South America on a shoestring

Travel time: June - December 2004  |  by Rob W.

Illegal alien... Puno and Copacabana

Puno & Copacabana (2), July 16th - 19th

The bus back to Puno was painless and familiar as I´d already been along this route twice before! We all checked into a hostel and headed out for a few drinks. Puno is at some serious altitude and I blame this for the fact that everyone got wrecked really easily and a certain member of the group is rumoured to have indulged in homosexual behaviour with a tranny! I wasn´t there to witness it but I´m willing to believe it for the pure comedy value.

The next day after deciding that Puno has little to offer the discerning tourist we thought we´d see the floating islands as quickly as possible and then head straight off to Copacabana to try and catch the first Copa America quarter final there. The floating islands are just about worth a quick look for their novelty value but are really just a tourist trap. It also felt a bit like a zoo to me as we traipsed around their tiny islands staring at the locals while they sat there. Weird all round. Back on dry land we got on a local bus to the border and I was off back to Bolivia. I should mention that Ryan and Shamrock stayed in Puno to have a reunion with the Peruvian lovelies they´d stolen the hearts of in Arequipa. You couldn´t make it up!

Arriving in Copacabana (again!) we set out to find a bar with the football. However we soon discovered that this part of Bolivia doesn´t have cable, so there would be no football that night. I asked a bloke where the nearest town we could watch the match was, and he said it was back in Peru.... now, we could handle not seeing the match that day, but the next day was the Brazil quarter final and as part of the unofficial travelling Brazilian supporters group there was no way we could miss it. So we started to toy with the idea of going back to Peru the next day for the match and crossing back to Bolivia to go to bed. While it started out as a bit of a joke, circumstances would soon dictate that we had no choice.... by Bolivian law no alcohol can be sold within 24 hours of a referendum and as such the country was going dry that evening! No beer and no football? No way! And so after a relaxing day in which it was too windy to go out to Isla del Sol, we began to investigate how to get back to the Peruvian border town for the Brazil match that night. The locals said we were mad as the border would be closed and certain weaker members of the group gave up on the idea (mentioning no names Ski), but bolstered by a few beers Squid and I found a willing taxi driver to take us to the border. I told a little white lie to him that there would be 5 of us in the taxi, but we ended up as a group of 7. He didn´t seem too worried though and we were soon back at the frontier. It was in darkness, and thus closed. However not the kind of people to be put off by international boundaries we snuck across into Peru, accompanied by our taxi driver who also fancied watching the game. The nearest town turned out to be a bit of a trek away and as the border was shut there were no taxis around. It was a beautiful night so I didn´t mind the walk (not least because I had my beer shoes on) until the driver told me that the locals had a history of human sacrifice which had restarted recently. I didn´t know if he was just trying to shit me up but decided not to worry as I was drunk... a couple of the lads looked fucking terrified though which made me tempted to make up some horrific lies about decapitations along the road, but I resisted. We finally got there and found a bar, but I don´t remember anything about the game. Brazil must have won because they were in the next round the following week, but the night was a big old blur. I do vaguely remember sitting in the boot of a car heading back towards the border and thinking it was a bit odd... Presumably we snuck back across the closed border because I woke up the next day in my hostel bed back in Bolivia! A night out to tell the grandkids about, except I don´t have any.

The next day it was time to head on to La Paz as my flight to Buenos Aires was looming, so rather than go with Mango Capac (the ones that left Paul stranded) we got a mini bus designed for dwarves and were in the city within 4 hours. We booked into Hotel Torino which was prison-esque and I resisted going for a night out, knowing I would have to get up at 4am to get to the airport. It was sad to leave the group after such a long time, especially as Nottingham is not massively near to Sydney and I wasn´t sure I would see them again. Nonetheless, it´d been a great 3 weeks and I´d survived with a minimum of anti-British banter from my ex-convict companions. At El Alto airport the check in desk next to mine was American Airlines daily flight to Miami. I felt a twinge of jealousy at the people going home in the next queue as I knew I had another 5 months to go, but at the same time I was excited to be heading on to Buenos Aires which has become something of a holy grail for backpackers since the economic collapse as it is like being in a European city with South American prices.

Puno/ Copacabana (2) -The good

  • The night as illegal aliens - a great story

  • Our favourite restaurant in Copacabana...I forget the name but the yellow one on the main street!

  • Beautiful views of the lake

  • The taxi driver - legend

The bad

  • The altitude - it´s noticeable in these towns

  • Puno is unbelievably ugly!

  • (I´d already been to these places!!!)

© Rob W., 2004
You are here : Overview The Americas Bolivia Illegal alien... Puno and Copacabana
The trip
Backpacking in South America then 5 months at uni in Brazil, despite the fact I don't yet speak Portuguese. Bum.
Start of journey: Jun 12, 2004
Duration: 6 months
End of journey: Dec 24, 2004
Travelled countries: Peru
The Author
Rob W. is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 17 years.