I want to break free

Published: June 20th 2011
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Day 135 -138

Today we catch a flight to La Paz, on Aerosur. Feeling slightly nervous we board the plane which seems to be about 40 years old (leather seats, ashtrays and rusty doors). Marie-Katherine from our tour, who is an incredibly nervous flier, sits next to us. As we take off she begs us to talk to her to distract her, which we do, but we both feel increasingly nervous that the take off feels strange. It is like we aren’t going upwards, the plane is at a weird angle and when the plane veers left and right and jiggles up and down, MC asks us if this is normal, to which we both reply yes, but then I see that the fear in Em’s eyes confirms she also knows that this is definitely not OK. After saying a whispered goodbye to our families (in our heads) we eventually land safely.

Our first view of La Paz is from the altiplano above the town and it looks quite beautiful with the mountain backdrop. However on closer inspection it turns into a big dirty city. We check in and head to a novelty restaurant which is covered in penises... luckily they aren’t on the menu and we have an average meal which takes 3 hours... (the lonely planet mentions the glacially paced service). Having missed Lake Titicaca on the tour Em and I decide to go solo and stay on Isla del Sol on Lake Titicaca for 2 nights. The rest of the group opt for a day tour costing $53US each, which isn’t for us as it involves spending 7 hours on a bus (to La Paz and back). So we negotiate the Bolivian lack of information and are finally told to go to a tour company that just provides transport.

Waking up early we are picked up by our Diana tour bus and speed away to Lake Titicaca – funny bit of the journey is when the bus goes on a barge and we go on a small boat. We arrive in Copacabana, have a stroll and to our amazement find a restaurant that does home-made baked beans. Full of beans we catch the ferry to Isla del Sol, and happily meet two Yorkshire lasses, who are far more organised than us and a) have a book, b) have booked accommodation and c) one is fluent in Spanish – result! After landing and paying the island tax (with menaces from some women in bowler hats), we hike 50mins uphill which proves to be exhausting as we are above 4000m. Arriving at the hostel we all agree to have a drink and not move for the rest of the day. As the sun goes down we are treated to beautiful sunset and plan our hike for the next day. The evening is freezing and Em and I elect to share one of the 4 single beds in our room, with 5 duvets to keep warm.

Wake up to a lovely breakfast of warm bread and eggs, get our packed lunches and off we go. Lisa and Jen accompany us and after paying another small north island tax we are on the way to the inca ruins... The walk is beautiful and we stop at a cafe at the top of the big hill, where we are served by a small boy and are greeted by 2 cute dogs and their puppy. After this much needed coca tea break we push on to the ruins... which are small (luckily we weren’t expecting Machu Pichu). As lunch approaches we near a lovely beach, which is like something from the greek islands, and head down to have our packed dinners. I make the mistake of approaching 2 donkeys and feeding one of them a small piece of my sandwich. The donkey then races towards Em, Lisa and Jen, who are sitting down, and goes for Lisa’s sandwich. Lisa shouts at the donkey and we all try to shoo it away. But the donkey is very stubborn and Em tells me I had better sort it out as I created the problem. What ensues is lots of donkey pushing, which the girls find hilarious – and after a final stand off the donkey retreats and finally we are left in peace.

On the way back we see lots of wildlife including llamas and cute beach pigs that Em feeds her apple to, and after going through a deserted town and wondering where everyone is, we come across a village meeting at the top of the hill. The final adventure of the day involves Lisa unravelling a small pig that has wrapped its tether round a small bush... After an 8 hour hike we celebrate with dinner, wine and a game of yahtzee until we retire, exhausted to our freezing beds.

The next day, after a long journey back to La Paz, we meet our new tour leader, Sebastian, and are briefed on the tour for the next 10 days in Bolivia.

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