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duminică, 5 august 2012

Lake Titicaca, La Paz and Death Road

Damien and I had made into Bolivia after 2 buses and a 2 and a half wait inbetween. We had arrived in Copacabana which isn't as glamorous as its namesake in Brazil but has a little charm for itself. At this point I wasn't feeling too great and was keen to go and get myself a private room. Damien was happy with the idea too so we scouted out a decent hotel and checked in.


We then took a walk around to see what type of tour we could get for the next day involving Lake Titicaca obviously. There seemed to be a couple of options and Isla del Sol was what we were thinking before we arrived but after seeing some pictures we weren't too keen so chose to take a look at the Floating Islands instead which looked like something interesting to see and also more traditional. After that we took a stroll lakeside for a drink and some food then in the evening went out and found a decent restaurant where we ended up bumping into the Chilenas from my Jungle Trek, we had a chat and a little catch up as it wasn't that long since we last saw eachother.

They were all going to the Isla del Sol the next day then La Paz in the evening but we had chose to do 1 more night in Copacabana mainly so I could rest up and hopefully be better for La Paz especially as the weekend was approaching. The next day we had our tour around 1pm so had the morning free to hang out then we got picked up from our hostel and taken to a boat slightly traditional looking but the inside had seen better days. We hadn't paid much so we weren't expecting much...we had a driver and that it was obvious that he was nothing more than that....it was around half an hour in the boat but me and Damien still couldn't see anything in the distance although the boat was pointing towards the lake edge in front. We got closer and closer until we could see some really small islands that didn't look much of an attraction but it turned out it was them and we both just laughed...the place was a little square with tyres around the side keeping it afloat and a few people enjoying a coffee from the little shop on there. We couldn't work out why it was an attraction although I guess some of the straw looks nice it just didn't have anything special about it but for $10 cant expect much. We went to a little lookout on the top off a rock and just couldn't stop laughing but its all an experience we kept saying haha! It was then time to get the boat back...first we had to climb in past some excited or possibly drunk locals trying to take photos of our boat then the driver had problems getting the thing going but after 10mins and some elbow grease we were off for our 30min journey back which Damien and I both agreed was the best part. We got back and chilled out watching TV for a bit then packed our bags before I called it a night.

A 3 and a half hour bus took us La Paz - The Highest Capital City in the World, although needing to cross the lake along the way with the bus on a barge and us passengers having to buy a ticket to go across in a little boat. It was a Saturday afternoon and we seemed to have picked a busy day as some celebration was going on and there were thousands of people on the streets dancing and watching the parade. We had to squeeze through the crowds and at one point through the dancers to try and get to our hostel which was the other side of the road. After sorting things out in the hostel we took a map and went for a walk trying to find the party hostels ready for later on and also looking into the activities available. We did also manage to find the prison there which has a lot of history...but apart from seeing that we didn't walk around too much. In the night we went round to the Wild Rover hostel and spent the night there before going a club called Blue House that didn't actually open till 2am. I stayed until around 4 as I still wasn't fixed so I left Damien there and he ended up rocking back to the hostel around 7am I think. The next day wasn't too productive and we ended up just taking a walk around the markets before attending the Cholitas Wrestling which is supposed to be the Granny Wrestling. We got picked up around 3:30pm and the bus picked up from other hostels along the way. The arena was just outside La Paz and we got told that we may receive some abuse when getting off the bus but that never happened. We went inside and took our seats which where apparently the VIP ones closest to the ring. Our ticket also included some food and drink and also 2 toilet tickets giving us a limit on how many times we could go ha. It was a strange atmosphere and although I thought it would just be women wrestling it soon became clear it would be a mix and many wearing funny costumes and playing up to the crowd. After a few ´fights´the first women came out in her traditional dress which looked quite funny and she began wrestling and was actually quite good...the one annoying thing throughout the whole show was the ref who always had a favourite and made it obvious to the crowd so there was always a good and bad person and the matches would go on forever due to the ref cheating. After 2 hours (probably a bit too long) the show finished after some good entertainment and on more than a few occasions some of the guy wrestlers getting involved with the crowd and throwing drinks at people and it was time to go back to prepare our bags for the following day as we had booked in for the famous Death Road bike trip....would we survive? ha!

The bus picked us up along with some others in the morning ready for the ´Deadly Ride´. We went with the company Vertigo which was recommended to me by a friend, when we arrived high up in the mountains we met another few vans full of people who were also part of the same company. Everyone put all the equipment on and tested out the bikes. It was then time to get going and the first part way just on the road....we stopped every now and then to re group and also to get the feeling back in our fingers because it was freezing at this point. There were great views along the road until we reached a cloud and we could hardly see anything and it also made it a lot lot colder. With about an hour of riding done everyone was used to their bike and we stopped for a snack before driving to the actual Death Road. The weather was warming and the guide told us to take some layers from underneath the suit off as it was going to get warmer as we go down...he also explained that we should be keeping to the right hand side at all times and try to ride where there is a slight track in the road to avoid coming off. There must have been around 20 of us and we all set off...some at a rapid pace others at a snails pace. After a while of riding we made our first stop for photos...the road was quite narrow and extremely bumpy with the suspension working to the max. We all got a photo on one of the corners which seems to be where everyone does it then we continued on the road. Around 10 mins in there was a guy infront of me talking the corners quite wide he then went to turn but hit a deeper gravel part and flew off right in front of me, I just managed to stop before hitting him and when I asked if he was ok his response was with a few swear words which were clearly at himself as he was gutted he came off...no Injury though so all was ok (knee and elbow pads did the trick). The guide then told us the road would get a bit wider for the rest and that we had all survived the part where people die (good to know). We then carried on all the way down with the weather getting warmer and everyone´s arms taking a battering from the handle bars. We eventually made it to the bottom where we had a drink then went for lunch before taking the 3hr journey back to La Paz. Was a great day and good fun...definitely would have been a dangerous road when there was 2 way traffic on it! Now time to get my Death Road survivor t-shirt which I have noticed is one of the most worn t-shirts by travellers that have been to Bolivia. In the evening me and Damien went to the Loki and met up with the Chilenas and had a few drinks and some games of pool before going out for some partying....the girls were leaving early the next morning back to Chile so it was a farewell night until I get to Santiago in a few weeks time!

The following day it was time to sort out our next destinations with Damien booking a tour to the Salt Flats and myself booking a bus to Sucre. Both buses we were on left in the night so we hung out during the day watching films and some of the Olympics until it was time to go. We said our goodbyes after a good few days of travelling and and went our separate ways...my bus was a 12hr one but luckily I got one with Cama seats which I wasn't expecting to find in Bolivia so happy days.

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