Puno to La Paz, Passing out of Peru and buggering about in Bolivia !

La Paz Travel Blog

 › entry 13 of 31 › view all entries
Hola Chicos y Chicas ! I know what your thinking.. NICE ALLITERATION ! he should work for the sun newspaper.. and.. yes you are right, but until I return to the green and pleasant lands, more crap about the rubbish we have been getting up to on the far and distant continent where there be dragons.. er..well no, not Dragons as such, but I did see a rather grumpy looking dog the other day if that counts ?
So what happened next eh.. well after getting back from the awesome, (if awfully organised) MP trek ( BRILLIANT !!!!) we set off south to have a few restful days on the shores of lake Titicaca at the Peruvian town of Puno. The bus down was great ( even if we were a bit to knackered to appreciate it) I had caught a cold from the days trekking in the rain and was happily snotting and spluttering all the way down, which ordinaraly would have put me in a Grump, but, as this was a bit of a gringo bus ( about 3 organised tour groups of noisy americans and about 4 independant travellers filled the whole bus) one of the tour guides had brought some DVD´s to entertain the yanks including da da daaaaa the new James Bond film on a pirate copy.. IN ENGLISH !! YAY !! third time i´ve seen it and it keeps getting better !! BEST BUS TRIP EVER !!!!
We even got a stop off at a roadside market with a glorious backdrop of snow capped mountains where H bought a silly hat and we took serrupicios photos of local kids with their overly dressed up llamas !
However, all good things come to an end and eventually we met the shore of Lake Titicaca and alighted at the Puno Bus terminal. By this time the cold had taken full effect and I felt dog rough ! We got accosted by the usual touts offering accomodation and went with one who chucked us into a taxi to a hostel the guide had recommended.. well.. I can only think the reviewer got a big hand out ( or hand job perhaps) for recommending this place as it was a total dog hole in the arse end of no where !Naturally we declined the polite offer to stay, but were then a bit stuck as the town seemed to have sod all in the way of semi decent places to stay ! We tried a few more homely options (pretty much a matress on the living room floor of someones house), and some pricer options ( read.. prison like cell with no natural light, slop bucket and TV with one channel for three times what we paid in Cusco.. no ta !) and eventually found a semi decent place ( well it was clean) where I could pass out for a bit and let the germs do their worst to my nasal passages !
As you may guess, not a lot more happeded this day, we managed to get some lunch, re-introduced ourselves to the restorative properties of Snickers bars and hid in the room watching the warner channel ( 4 hrs straight of 2 and a half men followed bu the Terminator TV show... Baaaaaad !) trying to feel better !
Fortunately, the next day I did feel better ( if massively dehydrated, its really high here so thats normal, but as I had lost 80% of my body fluids through my nose over the last 12 hours it was a bit more acute !), but we did find the town´s saving grace ( in case I had not mentioned it is a dog hole) , the RICO PAN bakery, the best perveyor of baked goods in all Peru, with the most amazing cakes and especially chicken empenadas ( like a chicken balti pie really) where we pigged out before heading down to the docks (  hello sailor !!) to catch a boat to Peru's famous Floating Islands ! This was great , it was about an hour our into the lake where the reed beds make a range of 5 or 6 "islands" where some relativly indigenous people lived in thatch houses and entertain boat loads of tourists with stories of how the islands are made and what loacally made crap you can buy !
We headed off to the furthest island (and the least commercial I think) where a nice man told us some stuff in spanish we didnt understand then took us for a ride on his reed boat while his daughter sung "trinkle trinkle rittle star" to earn herself a couple of sols ! The "main island" has shops , bars, restaurants and even a hostel, all made out of reeds. It was a bit odd but nice to see, my favourite part of the day however was seeing the crap the argentian tourists had purchased from the islanders ( mini reed boats, clothes etc) my favourite being a badly stuffed duck looking more than a bit pissed off at becoming the new centerpiece for a sextegenarian's table !
Back in town we did our chores ( yep we still have chores to do, like washing clothes .. very infrequently of course...backing up photos, sending postcards and parcels etc) grabbed a beer and pizza at the cheapest restaurant in town and hit the hay early as we were off to Bolivia on the morrow and had nearly run out of Peruvian sols !!
7.30 am saw us on another gringo bus heading for the Bolivain boarder with yet another grossly inappropriate movie for the time of day ( American Historx X, good film,  but brutal murder and Prison shower gang rape before 9am is a bit much!). We crossed the boarder without incident ( its been really easy at all boarders so far.. they just seem interested where you come from) and arrived in our first Bolivian town Copacobana ( not the Barry Manilow one, but another one on the Bolivia shore of Lake Titicaca).
Its a bit of an odd town, there is one main street that leads to the lakeshore lined with hostels, restaurants and bars etc, most of which close for lunch ( he he great strategy !). At the lakeshore you can get giant duck pedaloes and sit on the beach.. well.. beachy landfill.. and (if you can ovecome the gag reflex at the smell) enjoy the cristal blue waters of the lake.
We opted for the expencive option here and headed up the hill to the best hostal we have stayed at all trip, Ok we got the cheapest room, ( 16 bucks a night) but it has a fantasic view of the lake, kitchen, TV room, Hot tub etc, some of the suites were real places you could honeymoon and were fantastic ( but we were on a budget) so we just used their patios and hammocks to sun ourselves overlooking the lake :-)
There is not an awful lot to do here, even the guide recommends it as a place to relax after Hectic La Paz (coming next!), so thats what we did, Very little. Reading, sunbathing ( as it was quite hot and sunny in the daytime .. bitterly cold at night, but our room had a heater.. yay !)
There is a church where daily the locals bring their cars, decorated in floral wreaths to be blessed by the local priest with a generous libation of beer and firecrackers ! and a local food market that is fun trying to identify which animal the piles of gloop came from. My personal favourite place being potato street, the only place in town you can buy potatoes!
So thats what we did for the first couple of days, wandered around , bought food, cooked, had fun with the money changers trying to get denominations of less that 100 bolar notes ( they get well uppity and throw your dollars back at you if you asked in some places :-) There is a "holy hill" here that we also climbed for fantastic views of the lake and to see more families doing the blessing thing, here they have little models of their cars and houses for sale along with more firecrackers and libation beer that they all get together to bless, that was fun to watch.
One of the main attractions for the town is that it offers a boat service to the Isla del sol, the legendary birthplace of the first Inca, and a big tourist draw. Being tourists it was a must for us, and the next morning we were on the 8am boat to the island in the cold blazing sunshine ( V odd that , it being sooo sunny and yet sooo cold !) the boat was totally full ( it is argentian and Brazilian summer holidays and the town is to them what miami is to americans on spring break), in addition it was the slowest boat on the lake, we set off 30 mins befeor any otehr boat and arrived 30 mins later ( 3 hrs in total) but the views were magnificent. On the island its a bit of a free for all, if you speak spanish ( as did everyone except for us and about 2 other couples) you get lead off to a museum (or something) but we were left to fend for ourselves.
Luckily H found a map and we located the "ridge walk path" a high path that climbs to the top of the hills and alows you to walk from one end of the island to the other ( about 3 hrs) that we did.
The walk was excellent, fantastic views, bracing wind, excellent sunshine and it seemed like we were the only people doing it (all the others opted to get back on the boat I guess). The funniest part however was that at strategic locations along the way, little old men sat with books of tickets to charge us for walking the path, naturally by the time you get to them, its too late to go back and you have to buy a ticket !! Very cunning.. we managed to bamboozle one and slip past, but the others got us.
Eventually we climbed down an old inca stair back to the boat for the three hour ride back to town.
In the evening, we decided to treat ourselves and go out for dinner (oooh get us).. BIG MISTAKE !! the restaurant was fine, but our waitress had the mental capacily of a slug who was in the remedial class at slug school ! My order came ok, but H's dissappeared, only to come 30 mins later as the wrong thing ( the dumbass had given H´s food to someone else who was too dumb to notice and just ate it.. fuck there are soo many fucking stupid people in this world), so I took it back and 15 mins later the right thing finally arrived ! things were then livened up by the appearance of Eduard and Katja from the MP trip, only in town for the night , so we sacked off the restaurant, hit the most happening bar in town and tried our best to get hammered !! YAY !! ( Ps Bolivain beer is pretty good, My favourite is Huari, and it comes in Half pints ( CHOP) or full ints ( SUPERCHOP !! yay!)
On the following day we were heading off to La Paz, but, .....the best laid plans of Mice..... H was EXTREMLY sick, we recon the "replacement meal" had probably been used as a floor scourer before service, so after a bit of a mad rush to keep the room, change the bus tickets etc we stayed for another day, with H in bed shivering and me being the best florence nightingale I could be. ( whcih is not very good Im afraid, I look crap in the uniform and keep thinking Im In a "carry on" movie.... ooooher nurse !
24 hrs later and H felt a bit better so we packed up and set off for La Paz, a walk, taxi and unmarked bus later.. ( V odd) including an unexpected ferry crossing of the lake ( Bus and all, on little wooden boats.. H will Upload the pics) we arrived in La Paz, the furiously busy political capitol of Bolivia and set of through the streets to find our hostel ( which we did without incident !). La Paz is a crazy place... stories of which I will regail you with next time, when the feeling comes back into my two typing fingers.....
Hasta Luego !!
M&H. xxx

karenltate says:
M&H we are really enjoying the blog and pics. Apart for being ill and Mat trying to be a nurse?!! sound like you are having a great experience. I will look forward to the next installment. Take care, love Karen and Darren xx
Posted on: Jan 25, 2009
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
La Paz
photo by: wilfredoc2009