Thursday, 26 May 2011

The way back to Bolivia

After having spent 5 really great days in Peru, it was time to make my way back to Bolivia and visit La Paz & Potosi that I had intentionaly bypassed during the first time.
I don't know why, but I had the "brilliant" idea to stop at Puno, a town by the lake Titicaca, offering some "really" nice boat excursions to a couple of islands at the lake. To be honest, the views were nice and also being in front of a lake, 165km long, at 3.809m altitude is a strange feeling altogether. It's like a sea in the mountains. Other than that, nada !! Uros & Taquile islands were such a disappointment, I don't even feel like writing about it. If you ever get there, do yourself a favor, save the day and head straight to the other side of the lake and Copacabana in Bolivia.

another night bus :) arrived at Puno at 5.00am

I spent no more than 1 night in Puno and the next morning I headed to the bus station to get on the first bus to La Paz...only that there was a not so pleasant surprise waiting for me and many other travelers.

There was a blockade on the road to Bolivia and there was absolutely no way of any bus or private car to get through. From what we learned later, the locals were protesting against the opening of a mine, close to the lake, that would potentially pollute the area and the waters of the lake specifically. Didn't learn more details, but sounds like a fair cause to me.
Well, that was kind of unexpected. The bus terminal was full of people trying to figure out alternatives to get to La Paz. Some would go to Lima and then fly, others would go down south to Chile and cross from San Pedro de Atacama...all kind of crazy, expensive and super lengthy plans. For one thing I was sure about...I wouldn't stay at Puno for another day :)
After talking with the bus company, they reckoned that the blockade might go on for weeks since the locals don't show any signs to negotiate with the government. After 1h or so, no realistic plan was presented from their, I decided with 3 other Brazillians to get as far as we any possible way. Besides, it would be better to be as close to our destination as possible :))
We jumped into a taxi, the 4 of us, and asked him to take us as close to the blockade as he could. We did quite ok and managed to get some 80km towards the border. And that's where he left us...just 40km from our destination. the middle of nowhere

And so, we started walking with all our luggage, at 3.800m altitude and under a ruthless sun.

no problem to walk through, but no vehicle was allowed to pass :(

how to fit 7 people with their luggage in a car.....
a nice guy already having two persons in the car gave us a lift between two blockade points, 2-3km less walking

We found a tri-cycle and carried our luggage for another kilometer or so...

That's Alex's magic backpack....looks small, but weights over 30kg

time for a break

apparently, few others had the same idea like us, but they were not going to the border

for a small tip, some local boys gave us a ride for another 2-3km....that was scary though!!!

we reached the Police station at Juli and the officer gave us also a lift close to the next blockade point
we must have looked so desperate and exhausted :))

no vehicle gets through....they were friendly with us though

we are almost there....tough negotiations with the road devils for the last ride to the border :))

does this qualify as a self-portrait?? 

with Camila, Felipe & Felipe....after 11 insane hours, we made it to Bolivia.....ole!!!

Spent the night in Copacabana and next morning, to La Paz. I had planned to stay for a day in Copacabana and visit the Isla del Sol, but with all the delays, I have to move on....

Next, La Paz....this time for real :))