be next in line.  So, Logan stuck his head in the office again, handed our guy the copies, then got the hell out of there.  We were free, and we had our very first visas in hand.  A very momentous occasion.
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