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Bolivia-Travelogue  |  Travel time: September 2005 - July 2006  |  by marc and nora L.

BOLIVIA: Copacabana - Lake Titicaca

Alright, the last few days were pretty nerve-wracking.

From La Paz we took a bus to Copacabana. NO, we did not go back to Brazil but to Copacabana at Lake Titicaca.

From there we took a boat to Isla del Sol where there was a huge festival - San Antonio. Lots of dancing and singing and all the locals were dressed in interesting traditional (flurescent yellow and orange) costumes.

Everybody (men and women) got wasted - they drank their beer like shots - in a single go! wow! even in the morning they were still drinking! (It is a 4-5 days festival and we arrived on day 3 so you can imagine that the whole air smelt of alcohol!)

We took our big backpacks to Isla del Sol as we planned to stay 1 night. What we did not know was that from the port it is a massive ascent to the village where all the hostels are. With 17kg on our back and another 5kg on the front we climbed up countless steps...of course the sun burnt down like hell and when we arrived we were soaked with sweat!

The island itself is very beautiful and there is NO traffic at all - no cars, just llamas and donkeys. Hence it is very quiet and peaceful (except for the days when we were there when bands were playing their traditional music..)

We did a long walk up the hill and had splendid views over lake titicaca.

Lake Titicaca - the highest lake in the world

Lake Titicaca - the highest lake in the world

Another view of Lake Titicaca

Another view of Lake Titicaca

Copacabana

Copacabana

preparing the boat

preparing the boat

2 bolivian women

2 bolivian women

Copacabana's church

Copacabana's church

the church

the church

The Pier

The Pier

Isla del Sol

Isla del Sol

View from Isla del Sol

View from Isla del Sol

2 pigs and a bolivian farmer lady

2 pigs and a bolivian farmer lady

llama girl with 2 ice creams - one for the llama, one for her!

llama girl with 2 ice creams - one for the llama, one for her!

Bolivian woman having a rest

Bolivian woman having a rest

Fiesta! Bolivian woman with her baby

Fiesta! Bolivian woman with her baby

Donkey and Boliviano ready to party

Donkey and Boliviano ready to party

Sunset over Isla del sol - snowcapped mountains in the background

Sunset over Isla del sol - snowcapped mountains in the background

when we came back to Copacabana the next morning we were meant to take the bus to puno (had an open ticket which we paid for in la paz already)

the woman in the bus office told marc that the bus was full for that day and that we had to wait until tomorrow. She then issued us tickets for the next day. fair enough we thought and checked into a hotel and watched the footy (england vs. trinidad & tobago)

i went to the same agency an hour later and had to watch how the woman from before sold other people tickets for the same bus we wanted to take. so it wasnt full at all! i got really angry and confronted her and she was all embarrassed but denied it of course.

the thing is that those people working for these "travel agencies" get commission from selling tickets and our ticket was already paid for in la paz...so she rather lied to us saying it was full so that she could sell our seats to some other people and earning commission! what a b***!
we couldnt do anything really as we had already checked into the hotel!

Travel tip: so dont get open tickets, rather pay 2 bolivianos more each segment and pay when you go not upfront. [/b]

but that wasnt enough bad luck: we had no money left (4 bolivianos in our pockets which is about 18 pence/25 cents)

Even though Copacabana is a real tourist resort there is surprisingly enough no ATM-machine - you can change Travelers cheques and there is 1 (!!) bank which gives cash advances on visa.

This bank was closed due to some public holiday! great!we had to ask random tourists to lend us money for dinner and to use the internet.

the next morning we hoped to go to the bank to pay for our hotel and repay those tourists but what happened is incredible! At 8.30 am when the bank was supposed to open there was a power cut in the entire town. We were in the hotel and couldnt believe it! of course the bank was closed! We waited 30 minutes, still no electricity, 1hour - nothing, 2 hours...started to panic!

We went to the bank anyway and the guy told us that they will shut and open at 2.30pm if electricity comes back. Our bus to Puno was meant to leave at 1.30pm already and we had no money to pay the hotel - went to all big and nicer hotels to try to get money via cash advance but impossible!

The guys in the hotel got really pissed off - wanted us out at check out time but we couldnt pay....

So we went to the room and packed whilst desperately thinking of an emergency plan (thought of asking Tara and Al to pay our bill when coming to Copacabana in a few weeks...) when all of a sudden - hallellujah - the lights came on..electricity!!!

So we rushed back to the bank which was of course closed and they still didnt want to open till 2.30pm but at the end they luckily changed their mind and we got a cash advance!

What a nightmare! But we made it on time to repay our debts to the tourists that helped us out, pay the hotel and fetch our bus to Puno.

This rather nerve-wracking experience taught us one thing:
From now one we will always have 100 USD with us so that if we cannot get money from ATMs we always have some foreign currency to change. And these 100 USD are safely hidden underneath the sole of my shoe - PSST!

Traveler Tip: So if you travel to Copacabana take enough cash with you as a) the opening times of the only bank are more than unreliable
b) Power cuts are apparently a common occurence in Copacabana

And it is generally a good idea to wrap some USD EMERGENCY CASH in some plastic or cellophane and hide it underneath the sole of your shoe - good in case you are robbed so you are not in the awful situation of not having any money.

© marc and nora L., 2005
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The trip
 
Description:
Hello - 5 more days!!! On the 12th of September we are setting off! Our plan is to travel round the world for a period of 10 months. 1st stop: Thailand (1 month) and cambodia 2nd stop: Via Singapore (overland) to Australia where we plan to stay for approximately 4-5 months. 3rd stop: New Zealand (2 months) (north and south island) 4th stop: South America (approx. 3 months) (Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and if time and money allows we might visit costa rica)
Details:
Start of journey: Sep 12, 2005
Duration: 11 months
End of journey: Jul 31, 2006
Travelled countries: world-wide
United Kingdom
Thailand
Malaysia
Cambodia
Singapore
Australia
Australia & Pacific
New Zealand
South America
Chile
Argentina
Bolivia
Peru
Ecuador
Canada
The Author
 
marc and nora L. is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 14 years.
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