The End of South America
Lima Travel Blog› entry 9 of 16 › view all entries
The day after the Death Road was the World Cup Final between Spain and Holland, and as we still inhabited a hostel where the majority of the population were European, both nations were well represented, although I'd say the Dutch had slightly higher numbers. However, in the most important category, that of the most attractive female supporter, the Spanish contingent won convincingly. A number of these chicas were positioned near Kev and curiously, all of his trips to the bar seemed to coincide with theirs. That said, bless him, I can't imagine he would have been able to muster anything more than a couple of words to these girls courtesy of his physical state. Personally in terms of chat-up lines, I think 'my love for you is like diarrhoea....I can't seem to hold it in' would have been quite appropriate given his still constant trips to the lavatory.
After spending much of the morning presiding over whether going out before the night before doing the Death Road was a sensible idea, Toby blamed his poor performance on the consumption of Valium to help himself relax. Having got bored of watching Nigel De Jong kick lumps out of the Spanish midfield, myself and Toby decided to go and get some ice-cream from town, and Lynsey informed us she and Kev would also require some. We arrived at the shop to find a young lady in front of us in the queue, who despite her tender years, would still require a road-safety diversion sign should she happen to fall over whilst journeying around town. This led Toby to question whether we would obtain any ice-cream at all, and whether she was one of the mysterious 'skirted' ladies. If you ever happen to come to Bolivia, it won't take long before you come across one of these women. They always seem to have more bags than they are capable of carrying, and hips to which the rest of their body doesn't correspond. Upon investigation, I was informed Lynsey Panton and a local that these 'hips' are actually a result of them wearing a number of dresses/skirts, which facilitates them essentially 'sh*tting at bus stops or on their travels. Apparently it allows them to squat without anybody really noticing. This would go some way to explaining why they always seem to be significantly shorter than everyone else, and the slightly disturbing smell that followed them around. After wondering whether we should carry out surveillance whilst queuing and check the floor for faeces, we concluded she probably wasn't one of them, and that we should concentrate on ordering frozen deserts.
And that we did, although Kev's 3 large chocolate scoops in a tub somehow turned into a single scoop in an edibile wafer basket, but we kept it as we found it too funny to re-order. We began our journey back, and in turn our ascent towards the hostel. In La Paz the oxygen content in the air is so low that you cannot walk and talk whilst walking a hill, let alone walk, talk and eat. Toby was attempting the latter with relative aplomb when he suddenly tripped up a step, crashed into a corrugated steel fence, and whilst alerting all the dogs in the southern hemisphere, lost control of what he was carrying. To say that one of the puddings went everywhere and had to be scooped up and put back in its tub, would be an understatement, but we relieved to remember that Lynsey had ordered the same as us, so the spilt one quickly became hers. After self-applauding our quick thinking we returned to the hostel and watched Lynsey's face as she devoured hers whilst complaining to Kev about 'wondering what they make the ice-cream with, as it tastes a bit gritty'.
Following Spain's victory we boarded a bus to Copacabana, a little town on the edge of Lake Titicaca in Bolivia. Parts of Bolivia are beautiful beyond description and this was no exception, with the journey showcasing some of the finest, un-touched parts. When we arrived, as if by ritual, Kev's internal organs had determined that he had arrived at a new place of residence and the normal 'new-hostel' toilet treatment proceeded within seconds of arriving. This was made a lot funnier by the fact that the toilet door didn't lock and the window was a hole in the wall, so neighbours could; if not see, certainly hear, what was occurring. As we'd arrived late in the evening, we only had time to arrange activities for the next day and find somewhere to eat. The only place that didn't look it was going to be serving complimentary food poisoning happened to be the only place still open, so were seated at La Orilla. I wouldn't usually bring up a restaurant, however I believe this to be the only restaurant in the world to sell Trout Lasagne, which may I add is the Chef's speciality. The other three (we were minus Kev) played safe, and opted for more traditional dishes, whilst I chose the lasagne much to the delight of the waiter. I am pleased to say it was, and still is, the best pasta dish I have ever consumed - do not be put off by the title. Aidan found himself hilarious in commenting that, judging by the type of girls that are attracted to me, this wouldn't be the only trout I would experience for the rest of my trip.
The morning after, we took a boat ride to Isla Del Sol (Island of the Sun) to visit some of the Inca ruins. They were quite astonishing although i didn't get to see as much as I'd have liked at the second island because I was asking fellow tourists for money to be able to go to the toilet. It would seem the Director of Transport for London has an unlikely working relationship with the lady who worked in the toilets (who may I point out was barely capable of dressing herself, let alone running a small business venture) in charging for lavatory use. It is remarkable how self-sufficient the Inca's were, and the amount of ruins remaining is a testament to their construction skills. Not that Kev and Lynsey were in a mood to appreciate this as they complained about their sunburn on the return journey. Kev in particular was left almost as red-faced as John McCain after declaring Sarah Palin would be joining his presidential campaign team. I'm sure you can see Russia from your house on a clear day Sarah.
We arrived back with only an hour to spare before our bus to Puno. It took much longer than anticipated to change our currency because the woman behind the counter was angrier than an Arsenal fan gets when you remind them its been more than 5 years since they won anything. Upon collecting our money we went to a restaurant that we eventually had to run away from because we were going to miss our bus. Unfortunately the last thing that happened in Copacabana was the most shocking thing I have ever seen. The toilets at the restaurant were operated privately, by a lady in a role akin to the aforementioned lady on Isla Del Sol. The only difference here was that there was no water in the toilets, and they were in fact cleaned by what appeared to be her children. It's common knowledge that excrement in any form requires chemical treatment, and these children, of which the youngest was no older than 4/5 were carrying around the chemicals and pouring them down dirty, probably infected toilets. For all the fun we had in Bolivia, this and Lynsey having little children watching her standing up whilst going to the toilet gave us a harsh reality check of the conditions in which the 3rd world live in. We then boarded the bus to Puno.
Prior departing for Lima we took another boat trip to see the floating villages of Puno. I would thoroughly recommend this to fellow travellers - the simplicity of their lifestyles is astounding, and their use of the elements and all materials natural is beyond comprehension. About 1 and 1/2 hours our bus journey to Lima, it became clear that the little Ecuadorian chap that was sat next to Lynsey had taken a liking to her, and was beginning to unleash the full rapier of his chivalry skill. Things became somewhat awkward however, when he proposed to her and was slightly taken aback by her rebuff, and tensioned heightened when the bus waiter man decided it must be his turn to charm the white foreign blonde. Naturally we protected Lynsey, but not before having a discussion about who would look better at the wedding if we all had equal access to Chuck Bass' wardrobe beforehand.
After watching 8 films, breaking down 100 miles outside Lima and taking the worst cab in South America, we had beaten the clock and arrived in Lima before our flight to Atlanta was going to take off. We indulged in a Burger King to say an emotional goodbye to Lynsey, Aidan and Toby, before going to the airport.
As usual Kev was nervous about flying, however things were looking up when his seat had been double booked and it appeared that he was to be promoted to business class. At the last second though, as the seatbelt signs were about to come on before take-off, Kev was relocated in row 16, alas it was not to be. Normally I would have been jealous, but this time lady-luck had smiled at me, and their were two gorgeous Peruvian brunettes in the aisle seats next to me. More about them in the next entry...
And like that South America was over. 5 weeks of frolicking, debauchery, tomfoolery, and any other camp sounding words you care to mention had reached its conclusion. I love this continent and will be venturing back for the World Cup in Rio itself in 2014. If I can be serious for a second, the overriding emotions, no matter what country you are in are ones of happiness and delight, everybody is so happy all the time no matter what the economic situation or the state of their material possessions. We could learn a lot from them.