Crossings

We waved adios to Peru on a three-hour bus from Puno. Tracing the edge of the vast Lake Titicaca we crossed the Bolivian border, walking through the no-man’s land populated with yet more stalls attended to by bowler-hatted ladies and money exchanges reminding us that the days of the Peruvian Sole were over, and that thinking in Bolivianos was now the order of the day.

Copacabana (no, not the Barry Manilow version) was the first town we’d arrived to without booking accommodation. It soon became clear that this would be neither an expensive issue (hello Bolivia) nor a difficulty (hello low season Bolivia). After lugging our packs from hostel to hostel we eventually settled on a £5 room with a bathroom which, it’s fair to say, was the best of a bad bunch. Cheap, yes – but it feels it.

Copacabana confused us. Half hippy seaside town, half lakeside backwater, its feel of dilapidated 80s English resort in a place that could have been beautiful was distressing. Discarded soiled nappies were strewn across the waterside, the tourist restaurants served barely edible food at a cringingly slow pace and graffiti blighted almost every rock on the way up to the best view of the lake. We are trying hard not to impose our sometimes sanitised Western European standards onto some impoverished parts of the world, but seeing natural beauty scarred in such a way was a depressing experience, and one that we apparently shared with other visitors to the town. So, we opted to move onto La Paz, via another three-hour bus.

The bus journey was quite pleasant: fairly straight roads with good views of the lake and increasingly regular glimpses of snow capped mountains coiffured with cloud. It was made really good however, by an unexpected short break in the middle, as the pubescent drivers mate called our attention and rattled off some rapido Spanish. All that we understood was that we were to get off the bus and buy some sort of ‘boletta’ (ticket) for B$1.50 (14p). It was quite a surprise then, to see that our bus was being driven onto a flat wooden boat, using the momentum to push off, being turned around by a single man with a punt(!) and sailed across Lake Titicaca! We then queued and subsequently bobbed across the beautifully clear water in smaller craft whilst inexplicably being given a life-jacket in a country where virtually no road vehicle has seatbelts. We just hoped that we wouldn’t see our bus, containing all our possessions, have a Titanic moment. Luckily, we were soon across and on our way to the big city.

5 Comments to “Crossings”

  • Like the bus ferry!

  • Its raining in tring.

  • Hey Paul, where’s your trumpet man?

    • Above a sandwich shop in Preston unfortunately, mate. Will be there till I get back. It’s a bit more panpipes here though…

  • Yeah, I can just visualise you wearing a poncho playing some panpipes.