Mike's photo adventure weblog

Mike's photo adventure weblog: September 2006

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Peru/Bolivia final update

I am now back in Vancouver, comfortably seated in my 3rd floor townhouse bedroom on the UBC campus. The final leg of our South America trip featured a deathride to the Amazon where we did a 5 day tour of the jungle and grasslands. There we met a genuinely interesting and fun pair of Brits with whom we traveled the remainder of our trip. James and Will are their names, from Bath.

During the jungle trip I had the opportunity to piranha fish (they are vicious), pet wild alligators on the head, play with anacondas and tarantulas, and watch as James and Will went swimming with dolphins and within a few meters of alligators. We then returned to La Paz by air and discovered possibly the greatest restaurants of all time - Brosso and Dumbo, where their cartoon-like atmosphere is only beat by the phenomenally tasty and unbelievably low priced food - where we ate like kings for pocket change. We also couldn't resist going to the cinema to watch Samuel L Jackson's 'Snakes on a Plane'. This movie tried very hard to be bad, and succeeded - and listening to James the film guy critique the movie was well worth the $4 price. (Accurate review here.)

We then traveled to Lake Titicaca to visit Isla del Sol, the birthplace of the first Inca leader and the place where the Inca God Viracocha first appeared. Here we had quite an adventure trying to find our own way back to Copacabana - hiring a private boat, then looking for a bus that didn't exist, interrupting a Bolivian domestic dispute to ask for directions from a man who spoke no English, being told at least five times to walk 30 minutes to the next town for a bus, haggling with a row-boat owner for a ride and leaving him sulking in the street after he wouldn't budge $0.75 on the price. The adventure was almost over at the crest of a hill after hiking 10km with all our gear but no food, where we found three dozen well-natured locals on their way to market. We were the butt of many hilarious comments by one woman who had the locals in stitches - but all of us deeply confused due to our lack of Spanish. When the mini-bus arrived it quickly filled with locals, so arriba it was and we sat on the roof with the luggage for the terrifying 15 minute ride along a dirt road perched on the side of a very steep hill.

From Copacabana we traveled around Lake Titicaca and up to Cusco where we saw many local ruins, ate at fancy restaurants (but not expensive restaurants, because such a concept doesn't exist in Peru), were dragged to various bars by the 'promoters' that most bars employ; then promptly given innumerable free drinks at each bar before leaving, explored the extensive black market for DVDs and CDs, and of course visited Machu Picchu and the nearby Aquas Calientas.

After a week relaxing in Cusco we flew to Lima and spent a day in the airport. Fortunately I found a nearby restaurant to walk to and spend my remaining Peruvian currency - I can't stand airport prices. Getting rid of our currency was helped by the Peruvian government; they charge a USD$30 departure tax! After Lima we hit Houston for a quick stop before the flight to Seattle, upon which I was upgraded (and by this I mean asked by a husband to change seats so he could be with his wife) to First Class where I enjoyed fine dining, ample leg room, comfortable chairs, and majestic service. In Seattle we missed the shuttle to Vancouver by seconds and spent more time in an airport as we waited 2 hours for another shuttle. The final leg of our journey was an agonizing two hour drive to Vancouver that instead took five hours because of all the frequent stops. Then I rushed to campus to move into residence and catch up on my first day of classes, which I missed.

I have compiled a list of the funny stories from the trip, only one of which is given here, so feel free to ask me for a story whenever you see me. The final Peru/Bolivia photo set is up with my favourite photos from the trip. Click the thumbnail above for the set.