September 8th, 2008 – by: skydiver
Bolivia is sort of different from the other Latin American states. This landlocked country (the only one in South America besides Paraguay) is despite the fact that it’s the poorest of the continent one of the richest in terms of natural resources. It has also the biggest percentage of indigenous population, which is around 60%. A country in a complicated political situation since the election of the left wing orientated former coca farmer Evo Morales. We heard before that there were strikes going on especially in the region of Santa Cruz, one of our biggest fears was to get stucked somewhere due to a blockade of the roads.
The bus we were sitting in was now heading to Bolivia, the country called after Simon Bolivar, the liberator from the Spanish rule.
We planned to get off in Copacabana which was still located by the Lake Titicaca, but the bus was supposed to continue directly to La Paz. Well, Bolivia is an unpredictable complicated though beautiful country, the roads to the capital were blocked as our driver announced. A demonstration again, anyway, the driver meant that it should be finished by the next day. We were soon approaching the border check point between Peru and Bolivia. Looked more like a huge Arabic basaar then a border. People were just everywhere, our bus had to stop even for a couple of minutes because there was some sort of festival and guys wearing local costumes and playing instruments were blocking the street. At least it didn’t take long and we could pass again.
This place didn't really amaze us.
The Peruvian border control went pretty easy, we all passed it quite quickly.
A Peruvian guy from our bus seemed to coordinate that everything runs smoothly and when we were done he told us to follow him through the border. He meant we should not stop and just follow him. We could guess the reason, we heard that this place was famous for thefts and we didn’t want to become the next victims. The passport control on the Bolivian side went smoothly as well, cool. Honestly, I expected the guys would come up with some sort of stupid fee they invented by themselves. At least something like that happened to me when I crossed the border between Mexico and Guatemala years ago.
View on Copacabana.
It was already dark and a bit cold when we arrived in Copacabana. It’s quite common to find in North and South America places having the same name, the same happened here.
Unfortunately the Bolivian Copacabana had almost nothing to do with its famous Brazilean cousin. The bus let us out at a crossing and from here we started to search for an accomodation. It didn’t take long and we found one. The price was more then fine, even if the hostel was pretty simple. At least we had a big room for ourselves.
Taking the boat.
Of course we were hungry and wanted to see what’s around as well. We walked down the street where our hostel was located until we reached the lake. Then we just turn round and entered one of the places we saw before. In front of it stood a girl with the grateful job to get more guests inside, poor her, it was really cold outside at this hour. We chatted a bit with her before we entered, she was from Argentina and traveled around South America. Well, obviously she needed to rise up her budget a bit. The restaurant we got in was really nice, there was even a life band playing guitars. While we were eating they played in a different room closer to the entrance, but they came to play into our room right when we ordered some coca tea and some beers. The guys were not bad at all, that’s why we threw some coins into the hat when one of the waitresses came along to ask for a little contribution for the artists. Dan had no Bolivian coins anymore, so he put a Peruvian sol into the hat. Bit later when the music finished we heard the band saying “Who put Peruvian money into the hat?”. The waitress pointed at us and the guys came to say hello. They asked us where we were from and wondered then a bit about the answer. According to them we left them more money then the Western Europeans and Americans in the other room. We chatted a bit, these guys were from Argentina and Chile and their music helped to earn some money to get along. Not bad.
We were quite tired so we went to bed early. I dared to take a shower in the shared bathroom before sleeping but it was a huge challenge as the water wasn’t very warm and outside it started to be freezing.
Next morning we had some breakfast and got afterwards into a bus direction La Paz. Copacabana lies on a peninsula which is connected with the mainland on the Peruvian side. To get to La Paz we had to get off the bus after a while and took a little ferry. Another ferry transported our bus.
While we were waiting in the queue to get the tickets for the passage a blond guy approached us. He heard us talking in Slovak and he turned out to be Czech. This young guy has been traveling around South America for a half year already and survived on a very little budget. To be truth each of us spend more in a day then him in 5 days. Quite interesting which kind of people it’s possible to meet while traveling. The traveling continued soon again and our bus was bringing us kilometer by kilometer closer to La Paz.