Day 68: Goodbye Peru

Sat. 20th October 2012

Peru has the best logo of the countries we've visited so farIt was always going to be an early start as we were due to be collected from our hotel at 7am for our transfer to La Paz in Bolivia, however, a 5:10 alarm call was beyond the pale. According to Shiry it was supposed to be at 6am, but whatever, it wasn’t what we needed.

We are getting used to the routine of these long distance busses – the bus stations in Peru are extraordinary places by UK standards. There are not a couple but a dozen or more bus operators all plying routes between the major cities and the concourse of the station is filled with ticket offices from these companies. Fortunately, Shiry has our tickets – 20 Sol (£5) for the 7 hour trip from Puno to La Paz! We climb on board settle into our seats and, as usual, I take the opportunity to listen to my podcasts (The Economist, Radio 4 Friday Night Comedy, Kermode & Mayo from 5Live, and Windows Weekly) I am a reasonably consistent 4 weeks behind on all of these, so the bus journeys are a welcome opportunity to catch up.

Crossing the borderAfter a couple of hours driving along the shore of Lake Titicaca, we get to the border crossing. Glamorous, it isn’t! A couple of small buildings on the Peru side to get the relevant stamps on immigration card & passport, then a 200m walk under an arch to the Bolivia side to join another queue in another hut to get our entry stamp. Its all very straightforward except for Deepa who is Malyasian, she is the only one who needs to pay for a visa (don’t know what the Malaysians have done to upset Bolivia).

Moorish influence in Copacobana cathedralIt is then a shortish drive to the city (town) of Copacobana (no, not that one) where we stop for lunch. In between placing our order and being served, we go off to have a look at the cathedral in Copacobana. We later find out that this is important because it contains the most important statue of the Virgin Mary in Bolivia. When we get there, we find several cars parked outside covered in confetti and with the odd firecracker going off – apparently, it is traditional to have your new car blessed. More traditionally, we found a wedding underway with the bride and groom and their families greeting the guests outside the door of the cathedral and getting liberally coated in confetti.

Ferry sophisticated!Our next stop was at Tiquina for the short trip across the bottle neck of Lake Titicaca (apparently, the smaller lake was only flooded a few thousand years ago, and a lost city was discovered by Jacques Cousteau in the ‘70s). Up to now, the smallest ferry I had been on was at Cromarty in the Moray Firth, but now there is a new entry on my list. The very simple floating platform for the bus to drive on and a more conventional small boat for us to cross on. Oh well, it all worked out.

Looking down on La PazAs our guide-book said, we approached La Paz from above through the urban sprawl of El Alto and our first view of the city was from above as we crested the hill and could see the buildings clinging to the side of the hills and spilling away downwards with the snow covered peak of Mt Illimani in the background. La Paz was founded on 20th October 1548 and so there were parades happening as we drove through town to our hotel. Otherwise our first impressions of La Paz are that the traffic is a nightmare – all nose to tail, absolutely no giving way to other drivers, and if in doubt use your horn. No doubt we are going to have an interesting day or two here.

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One Response to Day 68: Goodbye Peru

  1. Loved Peru. Will Bolivia be as good?

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