day of the unchartered boats

It has been awhile, I´ll give you that but there really is too much to tell.

We left La Paz with the hopes of getting to Copacabana but it was blockaded and had been for a few days so we decided to get adventurous. We took a taxi to the cementery district of the city and there caught a minibus with 15 other people (yes, we all fit somehow!) along with one Belgian guy who was celebrating his 22nd birthday that day. We took this little bus up out of the canyon, through El Alto and then two hours later arrived at the border town of Desaguadero, not used often except for blockades apparently. We had lunch, the three of us, which included soup, a plate with rice and meat and potates and sodas and for all 3 of us it cost 3 dollars, unbelievable. We walked across the border into Peru and got into another minibus going to the other border of Peru and Bolivia, Yagunyo or something like that. We got there and crossed the border back to Bolivia with 3 Argentine girls and the Belgian. It was still 12 miles to Copacabana and we could have walked it, but of course no cars could pass and the roads were all blocked with rocks placed in disadvantageous places.

Then some other gringos at the border said they had just taken a boat to copacabana. This was not the kind of boat you find in the guidebook. Really, we said. A man appeared and said for 25 bolivianos each he would take us. The Argentine girls said no more than 10. The dude walked away, another appeared and said, okay, 10. We followed him down a path that looked a prime place to get robbed, were escorted on rowboats out to the main boat and then had to wait for a few more tourists to get wrangled into the deal. We arrived at Copacaban around 6.30pm, about 8 hours after our day had started. We had officially entered a city that was blockaded.

Walking up the main street from the beach, it was obvious this town was dead because of the blockade. A guy offered us rooms much cheaper than normal, Assiyeah and I paid less than 4 dollars for a room with private bath and TV! We had a great dinner of trout caught in the lake and then called it an early night.

The next day we went Isla del Sol, the birthplace of the Incas. After the two hour boat journey, we hiked up 30 minutes to the top of the island and had the most amazing views from our room for 10 dollars! Dinner was about 3 bucks a person with soup, trout and rice and dessert of banana with chocolate sauce. I can´t even describe the sunset we saw.

This morning they tried to screw us again. They said the tourist boat wasn´t coming because no tourists were around and so our only chance to get back to the mainland was to go with the husband of the woman at the hotel who was going to get gas. He wanted 30 bolivianos for the same trip that cost us 10 the day before! We were unsure and, after asking a couple of other unrelated people down the dirt path, they assured us the boat was leaving from the other side at 10.30 like always.

So we walked down some Inca steps, and made it to the bottom where the boat driver told us he wanted 60 per person! Then 50. We sat down to wait awhile and then another couple came down. He said 30 was the best he could do and when we said no, he and his buddies started walking up the steps we had come down. They disappeared and now we thought we would have to wait 6 hours for the 4pm boat. Then another dude appeared wanting 30 but the Argentine girls got him down to 20. But the 2 Peruvian people waiting with us couldn´t pay that much so we agreed to pay 5 for two of them. Then a third person wanted this special price and we more or less turned a deaf ear and they had to haul their 6 heavy bags off the boat.

We got back to Copacabana around 12.30 and the dude who had taken us from the border the day before was there waiting, happy to take us for 10 Bolivianos, especially because someone else offerred only 8. We went with the 10 Bollie dude and then another 2 bolivianos for the row boat to shore and we were at the border again. To Bolivian exit stamp, then Peruvian entry stamp, a taxi to the bus station and then a 2+ hour bus to Puno, Peru where we are now. There is stuff I am leaving out but that is okay, I will tell you more soon, especially because we are going to Cusco tomorrow! This was the capital of the Inca Empire and I have read quite a bit about it lately and am excited to see it. We should be arriving around dark tomorrow and stay for 3 days and then go to Machu Picchu, then to Arequipa if possible and then to Lima to finish up! I will be home in Germany in 16 days!


2 Responses to day of the unchartered boats

  1. Moondoggie says:

    No one could pull this off like you Dukes! More american highlights: FOOTBALL starts today, Thursday night dolphins and the steelers at 8:30pm. I ate a steak that I conveinently bought at Vons for $4, grilled it and thought about what you and Assiyeah may be eating around the same time. Tonight is softball with the guys, and will end the night watching football at Oggies Pizza and spiltting a few pitchers of beer ($7 a pop) I know your probably getting a little run down by now, but your spirits seem high, and that’s great. Keep it up, it’s a once in a lifetime trip(or in your case a few times)
    * Energy and persistence conquer all things.
    -Benjamin Franklin
    * Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them – every day begin the task anew.
    -Saint Francis de Sales

    Later Bro, say hi to Assiyeah!

  2. nancy says:

    Hi Sweetie,
    Mooney’s right. Only you could pull this off!!Can’t wait to hear more about it and to hear yuour voice again. Miss talking every Sunday! Sounds like you should be on budget–money sure goes further there-Holland was completely the other way–a cab we took in Argentina for $3.00 cost us 25 to 30 euros. Go figure!! I love you, Love, mom

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