La Paz 26.08.02
La Paz 20.08.02 0 km
La Paz is a charming and nice city, at least seen from the center, where's the slum? It grows up the mountain sides and is only seen from a safe distance.
There's a swarming life day and night? At least in the evening. I've considered a lot on what to do the next 10 days. Tomorrow I bike down to 'zona sur' to look at strange rock formations and things like that. Thursday I'll catch the bus for Cusco in Peru. My bike and most of my luggage will be skipped in Copacabana at the Titicaca lake. And when I return from Macchu Pichu I'll do some biking at the lake and go by bus back to La Paz. The last days I'm on the death route from La Cumbre down to Coroico, it's a tour with service vehicle and all.
Today I walk a little further to eat and end in the main street, where the prices are a bit higher, ot two. If a dish yesterday would cost 26, it's 35 today. It's all right but only the ground is different. I order a of some national kind, one with 'pique' which means it can be spicy. It isn't that bad, but there are some small green bastards you have to be careful with. When I'm almost through this delicious meal I take one of the green bastards or a normal green pepper. Wholy shit! I thought I was rather tough in these matters, but I start sweating on my bald head. It takes at least 5 minutes before I feel better, but luckily I had a good deal of beer left, but now after the meal I still feel my cheeks glow. It was more spicy than the lambs head the other day. Here they play "Frankie Boy" and that kind of stuff, just now it's "Let's twist again" with Chubby Checker.
One is in an international restaurant!?
La Paz 21.08.02 43.96 km
A terrible night. I feel like I haven't slept, it's just been churning around my head how I'm going to get to El Alto with bike and luggage and a cardboard box for the luggage and some cardboard for the bike? As if it isn't a problem that can be solved. It was light when I felt a little relaxed, but I didn't sleep. So the day was meant to go bad from the beginning.
I had decided to go to 'zona sur' by bike Don't I ever get wiser? First I had a problem finding a oneway street going in the right direction. The system should be - and ought to - that every second goes in one direction. But it's not like that here. So I had to drag the bike for a long distance, before I succeeded. To find the right street was really no problem, but how are the streets down south: terrible. When there's asphalt it's bumpy and full of holes so you hardly believe it. When it's cobble stones they are unbelievable or (in the end) worse, and when it's gravel it's just bad. Here comes two more things: the amount of traffic and the space for bicycles. It's just one long que down south and bikes are supposed non-existing. As for this I can only say: I survived!
I knew I would be going down on my way there and up on my way back, but it wasn't as simple as that. I had imagined that when I'd gone a certain distance, I'd come into more quiet surroundings and beatiful rock formations. But I never got that far. It was town all the way to Valle de Animas, which I was heading at. Almost all the way to the gorge which I from a distance took to be too steep to carrying the bike. And I dared not leave it. So I went back towards la Luna and could hardly believe, I'd fought the last couple of kilometers. It was better going towards Valle de la Luna, a pretty good road and not so much traffic. Actually I saw the only two bolivian racing bikers. This speaks for a reasonable road.
Had the next not happened the day would have been exhausting but half a success. But I feel destiny chasing me. Just as I was going to take a picture of the mystic rocks I lost my camera. It's happend before without any damage, but this time it was open, it fell right on the "stomach", hit a rock and stopped functioning. The lens had a fracture and the mechanism rolling the objective forward and backwards was damageed. What is there to say? It could have happened a month ago, which had been worse. Anyway it ruined my day completely. The disappointment that I could be that clumsy was all that filled me. Now I've taken care of this small instrument for so long. Only opened it when I was going to take a picture and always closed it again IMMIDIATELY to put it back in its holster. Eev, eev and three times eev.
But maybe it can be repaired? I've found a place. A new lens is 20$. I don't know about the rest. In Denmark the conclusion would probably be that it wasn't worth the effort, but maybe here? I'm excited to hear if he's got it functioning when I return. He sounded like that. I was totally worn out when I returned to the hostel. Considered seriously if I could cancel the trip tomorrow and get an earlier plane back home. And on top of it it's an even worse trip back going up all the way.
I'm so tired I feel nausea. I go out to eat even though thinking I need the food believing that my appetite will return. I fight through 2/3 of the meal, but has to resign. It's not like me.
La Paz 22.08.02
But I sleep like a log through the night. I needed to I guess. The bus arrives only one hour late, will this tour be without difficulties? For the first time?
It's a new experience to watch Bolivia from a bus. That can be recommended in stead of a bike. We cross a plain while some smaller brown mountains of a type I haven't seen before, pass to the right, and within long we have all the impressing snowcapped range in the background, summits of around 6000 m. You don't feel the smell from the cars, nor the stink from the trash, rotten water and shit. And you don't feel the head wind. The road is asphalt, to put it short it's a pleasure. You don't have to concentrate on anything you don't want to, can even sleep if you dare miss the scenery.
Now some smaller green mountains occur in the foreground. Immidiately after we have the Titicaca lake on our left. The closest low watered 100 m is covered with vegetation of rush. On the green mountains grow trees a nice change from the bare slopes and plains. We have to cross the mountain to get to the ferry. The lake is divided in a northern (big) part and a southern (smaller) part by a narrow strait. Here we all have to get out because the bus is going to cross on a barge and the passengers (us) are going to cross with motor boats, that can take up to 25 passengers. The engine smoke all along the boat so I won't get totally cured.
After this pleasant interruption we have to climb the mountains again to get to Copacabana. It's a terrific ride up to 4130 m with changing views of the big and the small lake. A short photo stop (sigh!) with view over Copacabana and the lake that disappears in the horizon. And then down again to 3765 m.
Here's the lunch break. It's a tourist town. It's seen partly from the number of restaurants and partly from their nicer looks and the service. All the busses have lunch break here so it's crowded with backpackers and normal tourists. The bus won't get to Cusco until 4 in the morning, I believed it would be 7 in the evening. It's gonna be a hell of a ride.
I'm in Peru. How is it? It seems more crowded, more sheep, cows, terrasses on the slopes and the houses seem generally finished. Some are plastered and a number even painted. We have passed two towns with big arenas for sports and other cultural events. All in all it seems more organized.
The bus ride itself is a bit special. I bought a ticket each direction La-Paz-Cusco at the tourist office. We go by one bus (bolivian) to Copacabana. Then we change to a peruvian one and have a new ticket for Puno.
In Puno there's dinner break and change to a new bus from another company with a new ticket. This last bus is a modern double decker, that's a nice surprise. When the bus boss hears I want to go to Macchu Pichu he offers to arrange it all, because it has to be ordered several days ahead, but he can solve it. It sounds OK but... In Puno I have to take a taxi to his office and I'm given a brochure with the name of a hostal.
I don't know what to think of it, but find a rickshaw, of which there are plenty here. When he mention a prize of 120$ I think I heard him wrong. I paid 180 BOB for a return ticket to Cusco. And that was including ticket back to La Paz, so as I've got that already it's only 100$. I'm still infidel. He says that the entrance fee for Macchu Pichu alone is 20$ and the prize includes that someone picks me up 4 in the morning in Cusco, takes me to a hotel where I can rest a while before the train leaves 6.15 a.m. for Aguas Caliente, from where a bus goes the rest of the way and guide and trainticket. He admits it's extremely expensive, but that's how it is.
I end up paying and thinking I might have been cheated. Some englishmen at the bus terminal think it might be a little more expensive than if you buy the tickets yourself, but now I don't have to hurry around Cusco, and to be honest, if I can pay others to do that I'll gladly do it. But we'll see... as many times before.
I sleep a bit in the bus and we arrive at Cucso at 3.30 a.m. There's noone to pick me up, but I wasn't supposed to land until 4 so I have ½ hour of excited wating. From 4 it turns into a more panic waiting but 5 minutes past a young man arrive, he's mr. Eber. We go by taxi to a hostal. Some of the alleys are only just wide enough for a car. I get a room with shower and the possibility of sleeping for an hour.