Peruuuuusing into Peru!
06.04.2015 - 23.04.2015 25 °C
We have been a little "off the ball" the past 2 weeks so we are sorry that we haven't been as regular as normal on the blog! After leaving the AMAZING jungle we flew back to La Paz, Bolivia.
La paz sucked ass, as per normal. Our third time in the smelly, dirty and cold mountain town. We shopped a little, then quickly got the bus to Copacabana (Bolivian, not the famous Brazilian Copacabana) on the edge of lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world!
That night in Copacabana I got unwell again and was awake throughout most of the night, burning with a fever. Weirdly again as in Rurrenabaque, I was fine in the morning, just a little weak. By this time the food was getting to both us and we were sick and tired, of being sick and tired!
We planned to take an overnight trip to Titicaca's Isla del Sol (Island of the sun) although it was cloudy and cold on the way over (haha). Once we got to the island the port town was miserable and accommodation there really was below basic. So we decided to hike over an ancient trail left by the Incas to the south of the island, one that supposedly took 3 hours. Now, there's two reasons as to why we shouldn't have done this hike. Firstly, I was weak and had hardly eaten much that day except half a sandwich and some fruit. Also, as it was cold, when the sun did come out we hadn't applied any sun cream so by the end of the hike we were exhausted, bright red faced and I was straight on the toilet.
The views were pretty great though, and it was interesting to walk the trail, but honestly, they charged us 3 times for taxes and other stuff and gave us no information whatsoever about the ruins along the way, nor indeed the trail itself. We found accomadation on the south of the island, but for 30kr (3 pounds) a night, we couldnt whinge about the freezing cold room! The next day we got up early and headed back to Copacbana on the first boat. A lot of people had said Lake Titicaca was the highlight of their Bolivian trip. Perhaps it would have been nicer if it was warmer and we were more prepared for it. At this stage, we'd had to return to a Hotel we'd stayed at before we left for the island to pick up our big backpacks and get our laundry back. After having exceptionally rude service and facilities (our washing was not clean, nor did it smell very nice), we were well and truly depleted of energy, enthusiasm and headed to the port for some breakfast. As we sat down a Canadian couple were arguing with the staff there claiming that the bread was not fit to serve a dog. So of course we made a run for it and scoured the town for a nice, decent place (it was also raining at this point, fuelling our frustration and anger). We made it to this bohemian style place which the guy outside claimed to have good wifi - which we were desperatley in need of at this stage. The breakfast there was fantastic and the wifi WAS decent, so we stayed there well into the afternoon until our bus left to head to Peru!
It was recommended to stop in the first peruvian town of Puno, to visit the floating islands, but we read that it was a bit of a tourist trap and we weren't really in the mood at this stage so we decided to skip it and head straight to Arequipa, one of Peru's most beautiful cities.
Bolivia was a fantastic country, where we have made so many great memories. However, MAN WERE WE READY TO LEAVE! 4 weeks of dodgy stomachs and eating out in dodgy places eventually grated on our nerves and we both needed some fresh fruit and vitamins! I didn't think it was possible to crave vitamins so much...
So as we sat on the bus on the way to Arequipa, we were confident that things would perk up a bit! Were we right? No of course we weren't right. Things went from bad to worse. Early on in the bus ride, and we won't go into too many details on this one, but our bus hit a donkey. The drivers don't slow down for anything here, and we're pretty sure the poor animal did not survive. Unfortunately we only stopped for about a minute or two before the driver drove off as if nothing ever happened. So that was depressing. Then, we had to deal with a baby, who seemed to manage to scream it's lungs off for the rest of 8 hour journey. Once we finally arrived in Arequipa at 1.30am our bags had been sitting in water in the bus baggage hold so they were soaked through. Does it get any better? Nope. We finally make it to our hostel which we had booked a room for the night. We were so happy to be there and they told us that they had double booked and had no beds left in the hostel. At 2.30am, this was the final straw for me as I shoved my confirmation email in their face. So after a lot of calls to her boss, the receptionist told us we'd get the night for free, and that we could sleep in the movie room. We pushed two sofas together and finally tucked ourselves into what had become a private double bed and we were just about to go to sleep, when a dog started barking outside followed by cats fighting.
What a day. And night.
Now we would have been a lot more pissed off and angry at our situation, if it hadn't been for a few things. First of all, the breakfast was awesome. Very tasty bread with bananas. Might not seem much to the common european person, but to us, this food was like staying in a 5 star hotel! Also, the hostel was great - it had fuseball, pool, ping pong, a play station, 2 movie rooms and a hammock in every nook and cranny outside. But best of all.....IT HAD A KITCHEN!! The first thing we did that day was head straight to the supermarket and bought about a weeks worth of shopping haha. People at the hostel looked at us in horror as we arrived back with all our bags. Fair enough, we went a bit crazy, but we weren't planning to eat out for a loooong time haha. At that point we hadn't showered for almost a week due to cold water in La Paz and no showers on the Isla del Sol so it was amazing to have warm showers that didn't just dribble cold water on you.
We were finaly in heaven.
I made a bolognese sauce (I even chopped the tomatoes myself - sooo good) and we ate dinner whilst watching Mr and Mrs Smith, curled up in the movie room. We literally spent the next three days pretty much sitting on our asses, watching movies, playing pool/table tennis and chatting with other travellers. We didn't leave the hostel once. Also, as a bonus it was perfectly warm there in Arequipa, a nice change from the high altitude, cold cities in Bolivia.
After our 3 day binge on food and movies we ventured out to see a few sights Arequipa had to offer. I went off on a 2 day trip with two guys I had met there to Colca Canyon which included 7 hours of hiking down hill and 3 hours of walking pretty much up vertical for 1.5km. It was full of beautiful scenery and intersting flora. Meanwhile, Kathrin made some australian friends and had a night in with them at the hostel. When I arrived home the next day she seemed like she'd had a good night hehe. She also ran into a girl we'd met in San Pedro, roughly 1 month back which was random and nice!
Arequipa was rejuvenating and we prepared ourselves for our peruvian adventure. It began with a trip to Huacachina, a desert oasis with huge sand dunes as high as small mountains. Travellers pretty much arrive there, stay 1 night, do the activity and leave again. The activity is dune buggying and sand boarding which was really cool. First we zoomed off into mounatins of sand getting flung around and driving down steep hills of sand. We then got our boards and, lying down, zoomed down huge dunes of sand which would take you about 15 seconds to reach the bottom, going quite fast. Was a short, adrenaline filled evening! We then moved on and headed up the coast northwards towards the beach resort, Cerro Azul.
On the bus there, disaster unfortunately struck. A woman approached me on the bus and told me water was on the floor underneath my feet (where my small backpack was safely stored). She picked it up out of the water and put it in the compartment above my head and I, being the stupid oblivious person that I am, thanked her and focused on the water around my feet. 5 minutes later we pulled into a bus station and of course a woman pointed at me and shouting at where my bag was. I stood up and my bag was gone. The woman told me a girl had just run off with it and I immediatly knew who it was, that I had been played and that I would never see my backpack again. What made it worse was that I had everything in my backpack. Yes, I know, seperate your money, put things in different places in your various bags, but the crappy reality of it is this; after almost 3 months of travelling, you naturally become relaxed when on buses and you tend to think less about security. It's difficult to describe but it's just impossible to be 100% vigilant 100% of the time. I had been so careful. We have heard all the stories from other travellers. But as soon as you let your guard down for a second they are there, ready to pounce. After getting a police report from the local authorities we decided to skip the beach and head straight to the peruvian capital - Lima. As we sat on the bus in silence to Lima, I remembered something Paddy Austin (family friend) said to me before we left. It was pretty much the last thing he said to me actually - "Tom, you will get robbed in south america. The sooner you accept that fact, the easier it will be when it happens". One might think that as being harsh, but to be honest, I felt prepared. Yes of course I was angry, but I was never going to see the bag again nor it's contents, so there's no point in worrying about it. Just get everything fixed and move on.
Kathrin, the amazingly resourceful person she is, managed to get us a room for 2 nights in an apartment in a hotel for 100kr (10 pounds) a night, instead of 800kr (80 pounds). I don't know how she does it, but I like it! While I was a useless mess, drowning in my own sorrows and feeling sorry for myself, she cancelled my bank cards AND got me an appointment the next day at 8am at the British Embassy, Lima. She was my knight in shining armour haha. All of this eased my pain ten-fold! Most of the things in the bag are, at a hefty cost, replaceable. However, 2 months of video camera footage is not, and neither were the numerous souvenirs I stupidly had in there from various countries. Even the amazing leather bag itself was a souvenir! Anyway, I am not going to drag it out. Iv'e mourned already. Yes it was crap, but life throws these things at you - one has to deal with it and move on. We are still safe, together, and have all our limbs!
So the past 6 days have been filled with waiting in lines, paying a lot of money to get passports sorted, visas and immigration cards back. We have a joint bank account which has been really handy becasue I can use Kathrin's card but I still have access to all my money. And my phone! I still have my phone, and my sunglasses haha. Apart from getting my life back, we just spent our time at the local cat park where loads of random cats spend their days lying in the grass surrounded by tourists and locals. Tomorrow we leave Lima behind and hopefully we can comfortably and safely move on to begin enjoying our travels again.
We are planning to cross through the Peruvian Andes and slowly make our way to Cusco, one of the most well known places in South America and the base for our 4 day hike to Machu Picchu, the most famous Inca site in the world!