It's all going downhill! Bolivia to Peru

Trip Start Sep 16, 2012
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Trip End Mar 03, 2013


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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

From Uyuni salt flats we took yet another bus to the capital of Bolivia, Sucre with a brief stop in the mining town of Potosi to change buses. We had booked into a great little hostel which felt more like a hotel which was a treat! We spent 3 days wandering around the city. It's a beautiful colonial city full of grand buildings and white washed houses. We made the most of our afternoon siestas (in the hostel garden hammocks) between one and three when most Bolivians shut up shop and have a big lunch with the family. They traditionally eat their main meal at lunchtime in Bolivia but the lady that worked in our hostel seemed to work through until 3pm, she was a lovely lady and she did make me laugh when she cut the grass with hand shears wearing a pair of shiney black stilletos! The heals just kept on sinking in the grass! We also had some amazing and ridiculously cheap meals out. One night I had local trout baked in white wine and blue cheese sauce served with crisp veggies...not a traditional Bolivia dish but very yummy! We certainly ate well in Sucre!

On to another bus we hopped for an overnight stint to La Paz, the biggest city in Bolivia. The bus was a bit of a banger but we made it safely there and managed to get some sleep on the way there. In La Paz we enjoyed wandering around the streets, taking in the sights and doing a spot of souvenir shopping! I almost lost Alasdair to a Bolivian lady in the post office who took a shine to him when we were posting our shopping back to the UK.
One afternoon there was a parade going on so we watched the marching bands and
ladies dressed in all their finest and their traditional tall hats! On Sunday we made our way to the big weekly market up in El Alto, I think it is probably the biggest outdoor market I've ever been to, it stretched for miles with stalls selling literally everything and anything, car parts, clothes, food, household items....the list could go on. We didn't particularly need anything so we just soaked up the atmosphere and had an insight in to local life.

One thing that most people travelling through La Paz do is a trip down the "Worlds Most Dangerous Road" AKA "The Death Road" in the Cordillera Real region. So many people we'd met along our south american travels raved about how much fun it was that we thought that we shouldn't miss the opportunity to cycle downhill for 64km, starting at snow capped mountains and ending in the jungle! We were very lucky with the weather on the day of our ride, a beautiful sunny day with a clear view of the mountains. Not bad seeing as it was the rainy season! After safety briefings, practising on our top quality downhill bikes and gearing up we set off down the first stretch of the paved road before heading off down the main gravel/dirt road once we were used to the bikes. It was awesome. The road is basically only used by downhill bikers since a new safer road for vehicles was built. Parts of the dirt road are only 3 meters wide with a sheer 400m drop at the side with no barriers so there's no wonder there used to be so many accidents with it being the only road and cars trying to pass each other on narrow stretches. I was a little nervous at times on the narrow bits but I just went at my own pace! Most of the time I had a big grin on my face like a big kid! After a beer, shower and meal at a local animal rescue centre we set off our way back up the dirt road in our minibus. That was the scariest bit of the whole day. I actually couldn't sit by the window, it made my tummy flip! The driver was spectacular and knew the road very well although he looked to be enjoying the drive a little too much for my liking! Needless to say we all made it back to la paz safely and unharmed (well, one girl need her knee stitched up by the vet at the animal sanctuary after a little fall from her bike!)

Copacabana, on the shores of Lake Titicaca (The worlds largest high altitude lakes) was our next stop which was a great place to relax. We had a place on the hillside overlooking the lake which was wonderful. We hadn't realised but we had arrived for one of the festivals. We are not exactly sure what they were celebrating but it was a religious festival. There was a big parade through the streets and main square of Copacabana with marching bands, dancing cholitas and fancy costumes! All the locals lined the streets to watch as well as us, it was a great atmosphere. They seem to love fire crackers and fireworks, they were going off all day and all night for about 2 days! We took a boat across to the Isla De Sol (island of the sun) and walked from the north to the south of the island (about 3 hours), again we were lucky with the weather had had great sunshine. We saw ancient ruins and little villages, farmers and shepherds on our way. The lake views looked like something out of the Mediterranean at times!

Another day another 10 hour coach journey! This time crossing the boarder in to Peru. We travelled around the edge of Lake Titicaca where we crossed in to Peru and briefly stopping at Puno. On the way, we passed lots of reed fields which Titicaca is famous for - reed boats and floating islands but nowadays used more for handmade arts and crafts or practical household items. A few of hours from our destination, Cusco a local lady bordered the coach and hauled a what looked like a very heavy swag off her back on to the ledge by my feet. Soon after I looked up and noticed the lady unwrapping a massive meat cleaver as she started to attack what would appear to be a whole barbecued sheep! Bearing in mind we were on a moving coach, she was wobbling all over the place as she was wielding her very sharp meat cleaver! Im glad I didn't see her chop her finger as the bus jolted and she missed the sheep! She didn't seem too fussed about it though. She was just trying to make a few soles, selling the BBQ'd meat to the passengers on board. Not long after that we also got a puncture but in true South American style the tyre was off, repaired and we were on our way again 15 minutes later and safely arrived in Cusco not long after sunset.
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