Tuesday, July 30, 2013

6 days in Puno, a day in Copacabana and now in La Paz

July 23rd 2013 Tuesday
Woke up in Puno, Peru at Brisas Del Lago Hotel.  There are a lot of tourists because there are so many attractions, but the main attraction is the floating islands of lake Titiqaqa.  So I had signed up for the four hour tour for $7.00 leaving at 9am.  The tour guide met me in front of the hotel and we rode in a nice bus down to the docks where 12 or so other foreigners joined us.  The boat was nice, fully inclosed and the guide talked for 20 minutes then we could climb up to the roof of the boat.  These islands are very interesting, because they make them by hand with reeds and it takes about a year to build one island.  Lake Titikaka is 280 meters deep and 165 km by 60km.  But where the islands are located is about 20 feet deep.  Aymara is the islanders language and is one of three official languages in peru...spanish, quechua, aymara, and there are 48 dialects in Peru. Casimaraki - hello and Waliki- hello in response,  is what you have to say upon greeting the family on your island. There are 72 man made islands for a total of 1,500 people. Each island is one family.  Baza de totoa is what the boats are called that are made out of the same reeds the islands are made of.  Also they use the reeds to eat and to cook with.  The base of the island is a dried out root system and then they lay several layers of reed on top in a criss cross until it gets 6 feet thick, 4 feet below water and two above.  Then it is achored in 8 locations.  Very nice to walk on.  Juan was the president of the entire area and we just happened to be taken to his island.  He was hillarious, and spoke 7 languages, he took us into his house to sit and talk and see his baby that was wrapped in blankets lying on the bed.  It was truly a unique experience.  His wife Marta was just as nice, and so were their parents.  They had several kids, but they were on another island at school.  We then got into the boza de toa and were paddled to the town square where we could buy lunch, coffee or pastries and mingle with other tourists.  I met 3 people from LA and a couple from Ireland.  Juan wanted to know why I had chin hair..I told him it was to keep me warm on the motorcycle.  It was a great experience and the best $7.00 I have spent in Peru.
July 24th, 2013 Wednesday
Third day in Puno.  Trying to make plans to enter Bolivia.  They are strict on Americans more than any other Foreigner entering the country.  They charge a reciprocal fee for entering which is $135.00, by far the most I have ever spent to enter a country.  They also make you buy a 4cm by 4cm foto with a red background.  And you have to have a hotel reservation and proof of finances.  Took care of all these things.
July 25th, 2013 Thursday
4th day in Puno.  Took care of more business.  Preparing for an Amazon tour in Bolivia.  I have become addicted to the chile rellenos and chicken tamales or empanadas.  I buy them every day day for 1 sol from the ladies near the Plaza de Armas, so for 3 sols I can fill up ($1.00)  There is some serious price variances in the tourist streets, where you have to spend 30 sols easily on a meal not quite as good as my chile rellenos and tamales.
July 26th, 2013 Friday
5th day in Puno.  Packing to cross the border.  There is a restriction on gas in Bolivia.  You can't buy gas at the subsidized price if your vehicle has a foreign plates so you pay $7.00 a gallon instead of $1.75.  So I filled up in Peru.  If you see a big yellow gas can on the side of the road you can stop and get it from the pitcher and funnel method from the guy, usually it's their house and the gas is in a can in the back yard.
Juy 27th, 2013 Saturday
6th day in Puno woke up and left at 10:30 crossed border into Bolivia and drove to Copacabana.  6days in Puno is waaay too long.  The border was so easy and really they just wanted the $135.00 they told me to keep the foto and didn't ask for the reservations or financial proof.  They just made me get a copy of the document I had made back in Costa Rica.  It's the third time that document has worked in my favor.  I made really good friends with one of the Nacional Policeman Vladimir Flores who offered to let me keep the bike at his house if I choose to fly to the Jungle instead of ride.   Spent the day in beautiful Copacabana on the lake...walked around town, visited the church.  Had dinner.  The locals are gearing up for a Sunday celebration where they decorate the vehicles to be blessed by the Padre and they sling water on them as they drive by the Cathedral.  They take this very seriously and spend lots of money on the decorations. 
July 28th, 2013 Sunday
Woke up in Copacabana and rode to LaPaz 3 hours away.  Took ferry in Ecofuturo, Bolivia to get to the otherside.  There were two kids running this ferry about 15 and 16 years old.  There were about 12-15 ferrys and they all looked the same but it was kinda rustic to say the least.  It took about 15 minutes and when I got to the otherside I had the best fried trout and minnows, hominy, and new potatos I think I have ever had.  Shared with the dogs in the town square.  Watched the people, unload from the ferrys as I enjoyed my lunch.  Then took off for La Paz.  But just as I left the ferry I went through a small town and there was a huge party in the street.  It was pretty obvious there was alcohol involved you could smell beer and they were dancing in the street and I had to steer in and out of them they didn't even move and these were Quechua people, they are always so serious, and straight.  They were all dressed up and celebrating something.  I could really smell alcohol and I am pretty sure a lated urinated in the middle of the road as I went by. Then it was back to normal, a very nice ride along the cliffs of the lake with the peaks of the snow covered mountains in the background.  Then La Paz.  Wow what an enormous city.  I could spend a year here and not see it all.  Very nice area where I am staying.  Several burger kings, subway, artesans, anything and everything you want times ten.
July 29th, 2013 Monday
Second day in La Paz.  Hunting supplies for my jungle experience.  Mosquito net, raincoat, rope, hammock, machete, new back tire for the moto, spare tube, wrenches, two 1 gallon gas cans, etc...  I will be taking "death road" 450 km to Rurrenabaque, Bolivia and I need to be prepared for anything.  No gas and the ruts in the road can be impassible.  Luckily there has been no rain.  If it rains I will have a HUGE problem.  Most likely won't make it in one day.
Woke up today and started working on finding more stuff for the Amazon trip.    I bought a new chain for the motorcycle $20.00 and tried to have two sprockets replaced but once they got it all taken apart they realized it was the wrong parts and I wasn't about to wait for them to put it back together then drive across town again up the crazy steep hills, so I told them just replace the chain.  While they replaced it I had a great lunch upstairs at a family run restaurant for 12 bobs or $1.75. They charged me $13.00 labor  or 80 bolivian bolivianos, then I found a mud tire for the back of the moto $36.00 or 250 bolivianos then $2.00 to put it on.  Replaced the tube also.  I went to get a drink while I waited for the tire guy to finish and as I was coming back a taxi turned hard and going fast and hit me but I put my hand on the car with a thud and kinda spun away.  He just kept going.  Then the guy finished the tire but I noticed a bolt that had lost the nut and almost worked it's way out and it is one that holds the engine to the frame, so I had to go back to the shop buy a washer and nut and borrow a wrench to tighten it.  I rode around and took photos.  I think one more day here then off to the jungle.  I am currently 115 miles as the crow flies from Chile and I think this is as close as I will get on this trip anyway.  After some research I decided there are other endeavors that I will pursue.   I like La Paz, but I am not sure if La Paz likes me, but I am making the best of it.  There are some really nice people here and some not so nice.  Tons of Americans and tourists from all over the world.  I am specifically avoid the "bash and crash" hostals which there seem to be a lot of here.   Had a couple drunk guys follow me around, harmless though not sure what they wanted, to beg or steal?  Lots of very old Quechua indian  ladies begging..hundreds.  So I like to take a pocket full of bobs then drop them in their little gray hats one bob (.14 cents) at a time.  I am ready for the road again.

My hotel in Puno, Peru

The area near the docks in Puno, Peru.

The inside of the boat that took us to the floating islands.

 The guide giving us info and instructions on the boat.

These people were collecting entrance fees. 

Another boat paying the entrance fee. 

 Approaching the island where Juan and Marta live.  (their personal island.) 

 Stove on the floating island.

Juan and Joe doing the presentation on how the island is built. 

 Juan and Martas mother or mother in law

Small fish that they catch and eat regularly. 

Our guide explaining in English and Spanish. 

Our group getting ready to row to town.

The family singing row row row your boat gently down the stream in English..

Juan made us laugh the entire trip.

Joe paddling the baza de totoa 

 Another view of the floating town square.

 Town square in the floating islands. 

 Another view of town square on the floating islands of lake Titikaka in Puno, Peru.

Gathering reed in the marsh. 

 Heading back to Puno docks. 

The line at the border to Peru, there was a German couple in front of me and you can see their jeep behind my moto in the background.  For some reason the Aduana moved us to the front of the line ahead of everyone else.

This is the lobby to my hotel in Copacabana, Bolivia where I stayed for $7.00 a night with breakfast included, hot water, and wifi.

 The beach in Copacabana, Bolivia. 

 Some of the food vendors along the beach in Copacabana. While I was taking this a transformer exploded and the line broke and almost landed on a lady under it.

I was walking in the mercado snapping photos with the ipad just to get  candid photos of the town and it's people.

These ladies sell home made, crafts, drinks, and food of all kinds.  They even had dried llama babies for sale.??

Another photo of a local lady in Copacabana.

 The backpacks hold food, supplies, or babies.

This was the mercado right across from the church in the town square.

 This car was next in line to get a blessing by the Padre.  The traffic was backed up for more than two miles in Copacabana.

This car had a small store and home set up on it.

 The procession of decorated cars was endless, and slow.  I had a hard time getting my motorcycle past them, as I left the hotel. 

 Copacabana as I was leaving. 

A view on the cliffside of lake Titikaka before I got to the ferry. 

 Another scenic view outside of Copacabana with the snow covered mountains in the background.

 The ferries are in the background, and this is the short ride you take to the other side.

These two kids ranthe ferry

Passing the "Estrecho de Tequina" 

Got off the ferry here and had lunch and watched all the locals and tourists.  It was a beautiful day. 

 This is the fiesta going on in the middle of the road.  At first I thought it was a road block. 

 La Paz 80km to go 

 Just before La Paz there were small streams where the locals washed clothes, bathed, washed their cars , and watered their animals all at the same time and in the same area.

This is on the outskirts of La Paz. 

Shining shoes by the roadside.

La Paz, my first view of the city.

 La Paz near my hotel. 

The main street in La Paz. 

 My hotel in La Paz.  

This restaurant had a salad and soup buffet, before the main course.  All for $1.85.  But the peach soda was an extra 75 cents. 

The typical "trucha" or local food ... Soup is almost always served.

Inside the restaurant where I ate while I waited on the moto to be repaired.

Bolivian carne guisada

The sprockets that I was going to have replaced til I was told they were not the right ones.  So I took them back for a refund and kept the old ones which looked to still be good.

 The motorcycle repair shop, in the street.

photos of the city streets. 

The work bench of the tire repair man. 

 This type of dog is very common here.

 Just about done adding the new mud tire for "death road"

The bolt that had worked it's way free.

The buses are popular here.  I am a little scared of the police here.  They seem to target Foreign drivers and I was harassed by a policeman for going into a gas station against the arrow next to the pumps??? He then reminded the attendant to charge me the 9.75 bolivianos per liter as opposed to the 3.75 the locals pay. 

Main street in La Paz...from what I gather American influence is heavily rejected here.  In part due to the ex-president who was from America but really took advantage of Bolivia before he was thrown out of office and replace by an indigenous Quechua president who seems to be doing a great job.  Even McDonalds could not survive here and after 14 years of losses finally pulled completely out of Bolivia. 


City streets of La Paz

These ladies were selling chicharrones and potatos.. A very popular dish here.

The safety shop, where I was looking for rubber boots in a 44.5 but every shop I went to had up to a size 42

Stuck in traffic in La Paz.