We kicked off the morning on the road by making our way towards the town of Copacabana, a small town nestled between two hills on the shores of Lake Titicaca where we paused for lunch at a pretty standard restaurant serving barely appetising burgers and fries. Bring on some new authentic Bolivian flavours I say!
What was meant to be a pretty straightforward border crossing following breakfast became anything but.
The process is meant to go something like this: get exit stamp for Peru upon paying the departure tax, cross the border, pay entrance fee to enter Bolivia, enjoy your stay.
Because Molly likes to remind us all she has a US citizenship from time-to-time, (yes, congrats Molly, very impressive *yawn*), in her infinite wisdom she produced her US passport as her form of identification on the Bolivian border.
As it turns out, the Bolivian Government ain’t all that keen on anything that has to do with the US of A, hence imposing an additional USD$135 VISA payment… money that Molly didn’t have on her.
After much fussing about (no doubt calling Mummy and Daddy looking for more money), all while increasingly agitated Bolivian guards with large automatic weapons looked on, she was able to scrape enough money together, borrowing from the rest of us, to allow us to continue on.
*Slow clap for Molly*
Next obstacle between us and the capital of Bolivia, La Paz, was a relatively short crossing of Lake Titicaca to avoid hours more driving. No high performance drive-on, drive-off jet ferries in this part of the world my friends, oh no.
Separating from our bus, we boarded our own passenger ferry and crossed the lake while watching our white chariot being carefully loaded up onto a rickety barge and floated across tentatively in the near distance as a storm hit and hail started raining down all around us.
While waiting on the far side of the lake, I found a bloke with an ornately dressed Llama standing by the ferry terminal. I motioned that I wished to take a photo. He motioned that he wanted a ridiculous amount of money for the privilege. I motioned that I was no longer interested. I moved on.
Rocketing across more altiplano regions we were constantly in the shadow of a pretty severe looking storm – probably the same one that hit us on the lake crossing. It did make for some pretty impressive scenery out the windows, however.
Arriving in La Paz
I don’t think anything can quite prepare you for the breathtaking (literally) setting of this high altitude capital. The sprawling litter of orange brick commercial and residential buildings, home to some 10 million Bolivians that we found ourselves battling on the roads in a bid to get to our Hotel Las Brisas towards the centre of town.
Upon checking in, it was time to start thinking about what we were going to do while in town. A group of us made our way up to the 5th floor bar area to talk with a representative from a local tour company specialising in mountain biking day trips along Bolivia’s infamous “Death Road”.
There was NO WAY I was going to miss this opportunity to hurl ourselves down a crazy amount of altitude along one of the world’s most hazardous roads – sorry Mum, it has to be done. As could be expected of a guiding company in a South American country we peppered them with questions regarding safety and legitimacy of the guiding product they were offering.
Jesse, the rep seemed to be on the ball with his answers and concern for our wellbeing. His reward? A group of us slapped 600bs (about USD$90) on the table to secure our spots on the trip tomorrow. I can’t wait!
Oh yeah, dinner? YUM! Bolivia has so far really delivered in the food stakes. Consider the couple of shots below pictorial proof of the fuel I consumed this evening in prep for tomorrow’s adventure.
Posted in: Travel