Now, that was strange.....

La Paz Travel Blog

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Haucachina. Lagoon in the desert. First stop with friends.

I finally made it out of Peru. Thought that day would never arrive. Was there for over two months.

The first week my friends were here was great. With the exception of one friend who insisted on eating cheviche the first night and guinea pig the second. That set the pace for the rest of his trip. He was in agony the whole time. Poor kid. Besides that he was a trooper. We first went to Huacachina, the lagoon, about four hours south of Lima. That was a total chill place. Loved it. Full of Israeli travelers, which was kind of funny. From there we stopped over in Nazca. Second time for me, we had enough time to get our tickets, take a bus out to see the Lines and started walking back. We were running out of time, and we stopped waiting for a bus and starting hitchhiking back.

Hitchhiking back to Nazca. Peru
A guy stopped and gave us a ride back to town. From there back to Cuzco. We were one night there and one night in my favorite city in Peru, Ollyantantambo. From there we had to take two collectivos to finally arrive at the hydroelectric point outside St. Theresa, were we walked the rail tracks heading towards Agua Calientes. It was nightfall and we still didn´t arrive to town yet. Needless to say there were some nervous people in the group. Only one person remembered to bring a flashlight. We found this obscure place in the woods that was some kind of training grounds, where some guys were playing soccer in a lighted field. The guys continued walking ahead on the tracks to see if there was any sign of civilization and me and my girlfriend decided to walk down to this came and find someone to ask.
Outside walls of Ollaytantumbo, launch pad for Machu Picchu journey. Peru.
We were told that we were on the right track... sorry for the pun. We continued further and there was someone else walking the tracks. She had a flashlight and we followed her into town. We found a hostal and went in search of dinner. I have never experienced such pressure trying to look for food. There were thousands of restaurants all with people on the streets screaming out at you offering free drinks, appetizers, whatever to get you to come to their restaurant. I was almost at the point that I didn´t want to eat at all, but just go and sleep. We were promised heaven and earth to stop at this pizza joint. With the promise of free liquor and apps, we caved in and the waving of menus and screams from competition died off as we ascended up to the freezing terrace.
Overlooking ruins in Ollaytay! Great day!
We climbed up to Machu Picchu the following morning.  The climb was a exhausting. It was beautiful, but slightly overrated. I thought the surrounding mountains were equally if not more astounding than the ruins. It was like being up there with god. The mountains were the most magnificent thing Ive seen. One in particular was like speaking to me. I really felt I was communicating with Pachamama. The whole time I was up there I couldn´t stop looking at this mountain. We tried to relax in the thermals that were not very thermal that night.

We ended up taking the train back to Ollyantantambo. Three of us tried to do San Pedro on the Inca Terraces. That didn´t work out too well. I couldn´t take too much. It was making me sick. The other two tripped a bit, but it was overall not a great experience.

This is what a 13 hour bus ride and eating guinea pig will do to you. Cuzco, Peru
We stopped in Cuzco one last night and stayed in probably the world´s coldest hostal room. The boys left and I continued traveling with my girlfriend.

We did the cheezy Lake Titicaca thing again.. It was kind of tiring going to the same places Ive been before. I did return with her to Arequipa, where we stayed two nights and then went to an outlying town of Chivay. I couldn´t believe how cold it was. That night we to the thermals, which weren´t that much more amazing than Aguas Calientes. Interesting enough, the next morning as we were heading out to walk along the southern rim of the Colca Cayon, we passed the fountain in the center of the plaza that was completely frozen. That explains why we were dying the whole night of cold..... Walking the canyon rim was amazing, we couldn´t walk although back to town as we were running out of time.

Fair Trade tour in a pueblo outside Ollaytantumbo, Peru.
Good thing we returned to Arequipa when we did.

Two days ago she returned home. We kinda made a mistake in reading her return flight. We booked her ticket for the a.m. flight from Arequipa to Lima thinking that her international flight was at 3 p.m. It turned out that her flight was actually at 3 a.m. She just happened to check her itenery ten minutes before 8 p.m. The agent office closed at 8. We ran back to the office, they called and could do nothing to change over the phone. The last flight was at 9,50. We ran back to the hostal, she shoved everything in her pack and we grabbed a taxi to the airport. We were warned from numerous people not to take taxis in the street to the airport due to robberies and hostage situations. We didn´t listen and didn´t have time to wait.

Walking the tracks to Aguas Calientes on our way to Machu Picchu. Peru.
I later found out that the warning was of real danger. But, all was ok. We arrived at the airport only to find the lady from the agent office along with her son and husband there to help us get my friend on the flight.

We thought we would have one last night out. She made the flight that night.

The next day, I had prepared myself that I was going to take a bus that night to Arica, Chile hoping that I would perhaps find an earlier bus. I was ready to leave Peru. When I arrived at the terminal I found that the buses leaving for Chile were only at night, but there was a bus leaving in 1 1/2 hours to the border of Bolivia. I was really quite nervous about that border crossing. I read about it and from what I read, it wasn´t good. The only other option would be to go back to Puno again for a third time.

Pachamama. Never felt such power from mother earth. Peru.
I couldn´t do that and I wanted out of Peru pretty damn badly. I sat there with my travel book in my lap, thinking oh god I need a sign, what should I do?

In the seats in front of me, a guy stood up and turned around. I couldn´t believe it. It was two guys from the hare krishna temple in Lima. I went over and chatted with them. I told them that I couldn´t make up my mind. They both said go to Bolivia. That was my sign. I went back to the ticket counter and booked to Desguardero. Shortly after they hopped their bus and I waited for mine to leave. I felt ok about my decision, but I knew what I was getting myself into.

The bus finally arrived in Desguardero around 10,30. It was freezing. It was the dirtiest, shadiest place Ive seen. I was totally nervous.

Crystal at Machu Picchu. Peru
I wandered to a couple of hostals near the buse terminal - knowing that the hostals near terminals are of the dodgiest kinds. Anyways, I found one for about $3. It was nasty. The room smelled of piss and I wouldn´t let my dog walk in the bathroom. I had to feel around under the sheets and smell the sheets to know if they were clean. With that cold, I had no choice but to go under the covers. I slept and woke at daybreak.

I went out looking for the bus to La Paz, but realized that immigration was right there and so was the bridge to Bolivia. I cued up in line. The Peruvian side of being stamped out with the police and exiting through immigration was long, but easy.

Only way down at Gonzo´s bar in Ollaytantay! Peru.
The Bolivian side was a different story. When I was stamped out, I started to cross the bridge and was stopped by a police who asked me to go into this building where he wanted to search my bags for drugs. I asked him if I looked like a drug dealer and tried to joke with him. But, he was making a formality of checking. He didn´t delve too deeply, but it was making me nervous. That done, I crossed to Bolivia. After  a lot of confusion, I finally found someone who could help process my visa as I was one of the few who arrived at the border without a visa already arranged. The guy took off with my passport, which I really didn´t like. After a while another guy came back with it and asked me to go into another room. I filled some paper work out. I didn´t have some of the docs they wanted.
Walking back to Chivay along Colca Canyon, Arequipa, Peru.
With a lot of off-truths, but believable stories and an extra $20 bribe in addition to the $100 visa fee, he processed my visa while trying to hit on me, asking me if I was single and if I wanted a Bolivian boyfriend. Why do I always get the fat ugly police to `help` me?

I was really frazzled by that point, but held together quite well. After additional mishaps trying to get a bus to La Paz I finally got a mini-bus there. About one hour into the ride, there was a police checkpoint. Everyone was told to get off the bus and walk through this market area to where there was a hoard of military guys on the other side. We filed up and the military was checking our documents. My bag was still on the bus and I was really getting nervous if this is how all of Bolivia was going to be like.

Baby llama and escort. Chivay, Peru.
We passed through the military checkpoint and reboarded the bus. Another hour we were stopped at another checkpoint and the immigration police got on the bus and checked everyone´s docs. I thought Peru was bad. They had tons of police and military everywhere, but never were the buses boarded. I finally landed in La Paz and caught a taxi to one of the plazas in Prado where I was able to find a hostal.

Bolivia is freaking cold. I saw some amazing scenery on the way in. I don´t know how long Ill stay. I understand that the places that I wanted to visit are blockaded. I was told before there was a lot of unrest in Bolivia now. I need to do asking around before I leave the capital  I guess. So far, its a lot like Peru in regards to the way people are dressed and the city itself. I need to give it more time. I think Ill be in Bolivia for only a week or so before continuing on to Argentina.

I knew the border crossing was going to be the most trying part. The rest will go well. I think.

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Haucachina. Lagoon in the desert. …
Haucachina. Lagoon in the desert.…
Hitchhiking back to Nazca. Peru
Hitchhiking back to Nazca. Peru
Outside walls of Ollaytantumbo, la…
Outside walls of Ollaytantumbo, l…
Overlooking ruins in Ollaytay! Gre…
Overlooking ruins in Ollaytay! Gr…
This is what a 13 hour bus ride an…
This is what a 13 hour bus ride a…
Fair Trade tour in a pueblo outsid…
Fair Trade tour in a pueblo outsi…
Walking the tracks to Aguas Calien…
Walking the tracks to Aguas Calie…
Pachamama. Never felt such power f…
Pachamama. Never felt such power …
Crystal at Machu Picchu. Peru
Crystal at Machu Picchu. Peru
Only way down at Gonzo´s bar in O…
Only way down at Gonzo´s bar in …
Walking back to Chivay along Colca…
Walking back to Chivay along Colc…
Baby llama and escort. Chivay, Per…
Baby llama and escort. Chivay, Pe…
Where we froze all night. Chivay, …
Where we froze all night. Chivay,…
View on way to La Paz, Bolivia.
View on way to La Paz, Bolivia.
Border crossing between Peru and B…
Border crossing between Peru and …
La Paz
photo by: wilfredoc2009