Leaving Bolivia

Trip Start Apr 03, 2006
Trip End May 29, 2006

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Tuesday, May 9, 2006

So itīs Tuesday and we are leaving Bolivia for Peru today... yeah!!! But first let us fill you in on our last few days since Uyuni.

Leaving Uyuni was an experience as one bus was cancelled so everyone was crammed onto one bus instead... luckily we both got a seat but some of our companions were not so lucky and had to sit in the aisles (see photo). Arriving in Potosi we found there were no buses or flights to La Paz (lots of strikes going on in Bolivia over pay and taxes) so we went in search of flights from Sucre which was only 2.5 hours away from potosi by car... after much discussions with the lady in Aerosur, Amberīs patience paid off and we secured 3 seats in first class for Amber, John and Amy as economy was full. Next challenge was getting to Sucre - we secured a ride with a local taxi driver from Sucre and after a rather tense 3 hour cab ride we arrived in Sucre and booked into a boarding house for the night. Sucre is the offficial capital of Bolivia and most of the buildings are colonial white - rather different to where we had come from.

Unfortunately it was Amberīs turn to be struck down by the dreaded stomach bug doing the trounds but that didnīt dampen our spirits on our 45 minute first class flight to La Paz, arriving at the worldīs highest airport (4058m above sea level). You certainly knew about it when you stepped off the plane as lifting your bag was a struggle.

La Paz is a crazy place, so manic and there are the worldīs highest concentration of Nissan and Toyota vans, all full of people travelling around. Our hostel was nice and we took in some sights on Thursday afternoon, including the San Pedro prison (must read Marching Powder as tells of life in there, including the need to build a business to survive and the cocaine factories in the basements), the coca museum was superb, learning all about the cultural importance of coca in terms of religion, livelihood, addiction and values. A chilled day and a nice meal to say goodbye to Amy as she headed north to Peru for the Inca trail.

Friday we were joined by Sally and James again so we headed out of town for some fresh air to visit the Tiwanaku ruins which was a real treat and we got there super fast having negotiated with a local cabbie!

Saturday - The Worldīs Most Dangerous Road on a Mountain Bike!!! What more can I say except WOW!!!! We began the ride at wind-swept La Cumbre (4,700m/15,400 feet) with fantastic views of a number of snow-covered peaks, including Huayna Potosí (6,088m/19,973 feet). From here a rapid descent down a twisting road among mountain peaks, grazing llamas and alpacas, tiny villages and a drug check-post (?!). After a snack a further descent, and after a brief undulating section of road we entered the jungle itself and the most challenging section of the ride. This infamous narrow dirt road is cut precariously into the side of the mountain and descends 2,000m (6,500 feet). With 1,000m+ (3,300 feet) sheer drops off to our left and hulking rock overhangs and cascading waterfalls to the right, we rode through mist, low cloud and dust. It was a pleasure to enjoy some of South America's most dramatic and beautiful scenery hurtling down the road. Near the end of the ride it gets progressively hotter and dustier. By the time we arrived at the bottom in Yolosa (1,100m/3,600 feet) we were tired, hot, dirty and totally exhilarated. John enjoyed the last 20km, Amber loved it from start to finish including the difficult climb near the start.

Sunday - Johnīs Birthday!!!!!
An interesting bus journey to Copacabana when the tyre burst ont he bus, driver never flinched, just changed it and off we went, oh and an interesting ferry ride at Tiquina to cross Lake Titicaca and save time. Johnīs birthday was to be special as we booked ourselves into a cliff top cabin with the best view in town, looking out over Lake Titicaca, abosultely beutiful. Trout is the local speciality so Amber got fully involved, John celebrated in true John style, a dirty greta big steak! Oh and some Castillo del Diablo to wash it down. Amusingly, as Amber had mentioned to the hotel it was Johnīs birthday, the local band came and sang happy birthday and presented him with a cake in the restaurant, superb!

Monday - La Isla del Sol... beautiful island 2 hours boat ride on lake Titacaca. Beautiful. john was under the weather (his turn) so chilled on the island whilst Amber trekked up the hill to the ruins and did the 3 hour trek from teh north to the south with a lovely couple from Greenwich. The views were awesome, the harsh terrian in stark contrast to the vivid blue water. Only downside, burnt calves! Hey ho.

So now itīs Tuesday and we are taking the bus to Puno along the west side of Lake Titicaca to Peru... yippee!!!!! Newcastle Utd shirt is out on show proudly!

Hope you enjoy the update and photos. Thanks for all your birthday messages to John, much apprecaited.

Chat soon when we arrive in Cucsco.... Inca Trail begins 15 May!!!


Amber & John
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