Thursday, February 10, 2011
Bolivia Border Run
Hey Hey! I know it's been a while but I have definitely been busy finishing up my last month at Maximo. I made a border run this past weekend which was much more expensive for me because unfortunately, Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia is not a fan of the United States. Unfortunately, for me that means paying $135 for a 5 year visa. Oh well, Maximo helped pay for $65 of it and they reimburse me 100 soles for transportation which is also helpful.
I joined this organization called Couch Surfing which is a group of people who either have a couch for people to stay on or are looking for a couch to sleep on when they travel. It's free and a great way to meet new people and like minded people. If you are interested in the organization, you should check out the website www.couchsurfing.org
All right so my trip started on Friday night as I took a 10pm bus to Puno from Cusco. At 4:30 I got to Puno where I had a layover for an hour and a half before I boarded a bus at 6am to La Paz. The ride wasn't too bad although there was not a working bathroom on board so I made a quick pit stop behind an abandoned building when the bus stopped to put air in the tires. Thank goodness for carrying tissues and hand sanitizer. After than fun little adventure I had the pleasure of crossing the Bolivian border and paying $135. I think the funniest part is that the Bolivian immigration people wanted a copy of the visa and my photo page from my passport but I had to go back into Peru to make the copy. They can't spring for a copy machine or at least a scanner? I guess considering there was no electricity in the building, it's not surprising. Fortunately, the Peruvian police at the border were cool with me just running back into Peru to make a copy. It was perfect timing when I got back to the Bolivian side because my bus was about to leave. Of course, I was the only American on the bus. I am not surprised that I didn't meet more Americans. Who wants to pay $135 to go to Bolivia? Haha me!
When I got into La Paz I called Jorge and got directions to his place. It was super nice staying with him because he lives in a very central part of La Paz. He is within walking distance to the main plaza and a bunch of restaurants and bars. On Sunday night we checked out the Alasitas festival which was just a few blocks away. We ate traditional Bolivian food, played foosball, and checked out all the miniature things that were being sold. Apparently, each small item has a meaning. If you want to make more money in the new year, you buy a small pack of money. If you want a boyfriend, you buy a little rooster. I enjoyed a chocolate covered apple and churros as well as getting my ass kicked in foosball. Haha.
Anyway, back to Saturday. I got to Jorge's apartment and his mother was making a typical Peruvian meal. There was a gathering of couch surfing friends who were there to partake in the consumption of delicious food such as ceviche (raw fish in lime juice, onion, and cilantro), and aji de gallina. Mmmm mmm! It was soo good. I even got to help make the pisco sours after we ate. I had a great time meeting Jorge's friends and his sister Melissa. We played Uno after eating and then Melissa, her boyfriend Rodrigo, her friend Nelly, and I made our way to Chalet, a restaurant pub. It was pretty full so we decided to get coffee at a place closer to the central. After coffee and great conversation we headed to the mall to see a movie. We saw "The Last Exorcism" which I thought was going to be really scary but ended up being really lame. Don't waste your money on it if you were thinking about seeing it. I only paid 25 Bolivianos for it ($3) but it was still a waste.
After the movie I went back to meet up with Jorge and we went to a bar called Jarón. I met a really cool chick named Jessica who is teaching in La Paz. She is from Utah which was a first for me meeting someone from Utah on my travels in SA. I also met her roommate Sara and Jorge's friend Juan Carlos came out too. After the bar we headed to a club to dance for a bit. The night was capped with some fries from a street vendor. I had a blast. The following day we had lunch with the family and chilled out until the evening when we went to Alasitas which I mentioned earlier. I was supposed to bike the Death Road on Sunday but it didn't work out because I was the only one signed up to do it and it doesn't make financial sense to go with just one person. Even though I really wanted to go on it, I guess I will just have to go back to La Paz some time soon to do it. I have my 5 year visa! I might as well not let it go to waste!
I got up super early on Monday morning since Jorge had a plane to catch. I met up with Juanca (Juan Carlos) and we went to the bus station. I was going to take a 5pm bus but there wasn't one so I had to get a 2pm bus to Copacabana. During the travel to Copacabana it is necessary to cross Lake Titicaca, the highest navegable lake in the world. It was pretty sweet. From Copacabana we were supposed to have a bus to cross the border but ended up going in mini busses. There weren't enough spaces for everyone either so some people had to sit in the aisle. Super safe, I know. In Puno, there also weren't enough tickets to get on a bus to Cusco that night. Fortunately, since I was traveling by myself, there was a space for me. I took a 9:30pm bus to Cusco and go in around 6:30am on Tuesday morning. What a trip. The 72 hours to Chile is going to be awesome! Our bus crossing Lake Titicaca.
Overall, it was an excellent trip and I look forward to going back some time soon. In the meantime, I am gearing up to finish at Maximo, move into Yamanya hostel, and start working at Excell. I did find out today that they only get one dry erase marker a month. Hmm...that's not going to be too great since they dry out every week and that's with six markers to use. We shall see what happens.
I did manage to make my way to the Witches market before I left for Cusco. There are lots of llama fetuses there. I also found some stuffed frogs. The only things I bought from one of the ladies were some pins that were country flags of all the places I have visited so far. I have Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia pins now.
Jorge and myself