We cycled beside the lake towards the Peru/Bolivia border, which was a flat and easy ride. As we were both excited about entering a new country, having some days off and seeing Karen, we were putting a fast pace down. As the wind was working with us, we were cycling at 30-35km per hour and arrived at the final border town at 11am. We looked for a final place to fill up with fuel, as we have heard it is difficult to get petrol as a foreigner in Bolivia
. It isn't always easy to get petrol in Peru either though, as we pulled into a petrol station that had chickens and a sheep milling around, and no attendants to be found anywhere. After finally finding somewhere to get fuel, we looked for somewhere to fuel ourselves. We found a small restaurant with a set meal of soup, with rice and fried cheese on top, and vegetables, which cost 3 soles ($1.20) and also came with a drink. Bargain! We then thought we would enjoy a final ice-cream in the sun of the main plaza before saying goodbye to Peru and starting the border crossing formalities.
The border crossing couldn't have been easier. We walked into the police station on the Peru side and got stamped out of the country within 2 minutes of walking into the building. We then cycled to the Bolivian side, which was 500m away. After filling in a form, which asked for some basic information, we were granted a month to stay in Bolivia. That was it, we had completed the border formalities within 10 minutes and were free to cycle into the country. It was much easier and quicker than either of our border crossing on this trip so far, and we were happy to be entering our fourth country on this trip.
As we started powering towards Copacabana I saw a strange sight coming towards me
. What on earth is that?!! We slowed down and then stopped to chat to a Korean guy who was cycling towards us. He had a home-made, wooden, trailer behind him, which he referred to as the “caravan”. In the caravan sat his twin 5 year old boys. They had been cycling across Asia, Europe, Africa and now South America for the past 3 years!!! They left when the boys were three and their mum had gone to China with their sister on an exchange program. The boys happily told us about going through the Sahara desert and seemed to love life on the road with their dad. He was giving them the experience of a lifetime and as we chatted about routes and swapped maps the boys played with some local children by the side of the road. Although I can't imagine the practicalities of the boys cycle touring the world and the girls in China, it makes me realise that what we are doing is nothing compared to what some people are doing. After meeting the 71 year old the other day and now this lovely family on the road it emphasises that anyone can do what we are doing, you just have to want to do it and make it happen! It was great to chat to them and tell them about the fun places in Peru they had ahead of them.
We arrived into Copacabana at 3.30pm, after cycling 80km, chatting to the Korean family for almost an hour and completing the border formalities, which isn't bad going. We cycled into the town and were immediately joined by two young boys who were eager to show us their bikes
. We headed down to the lake side, and found a restaurant with a couple of chairs outside where we enjoyed a beer in the sun, and awaited Karen's arrival. As we waited two other cyclists came over to join us for a drink and to talk routes and cycle plans. They didn't have many good things to say about cycling through Bolivia, including bad roads, really bad weather, difficulties with getting fuel and poor sign posts and directions. Well I couldn't listen to it, as I was too excited about meeting Karen and didn't want to hear any more bad things about this country.
Finally we met up with Karen and checked into the hotel that she had organised, which had a dormitory style room with three single beds. She seemed pretty impressed with how much stuff Kory and I had with us and how quickly we exploded it all over the whole room. That is why we can't check into proper dormitories. It was great to see her again. As we looked for somewhere to have dinner there was a power cut in the town and we were plunged into darkness. We found a restaurant but it turned out to be one of the strangest eating experiences I have ever had. Firstly, the place was full but it was “library silent” as Kory put it, then they closed down the shutters at the front, so we were effectively locked in and had to go out the side door, and then we were served powered mashed potato (Smash) with our fish. Quite strange! What other usual things will this country have in store for us?
We went to the market in the morning to stock up on all of the things that we may not be able to get hold of in Bolivia. We have heard that their supplies are a lot more basic, so we thought we should re-stock our “pantry” pannier with pasta, sauce, oats, honey and a few other things that we rely upon when we are camping. We also messaged Karen with our plans for arriving into Copacabana, which is where we are meeting her today.