Bolivia!

Trip Start Sep 28, 2011
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Thursday, May 24, 2012

I've dragged my stinking, recovering carcass onto a night bus to force myself out of Cusco and into Bolivia.  It's the usual nonsense on the bus, poor sleep and a long wait in a freezing cold bus station in Puno.  I've ordered myself a coffee and 'Americano' breakfast, which consisted of a luke warm drink and a small plate of over cooked eggs.  I'm huddled in next to one of those revolving halogen heaters I used to encourage homeless people to buy when living in icy high rise flats in Glasgow.  The guy next to me has a blanket.  I can see my breath on the air.  Two hours of this before frost bite gives way to respite.

A friendly German chap is going the same way, and we hang out for pretty much the rest of the journey.  He also speaks Spanish well, which would come in handy since I'm six days over my visa date and I've lost my immigration card.  I'm slightly concerned by how much they're going to rob me at the border, but for now I can't wait to get on a bus.  I never thought I'd hear myself say that.

Our destination is Copacabana, unfortunately (thankfully) not the famous beach, but a small, up and coming tourist town just over the border.  It's booming in recent years thanks to its proximity to La Isla del sol (I won't insult your intelligence) which was where the Incas believed the sun was born out of.  It sits in the centre of Lake Titicaca, which everyone says is better viewed from the Bolivian side, and is the highest monomictic lake in the world at around 3,800 metres.  It also claims the title of largest lake in South America.  I guess it must be worth a look.

I've managed to get across the border with very little problem.  In spite of the 25 US I was ordered to pay for outstaying my Peruvian welcome, it's the fastest, and dare I say, most pleasant crossing I've encountered.  It's all very smooth, efficient and relaxed, with the only real order being from a guitar playing border guard insisting I place the Bolivian flag sticker in a prominent place when I purchase one.  It's not long before we're all back on the bus and taking in the Bolivian countryside for the first time.

First impressions then.  It's a poorer fabric and landscape.  How are they existing?  Hundreds of run down dwellings are interspersed with acre upon acre of crops.  Small ones at that.  Hay stacks dot the sprawling fields, people work with their hands, a burnt out truck often residing lonely in dust ridden soil.  Buildings crumble.  Street dogs and shoeless children play and leap in the dirt, while elderly ladies carry what appears to be fridges on their backs for miles.  It's another world.  Again.  How we have it lucky.

The ride takes longer than expected, although it's interspersed with me nodding off in the morning bus window sun.  Eventually we're pulling into a town that seems to be on another planet compared to the poverty stricken fields previous.  This is for one reason and one reason only: tourist dollars, and they are here in force.  I'm going to part with mine just like the rest of them, and I opt for a day trip to the island, followed by a night bus again to La Paz.  Fast tourism, moving at pace, catching people up and spending less time in places that I've never really heard of.

I spend about an hour on the island, namely due to the captain of the outgoing boat fleecing me by saying the last one leaves at four.  It just happens to be his brothers craft, so in my idiocy I book a return ticket, eat Spaghetti, climb up a few Inca steps, take a picture then get back to dry land.  It was something of a disappointment, as the island did look beautiful, but thems the breaks sometimes.  The answer is less time in pissed up hell holes, and more time seeing lovely stuff.  So where am I going now?  Ahhh yes; La Paz.  A pissed up hell hole with a death road.  A winning combination.

I'm woken in the middle of the night to get out of the bus and into a ferry.  What on earth is going on here?!  The bus eases onto a low boat and is a rather odd sight as it slowly crosses what I think in the darkness is a river.  The passengers are forced to pay a ferry fee, before being ushered freezing cold onto a tiny winch that chugs over the water.  Odd isn't the word.  Bastards is.  I was dying of flu by the time we get back aboard, drive what seems like another eternity, and crash out in the first dive of a hostel I find in La Paz.  Still, I'm here, Bolivia's capital, and you'd better believe a whole host of new adventures await.  If only I could feel my legs.




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