(sat: 28/09/02) departed puno peru and ...

Trip Start Sep 02, 2002
Trip End Oct 12, 2002

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Saturday, October 5, 2002

(Sat: 28/09/02). Departed Puno, Peru and headed South towards Bolivia. Passed evidence of road blocks set up by the locals to disrupt (and stone) passing traffic on the day of the general strike. Nice.
Got to sit up front of the truck with Aussie driver Kev, helping him (not that he needed it) to avoid the dogs, bulls and sheep that wandered onto the road. A depleted group in the truck, down from 20 to 13 (5 having left to avoid the strike and 2 having left to go to Copacabana Beach). Lake Titicaca on our left, reacahed the border with Bolivia, then onto the capital La Paz (the highest capital in the world for all you quiz buffs). Was a grand site, built in the crater of a volcano. Hotel (our 8th on the trip so far !), and that was it, our final trip in the Kumuka truck was sadly over. Had a wander around the town (stuff is so cheap here), many ideas for souvenirs though I won't be buying any of the lama feutuses on sale ! (Apparently they are used in the construction industry, they are buried in the foundations of a new building for good luck !).
The last evening of the tour group saw us all going down to 'Mangos'. We had to dress up in clothes purchased for us by others in the group (those of us that took part that is !), got away lightly, some of the guys had to wear dresses and dress as school girls ! and as for the tour guide Brooke in her nurses uniform, well .... A great way to end the tour, the photos should be good.
- Next day, chilled out in La Paz. Wander around, some shopping, internet and postcards. Group now reduced to 12. Said our farewells to others who were departing early morining (good luck in NZ Mr & Mrs Sheepy; have fun in Miami and Australia McKraken).
- (Monday). Waved goodbye to the Kumuka truck as it left on the reverse of our jouney (ie La Paz to Lima) with 9 (new) passengers on board. Hope they have as much fun as we did.
Now to the next stage of the trip, a tour of South West Bolivia.
Five of us (Andrew,Caroline, Carol, Andy & I) headed South for a 5 day trip around the salt lakes. Coach (3.5 hours) to Oruru, where at the Namjama resturant we ate the biggest rack of lamb you have ever seen (3 quid too !), then by the twice weekly running train (8.5 hours) to Uyuni. Some great scenery, also watched 'Snake of the shadow of the eagles claw' and 'Blade II' (nibble head !) on route. Arrived in the dark. Hotel.
- (Tuesday). Joined the tour vehicle, would have been cheaper to book the tour at Uyuni rather than taking the easy way out by booking it at La Paz as we did. A Toyota land cruiser with 8 of us uncomfortably crammed in, including 2 Frenchman, Frankie -you should have changed that t-shirt at least once during the trip !!). Headed out, first stop the salt flats, then to Isla de Pescado (fish island), a rocky outcrop in the middle of the flats that looked like a fish (apparently). Then a bumpy ride through the desert to the spartan overnight accommodation, a 7 room dormitory. Played football with the locals until dark. Meal, local drum & pan pipe band - a useful tip, pay them off early so they leave as soon as possible, a horrendous din !
- (Weds). Early up, to car, to the rocky dirt track 'roads'. To the lagoons. Really spectacular, of various colours, dependant on the minerals, and awash with flamingos. Saw a chinchilla ( a large squirrel type animal with a rabbits head). Built myself a 'lucky' rock pile in the desert. To the next accommodation, another ramshacked affair. Arrived at 1600 hours, not much to do around the place, apart from hunting the Baņos, listening to the wind and Andrew clipping his nails. Played cards (black bitch and sevens).
- (Thurs). Up at 5am, no lighting, no shower available. Out to see the geysers - just great thses were, passing over the highest point of our trip so far (4,900m). To the hot springs and a bathe. To Luguana Verdi - a stunning blue/green lagoon with fantastic views. This was the most South Western place in Bolivia from where you could clearly see the mountains of Argentina and Chile. Bumpy ride to the next accommodation (the tour is not for the easily shaken). Saving grace for this place was a shower for the girls, though they were surprised next morning when they were asked to pay for use of it ! Cards, beer & bed.
- (Friday). Headed out to the train graveyard. Awesome beasts of a bygone age, pity they are rustng away. Finnaly succummed to the dreaded tummy bug, know how Andy must have felt now when he suffered from it. Lost weight rapidly ! 5 weeks without any problems thought I was home and dry. Uyuni and the end of the hotel. Really enjoyed the tour, accommodation could have been better though and the dirt tracks less rocky ! Well worth a visit though. Hotel. Found we'd been overchaged, Andrew, Caroline & Carol did a fab job in redressing the balance. Said farewell to A, C & C who took the night coach back to La Paz, unfortunately did not get to wave them off (or eat my piza) due to my tum. Have fun in Miami A & C it was great travelling with you, enjoy Chile & Australia Carol, it was fun.
- (Sat). A chilling out day, began to recover. Booked our coach ticket back to La Paz (leaving this evening) a 14 hour trip. Dossed around the town all day as there was a power-cut from 1000-1600, then took our first chance in a week to hit the internet. La Paz tomorrow, then probably onto Copacabana Beach..
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