Friday, August 26, 2011

Leaving Peru for Bolivia around the shores of lake Titicaca

After a crazy 2 days to Machu Picchu, it was time to take a break, get some laundry done and Urubamba, was that perfect place. A small quite town that had all the amenities we needed, plus a few cheap and good restaurants. Urubamba, has one main street, 2 small squares but what attracts the small number of tourist is the surrounding Inca ruins. We didn't check out any of the ruins because we're too busy catching up on rest and pretty much doing nothing else. After 3 days of rest we got ready to head south to the city of Puno, situated on the Lake Titicaca the highest lake in the world. It was another long and stressful drive because we had to drive at night again to reach Puno. Just before in the city of Juliaca we pulled over to ask the police on the street for directions he was very unhelpful telling us we can't take the road ahead because its closed and didn't offer any more directions. Down the street we asked a local and he explained how to get out on the road for Puno. Now in Peru the traffic police are always at intersections directing traffic but their signals never match the lights and it confuses the hell out of me. (thats the point i guess) because I passed through a intersection with a green light and didn't see the police directing traffic to stop, so another cop pulled me over. Here we go again, I guess its my fault I didn't see the police officer in black, at night on the unlit street corner. The police flashes a hand book and said I would have to pay $700 sols thats like $300 usd. he asked for my license and told me I would have to pay on Monday because it was Saturday, plus Sundays are closed. I told him "give the ticket and I would pay when I return" he wouldn't give my license back, so I told him thats property of my government and only I have the right to hold it and he handed it back and told me again I had to pay the fine. 15 minutes of back and forth, he told me people usually just pay directly to him but this time he was going to let us off with a warning.

We finally arrive in Puno, at about 10pm and Saturday night traffic was crazy with the night market full and and dumb cops making traffic more problems. After driving around the city 2 or 3 times we finally got pulled over by a police, for what I still don't know to this day but I started speaking english and mention to us he knows how we felt and told us to leave but I am still asking the guy for directions and he walks away. So much for police help in this town. After some hard searching we found a hotel and parked at a secure lot 2 blocks away, there was no hotel in town with parking.

the view from Peru side

that way to Bolivia row on

locals sending us off with a song

largest island had a school and hostel
Now our main reason to come to Puno, was to visit the floating Islands on lake Titicaca, but after that night it was to leave Peru and the police harassment behind us. We still visited the the Uros floatingIslands which has about 3 to 4 families living on each island. They greeted us with a tour and explained how they keep their homes afloat. After they set on a hand made straw boat that fits about 20 people to the main island to do some handcraft shopping and back on the boat to Puno, overall the hole thing took about 4 hours at about $15 per person.

Next day it was good riddance to Peru and welcome Bolivia, strange thing was even at the boarder, the Peru police was trying to shake us down. He was a police is normal clothes asking us to show him all our documents and out of the blue asked for our yellow fever card (we are leaving Peru why would you ask for that now?) lucky we had it and he lowered the chain for us to start the real process of exiting Peru. After that it was quick and entering Bolivia was fast, easy and straight forward. Our first town in Bolivia will be Copacabana also the shores of lake Titicaca. The lake was noticeably cleaner on this side and the town was much smaller than Puno and felt more welcoming to us. We spent 2 days exploring the town and hiking while  getting stunning views of the lake Next is La Paz the highest governing city in the world.

view from Bolivia side much cleaner

hard climb straight up
worth the views