Passing through Peru to breathless Bolivia
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The flight was quite the adventure. It was quite a turbulent ride and coming into land was like nothing we’ve experienced before. Kami-kaze pilot springs to mind. We sped very close to the mountains before doing a tight turn to come from the other side and zooming down to land. We were beginning to think the pilot would never brake and we would be off the runway as soon as we landed. Turns out all landings in Cusco are like this, which did not impress the lady beside Liz who clung to her husband for dear life. The air stewards were probably the most disorganised we have ever seen
Cusco is a very pretty town, cobbled streets, pretty gardens, old churches, fountains etc. It would be a nice place to stay, but we didn’t have time for that. Once in Cusco we organised trains, shuttles, accommodation and tickets for Machu Picchu. Alex went to exchange our money and kept being told the money exchange was just one more block, one more block. Alex was not impressed as the altitude made the walk at least 10x harder. We ended up taking a train at 9pm getting us in around 11. By the time we found our hostel and fell into bed it was just before midnight and we had to be up again at 5am. We love getting next to no sleep.
Thursday, it was Lizzie’s birthday woop woop but it was raining, nooooooo. We had left all our wet weather gear at the train station about 2 hours away as you aren’t allowed more than 5kg on the train to Machu Picchu, so we wandered down in the rain to the bus stop and bought some brightly coloured ponchos
That night we continued the celebration by getting on an overnight bus to La Paz at 10.30pm. We missed out on getting the 180 degree reclining seats and had to settle for we think about 120 degrees. Not bad. We quickly fell asleep, although Alex woke up at 4am with really bad altitude sickness, she loves it. Liz was relieved Alex didn’t spew or faint on her. We arrived at the Peru/Bolivia border around 8am and were told to get off the bus for immigration
At the bus station we made friends with blue jacket man (we had forgiven him for taking it off) who turned out to be from Germany but spoke some Spanish so he was able to organise our taxi for us. We got to Laura’s school (after driving round in circles as the Taxi driver had no idea where it was and only after he stopped to ask the 6th person did he find out) only to discover she had gone to the bus station to meet us, doh! But we were happily reunited soon enough (for those who don’t know, Laura is an American who came to NZ for a teaching placement at Bethlehem College last year). We met her kids and fellow teachers before heading to her place. Her house is awesome, just like any nice American/NZ home, it was so nice to have some normalcy again after a few crazy days. After a good sleep in, Laura had planned a trip to Coroico for the weekend. Getting to Coroico involved driving along the Death road in a minivan, woop woop. Our driver took the path of least resistance, he didn’t believe in driving around corners and tried to make it as straight as possible. The sign said Coroico was 83kms away but it was much shorter with all the corners he cut. Did we mention this van did not have seatbelts. The seat that Alex and I sat on, was not locked in correctly and moved back and forth depending on the incline of the road. It was like we never left Disneyland ;-)
Monday was a relaxing day before Laura came home and cooked us delicious Chili. We ate very well while staying at Laura’s, her and her flatmates are good cooks! Tuesday, we decided to do a day trip to Copacabana by Lake Titicaca. Our plan was a bit of a fail, we left the apartment at 9am, locked the door, only to discover we couldn’t get our the locked front gate. We were trapped between the house and the road, climbing the fence was not an option as it had huge spikes on top. Thus we sat in the driveway and had a Sudoku competition until the maid arrived at about 10am. Turns out to unlock the gate you just press a button in the foyer of the apartment, to us it looked like a door bell/light switch, oh well. So off to the bus station we went, only to discover we had missed the bus and the next one didn’t leave till 2.30 which was too late. Instead we walked into town and explored the markets, had some local food, they have these things like Cornish Pasties, but inside is not only curry mince but chicken and egg also, bizarre but delicious! We were a little worried about getting locked out till the girls came home at 4.30 so headed back to see if the maid was still there to let us in. Thankfully she was and we had an uneventful afternoon. That evening we headed out with the flat to a yummy Sushi restaurant (traditional Bolivian sushi ;-p) their service left a bit to be desired after arriving at 5pm and having our movie starting at 6.10pm, our dinner finally arrived at 6pm, yikes talk about scoffing it down
Wednesday, we said a sad farewell to Laura and her flatties. It was so awesome getting to hang out with her again, she looked after us so incredibly well. Hopefully it won’t be long before she’s back in NZ! We caught our 4.30 bus out of La Paz back to Cusco. What a different border crossing experience we had this time. This time, the majority of the people on the bus were foreigners and the bus left on time, crazy. At the border there was no giant queue, we were dropped right outside the Bolivian immigration office, quickly walked to the Peru side and our bus then picked us up right outside the Peru office, very nice. We then however waited there for a good 1 ½ hours, no missing the bus this time. After driving for 15mins we then had another stop for a good ½ hour. Multiple times the bus stopped for police inspections, clearly the Peruvians are not as trusting as the Bolivians. We made it back to Cusco at 4.30am zzzz we then waited in the uncomfortable plastic chairs of the bus station till about 6.30am when we were made to move by the crazy cleaning lady and thus we headed into town to wait till it was time to head to the airport for our 3.30 flight to Lima.
Two things we will not miss from Peru is their 'Inca Cola’, a fizzy drink which tastes like bubblegum and their ‘orange juice’ which tastes like overly sweet raro.