Tuesday, April 23, 2013

From Puno to Copacabana to La Paz, Peru - Mum and child travel journal

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We have booked Peru Tours.
Today is the first day the border of Peru has been open.
We have already lost money on a tour (with Escandinavia Travel) we booked to complete this,
that were unable to complete the journey, and refused to refund us.
The driver picks us up at 7 a.m.
He grabs 5 Bolivianos for bus terminal tax.
We ask for a front seat, so after waiting 1 hour, the bus finally turns up,
and he juggles passengers and puts us about ½ way.
We have a fabulous view of the lakes, local markets -
– mainly selling bulls and cows, and local houses.
We arrive at the border.
We are told to exchange money here as we need it for part of the journey.
I am warned that the Bolivian border sometimes does searches.
If they find you have US$, they will confiscate it, saying it is counterfeit.
So I roll it up, and hide it in my shoe.
It is an uncomfortable walk – first to two offices on the Peru side.
Then a 300 metre walk to the Bolivian side.
There my son decides to throw a temper tantrum because I won’t buy him Pringles.
So as we wander off discussing his junk food intake, we lose the bus.
Next thing I know, we are stopped by police and asked for our documents.
On completion of a mini interrogation in Spanish, we are pointed back toward the Peru border.
I find the bus, and have a stern talk with my son about why we don’t start fights at border crossings!

In a few minutes we are in Copacabana.
We are told to change buses – grab our bags and stack them in a n office.
But we can’t find the office. Rows of buses hide it across the road.
Finally, someone finds us.
10 minutes of our 1 hour in Copacabana is gone.
A brisk walk down the road, leads us to Lake Titicaca.

We try 3 places to buy lunch.
Eventually we order an overpriced pizza.
I down a bottle of drink while we wait.
The pizza arrives, right at the minute we are to get on the bus.
We tear up the hill.
The pizza box is the thinnest of cardboard, and my son is clutching it for dear life. 
By the time he is on the bus, it is completely upturned and squashed.
Not the best bus food for a windy road.
I go and find the bags.
It is then I discover we have a 5 hour trip and no toilet on the bus.
I charge off, and have to find my way around backs of buildings.
I have learnt to carry my own paper.
I pay my 2 Bolivianos, and make a mad dash back to the bus.
I regret that drink!
We wind through the hills, eating cold and squashed pizza. 
We only manage a couple of slices each, and give up.

My son has a little sleep, and I contort in the seat waiting for the next Bano.
We reach the lake, and I make a mad dash.
It seems like 500 metres to the toilet.
I pay again.
I am quite over the paying for toilets!
We race to find the bus loaded on a ferry – which looks like it might sink.

We take a motor boat – it fails to start, and it finally limps its way slowly over the lake.

We are greeted by a lone alpaca, tied to a reed seat.

 My son enjoys a jelly for about 20 cents.
We hop back on the bus, passing ladies washing their clothes in the waterways.
Rich and poor houses are along the shore of the lake.
Magnificent hotels are all along the shore -
– oh I want to stay here!
The scenery changes.
Windows on the bus close, and people don coats.
Snow covered mountains drawer closer, and it seems to take forever to get to La Paz.

We pass a multitude of poor little stores...
... mainly with ladies sitting and knitting on the doorsteps.
We see a market, shrewn with litter.
It is so poor.
This is a shock to both of us.

The driver stops ... we are presented with one of the biggest cityscape's I have ever seen.
My son makes a movie.
He says he will not leave my side.
It goes on forever.
We arrive in La Paz.
But instead of going to the bus terminal, the bus stops in the centre of town.
So my plans of booking a hostel near the terminal have all gone pear shaped.

We share a cab to the bus terminal with some others from the bus.
He speaks Spanish.
He pays his share.
The driver then tries to take us to a different hostel.
I tell him where it is and he won’t listen.
We are 2 blocks from where we dropped the others off.
He takes over ½ hour to get there.
Then he tries to charge us double taxi fare.
We negotiate – really it is not a big deal, but the principal annoys me. 

The hostel is run by Christians, so that helps and surprises us.
We get a clean room.
This place is freezing. It is so quiet.
We try to find a restaurant but it is getting dark, and it is only local food.
We eat little, buy a few snacks at a store and head back.
I boil the “immerser” to fill the hot water bottle.
We tuck into bed.

NB: I have now received 2 emails from Escandinavia Travel
telling me to stop bugging them and too bad about them ripping me off.
They tell me they don't care, and have so many more tourists it doesn't matter.
I guess in blogging, I also aim to help prevent other tourists having the same fate.
So if just one person reads this and saves their money, I will be happy.

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