Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Peru to Bolivia. Why are guys in Ski masks following me? Lake Titicaca, Floating islands of the Uros, La Paz Bolivia

Today I went to visit Lake Titicaca.

As a young boy I used to look at a globe they had at school and always looked for the longest and funniest names. Titicaca was my favorite because –caca, means poop in Spanish. At age 8, it was amazingly hilarious.

Getting to the lake from Cuzco was a tough, cold and rainy event. 15,000 ft above sea level and the wind chill factor did not help my freezing fingers.

I arrived in Puno, Peru and bunked down for the night.

The next day I was off to the famous floating islands of Puno on Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest lake.
Jumped on a boat for a 40 min ride to the islands. Met a nice lady from Puno, to which I had some nice conversation with about life.

On Titicaca

On the boat with the locals

Also met a cool guy that his camera battery died so I took some pics of him to send him later on.

Life on an island

Turns out the floating islands are manmade of reeds that have to be restacked every 15 days as the island sinks over time. As well their houses that have to be lifted up every 30 days to accommodate the new reeds, and they live off their boats they have to remake every 3 months as they get water logged.

Island Pigs

Flag of Peru
Sounds like a pain in the butt to me, but living on a floating island might be worth it….for a day or two at least

We had the whole process explained to us by this guy. As half the lake is in Peru and the other half in Bolivia his running joke was that the name Titicaca was shared by both. Titi-was for Peru and caca- was for Bolivia, remember what caca means right?

Good way to show the representation of the island

Some people took a ride on what was called the “Mercedes Benz” of the boats there. I saved myself some money by not jumping on for the 10 minute ride.

We finally headed back to shore.

Island cat

Of course on the way out there was more junk to buy. Things I can not carry, but will happily take pictures of for the memories.

I picked up the moto and off I went to Bolivia.

On the way to Bolivia

Arriving at the border exit out of Peru from immigration and Customs was easy as eating cake, and eating cake is pretty easy.  But I was charged a $2.50 dollar sur charge for using the road to cross from Peru to Bolivia. Complete $@**, if you ask me, they got lucky I had only $5 left of change, otherwise it could have gotten ugly. Alex vs. the world yet again.

Adios Peru!

Hello Bolivia!

So back home you can’t bring back any fruit of vegetables across the border. Well here they obviously didn’t care at all and isn’t such a touchy issue.

Entry to Bolivia was easy with immigration and customs. Unfortunately most visitors including American citizens have to pay a $130 dollar visa to get in. I had purchased mine from the embassy back in the states for $100 before the price went up, lucky me.

As I finished up the entry I headed towards the capital f La Paz. It was already late so I drove on through the night to reach the big city by 8pm. Traffic and pollution was terrible, and I was dodging traffic as if I was playing the game Crazy Taxi, or playing the game Fogger for the more mature crowd.

The next morning I explored the capital of La Paz.

There was an entire district filled with shops, I counted in the thousands of little stores selling stuff.

No supermarkets, no clothing stores, no Wal-Marts, nothing. Just these places to get your stuff.

There was even 5 square blocks of home improvement and tool stores.

I continued seeing the typical hats and clothing of the indigenous.

Great cheap way to transport your child. So much for strollers

I bought myself some new $5 dollar headphones as my other ones broke recently. And had some cheap food.

Bolivia is the poorest nation in South America, and its beginning to show with the beggars on the street, and the price for food. $2 to $3 dollars gets you full.

As I walked through the streets, I was approached by a guy with a ski mask on. At first I thought, oh man, I’m getting mugged, get ready, here we go. But turns out he just wanted to shine my shoes. Every shoe shiner had on a ski mask for some reason, and it was freaky and awesome at the same time walking through the streets and having guys in ski masks chase after you trying to shine your shoes.

Passed by a cool restaurant made of sheet metal.

I hung out around town, had some more food and called it a day.

Tomorrow, driving the worlds most dangerous road. the Yungus Road of Death!

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