Published: April 2nd 2012March 31st 2012
This little guy took a liking to Jen. Followed her around for awhile. You know in Mario when the ghost stops following when you look at him? He did the same thing.
Wednesday, March 28th, 2012
Our next stop on our trip was Copacobana, a quaint town on the shores of Lago Titicaca. But seeing as how Curtis accidentally miscalculated the length of time required for the trip, we decided after arriving in Copacobana to just push through to Puno in Peru. This is that mildly unentertaining story.
How do we describe our uneventful bus ride? So, from Uyuni to La Paz is 12 hours. La Paz to Copacabana is anoth 5 hours. And lastly, Copacabana to Puno is another 6 hours. We spent so much time riding buses that both our ankles and calves swelled into balloons. In addition to our burns from the Salt Flats (don't underestimate the power of the sun at almost 3 miles from the sea). Why doesn't Bolivia nor Peru run trains daily? Also off topic but of note: Bolivia prices for bus run about 10 Bolivianos (about $1.50) per hour of travel. So transportation is cheap, but you get what you pay for.
La Paz, Bolivia
The overnight bus finally arrived in La Paz on time and before Jen could make the phone calls to cancel the credit and debit cards, a bus
Swollen and sunburned
After sitting on a bus for almost 24 hours.
was ready to move us on.
Part of Bolivia is separated by Lago Titicaca and is only accessible via ferry. Passengers are required to deboard the bus and ride a ferry across a narrow portion of the lake. The ferry runs 2 Bolivianos. We arrived in Copacabana an hour late but still had plenty of time to make neccessary arrangements for crossing the border and cancelling Jen's cards. We even had time to check out an awesome moorish cathedral in the center of town. Effortlessly, we crossed the border without having to pay an exit fee, go through customs, nor get another visa.
For those who do not know, Americans MUST have a visa to enter Bolivia. You may or may not need: two 4x4 cm passport photos, yellow international vaccination card for yellow fever, or itinerary of stay in Bolivia including reservations. However, you WILL need $135 crisp, non-torn American dollar bills. Exit fees for Bolivia and Peru are $25 and $35, respectively. But is only paid when leaving either country back to America, not between the two.
The Puno bus ride was slow and painful as well. Something we hadn't planned for were swollen ankles, like balloons. Much like cankles, you couldn´t tell where the leg ended and the foot began. Apparently, due to the altitude and combination of sitting so long, both of us developed a bit of big-foot.
Even though we arrived rather late in the evening we still got an awesome hotel: Helena Ïnn, and had a very nice meal at the Plaza de Armas. It was raining pretty hard so we didn't
venture far. Us, being Oregonians, should tell you how hard the rain was since we are quite used to it. The thing was, it was not the rain that was miserable, it was the street river that formed. It was impossible to get to the other sidewalk without getting water up to your cankles.
Thursday, March 29th, 2012
We awoke rather early for breakfast on the top floor which offered a beautiful panoramic view of the city. A British nanny brought up the most ungrateful child. It was classic, they make movies about these kids. Anyway, he wanted chocolate milk, the nanny says she doesnt think they have it but asks anyway... they don´t. The child explodes into a tissy-fit. Hillarious. Anyway, we had bread, (Jen had) headcheese, cheese, jam, coffee, tea, and juice. We went to the bus station, and began the last leg of our journey to Cusco.
This must have been the most authentic part of our journey so far. We researched the best tour bus to go with but unfortunately didn´t see any of them at the termal so Jen, tired of walking up and down the terminal, stopped at one that
was boarding in five minutes. We boarded and were off.
The first leg of the trip was gorgeous, with views of Puno and Lake Titicaca. However, little did we know we were on a bus that did multipul stops along the way, which was a great way to get to see the small towns we usually would have missed if we went straight there but also made the trip quite a bit longer.
The third stop we made, Curtis got off the bus to use the baño (a very important word to know) and to get water at Jen´s request. After a few minutes Jen started to get nervous because Curtis wasn´t back yet. Then the bus started to take of, confirming what Jen had feared. She got up yelling that her friend was not back and to not leave yet. Her being the only tourist on the bus and yelling in very broken Spanglish apparently amused the locals that didn´t have much else to entertain themselves with. Eventually the bus stopped at the entrance gate as Curtis was running for the bus. Remember we´re at a high altitude so he was out of breath for a while
so it was probably quite annoying that Jen wouldn´t let go of him because she was so happy he was back.
The more interesting things that happend on our bus trip: a sales person pitched his wares for about an hour, a man sang a song (as well as doing his own back up singing, which was done very well), everytime we got to a village women would hop on with the bus coming to a slow crawl and sell random things (such as the largest corn we´ve ever seen) then get off on the opposite side of their village, a duo of women sold a roasted pig (all Jen could see was the cleaver swing horror movie style as she chopped it up, and we (and I mean Curtis) talked to a VERY friendly lady that got on the bus to sell her treats. She knew english well and we were surprised she wasn´t doing something more with her talent and education.
We made it! As soon as we got into Cusco we got a room at the Cusco Hotel (formally the Innka Sol Hotel) where the only thing good about it
Puno to Cusco Bus
If you can afford to upgrade. Do it.
was the view. As for the rest of the day, we found an alright restaurant, then called it a night.
The next morning we checked out of the hotel and got a room right down the street, the Del Prado Inn. This was by far the nicest place we have stayed. They gave us a great rate too. Normal price is $110 and we got it for $75! The rest of the day was spent exploring the plazas and then off to the ruins.
The ticket for the ruins, which are located about 15 minutes outside Cusco, was 70 Soles, good for one day, and can be purchased on site. Tambomachay
After purchasing our tickets, we walked up a cobblestone path to the site. The weather was perfect and there were virtually no other toursits around. On the path was a llama feeding on the grass. Curtis encouraged Jen to pose with it, which she hesitantly did. She was afraid the herbavore would suddenly eat her face off. Wuss. Then she tried playing the cards on Curtis by having him pose with it. We walked up to it and placed his hand on its back. Further
along the path we aproached the site which was immaculate. We got some good photos, read a bit about its history, and left. RUIN 2
This was where we encountered the scary and cute alpaca. It must have smelled the Inka Chips Jen had in her pocket because it kept following her around, to her dismay. It was cute but she was sure it still had the capability to bite her face off, which made her leery about touching it.
Earlier, we were told at the tourist office you can either walk from the second site to the third or take a microbus. Since it was a beautiful day outside we decided to walk. THIS IS NOT RECOMMENDED DISPITE THE INFORMATION WE GOT. The absence of a sidewalk or safe path plus the cars driving at incredible speeds makes for an unpleasant stroll. At one point we decided to take a short cut around a very long switchback. At first it was a geat idea, until we got to the bottom where we were met with a flooded horse pasture that needed to be crossed in order to get back to the road. Needless to say, we
made it with a good amount of water/mud attached to our lower extremities. RUIN 3
We breezed through this site because of how tired and dirty we were. We caught our first microbus to what we thought would drop us off close to our hotel ... it didn´t. Instead, we had our second authentic Peurvian experience. The microbus would stop in the middle of the street whenever someone hailed it. Eventually the tiny bus was overflowing with locals and we had no idea where we were. Eventually we got to the bottom of the hill and we think we were advised this is where we wanted to get off. When we tried to pay we couldn´t understand what she was trying to tell us so Curtis, in desperation, held out a handful of coins and to the amusement of everyone on the mirobus told her to take what she needed.
We wandered around a bit and finally caught a taxi back to familiar territory. The first thing we did was clean up and to our relief found out the laundry place next door to the hotel did two hour laundering for our mud covered shoes, which we
needed the next day for Machu Picchu.
There are more photos below