The Ten

The Ten

Friday, 16 October 2015

Puno, Lake Titicaca and on to Bolivia.

It was a good ride to Puno over the high altiplano; the road staying at more than 4000 metres (2 1/2 miles) high for most of the ride. Tarmac all the way and no dramas, just a nice relaxing ride under a cloudless blue sky. Passing through the Juliaca traffic before hitting Lake Titicaca; but, even though the lake was close, I couldn't see it. Not until almost at Puno itself was it revealed. Big is the word; straddling Peru and Bolivia but a world unto itself.

After checking myself into a hotel and the bike into the lobby next door; time for a wander around town and down to the lake. It was already dusk, so the next morning, I joined the tourist hordes again and got on a boat to see the floating reed islands of Uros. It was only a 3 hour trip, but that was plenty for me. Very, very touristy; indeed I'm not sure the lake dwellers would even still live on the reed islands if there wasn't a tourist dollar in it. But it was interesting to see the echoes of a once traditional lifestyle; but I wouldn't go again.

In the afternoon, it was on to Bolivia, only about 90 miles distant around the lake. I was headed for the town of Copacabana (no, not that one) still on the shores of Titicaca, but in a different country and a different time zone.

The main road continued more directly to the border with Bolivia and on to La Paz, but I turned on to a quieter road, with no signs to say a border was imminent. But the border was there; stamping out of Peru was easy. I was the only person there wanting to cross so it took no time; just lots of official looking stamps on my temporary import document. Bolivia customs: again, just me at the border. Filled out the form: "how long do you want to stay in Bolivia?" asked the immigration man. "Ehh, dunno, up to 30 days? Maybe?". I was given 30 days. Next the bike; easy (although I had to go and get my documents photocopied) and courteous process. So, I'm in!
Waiting by my bike for my return was a particularly unpleasant looking cop. You could feel the slime oozing from him. He pointed me in the direction of the police office at the border and made it clear I had to visit there before I could leave. So, I moved the bike to where indicated and went to the office; where the same cop was sat waiting. His English was as bad as my Spanish; but he went through the documents for the bike; driving licence; passport etc. scrawling in the details in some (dubious) looking ledger. Then he lowered his voice (a dead giveaway): "money". Eh, no. "Money, money, money!" No. There are few things worse than a corrupt cop and there was no way I was going to be extorted by this scumbag. I just smiled sweetly and politely reeled off a load of English until it dawned on him I was going to play. He then put some superfluous stamp on the back on the Temp. import document and off I went.
Welcome to Bolivia!

I spent a couple more days by lake Titicaca at Copacabana; but didn't do the tourist thing of the Sun and Moon Islands. Riding in these countries is more interesting and exciting to me than looking at piles of rocks (with the obvious exceptions) and sitting in boats with the backpacks and beards. So, I just relaxed; climbed a couple of hills around town, with superb views over Titicaca (a truly marvellous site); cleaned my bike and planned the next move. Its gotta be La Paz; if only to be able to see the Rugby World Cup quarter finals. Come on Scotland!!

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