Rest of Peru, Bolivia and northern Chile

It’s been a while since I wrote an updated. I dont really remember what has happened in the last month so I’m just gonna summarize what I remember. Sara has been keeping up with her blog and she is extremely good at writing so go check hers out and see what we’ve been up to in detail! http://www.saraverburg.wordpress.com

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The rest of our time spent in cusco was filled with trying local foods, going to the market everyday and really indulging ourselves in the cuisine.  Peru has some amazing and cheap food, for anyone who is a foody, Peru is your destination. It was now time for us to hop on a bus and make our way to La Paz, Bolivia. Along the way we stopped at puno which is a town right on lake titicaca on the Peruvian side. We hopped on a boat and they took us to the famous floating islands where some people live year around, it was really cool to see and learn about the culture but I felt that the whole experience had gotten quite touristy over the years and couldn’t appreciate it as much as I wanted to.

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The border crossing was a breeze and mack and I got into Bolivia without any problems. We made our way to copacabana which is 5 km from the Bolivian border this is where we hopped on another boat which took us to Isla del sol, a cool island on lake titicaca on the Bolivian side. We spent a few hours exploring the island and then made our way to La Paz.  The first few days in La paz mack and I just hung out and didn’t really check out the city at all cause I got a very important message from sara saying not to see anything without her.

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The day finally came that sara arrived. On the morning of her arrival I woke up not feeling too well. I had no idea what was wrong with me it seemed to be a mix between a flu, the altitude and my asthma. This illness came in waves and slowly with the help of sara taking care of me after four days I felt better. Anyway when I arrived at la paz airport to pick sara up it was one of the smallest and shittest airports I’ve been to… and I’ve been to some pretty brutal airports including Vientiane in Laos also on that list would be the airport on the corn islands in Nicaragua… what a shit hole. You would think that the money that the country gets from tourism they would improve one of the main ways tourist get into their country but no these airports are still shockingly horrible security wise and the infrastructure. I clearly remember going through security in Laos and I swear the airport metal detector security thing wasn’t even plugged in, didn’t have to put my bags through anything and didn’t get patted down. The whole time I was just thinking to myself ‘okay…. I guess this is what air travel was like in the 90s’ … anyway back to what we’ve been doing. It was great to see sara after a month of being away, we took it easy in la paz with me being sick so we did the night market and a cool gondola system around la paz that they just built.

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The main activity thst we did was mountain biking down the famous death road. It was a full day of adrenaline filled biking. After a few minutes of biking on the edge of the 600 ft drop you didn’t even notice it was there and it became easier to take in all the scenic views. The death road leads to a town at the bottom of the mountain called coroico. Sara and I opted to stay a night in Coroico and mack went back to La Paz with the two canadian girls we met back in cusco. Our hostel in coroico was cheap and very nice with an amazing view of the whole valley, the town itself though…. not really too much going on. It was awesome temperature as it is in the jungle and about 2000 meters lower then la paz. The next day sara and I caught a bus back to La Paz in a van with a Bolivian family. I bribed the family with oreos so sara and I could sit together and they were very friendly and happy with my gifts.

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Right away from la paz we got on a bus back to copacabana so sara could see it and the Canadian girls were going that way too so it worked out perfect. We drove through a big storm and when we arrived all the power was out in copacabana. We found a hotel right on the water and after almost literally breaking both my legs on the slippery marble staircase we were in our room with three candles, no heat, no running water or food… this is why we travel right? We survived the night but needed to switch to a better place. We found a great hostel on the hill with a great view of the bay. We rented dirtbikes and ripped around exploring the town, also rented a paddle boat shaped like a swan, drank expensive beer on a sketchy rooftop restaurant, debated crashing a beach wedding party and to top it all off I got probably the worst burn I’ve got in my life. As I’m writing this two and a half weeks later I have just had my first day where my skin hasn’t peeled at all. I am rocking a completely new layer of skin and feeling great!  Our two days in copacabana were fun but it was time to move on.

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We decided a few weeks prior that we wanted to spend Christmas in Bolivia and new years in Chile. Planning things ahead when you travel like me is tough. I don’t like planning things too far ahead of time because I have literally no idea what I’m gonna be doing or where I’m gonna be at next week. I think that’s the best way to travel, there are so many what ifs that you can’t predict.
What if I meet good people and want to travel with them?
What if I really like this next town and stay longer?
What if the next town is shit and I don’t wanna even stay the night? (We planned to stay in Potosi for a night but when everything came together it didn’t end up working out and I’m extremely happy we didn’t have to waste a night in that shitty mining town.)
What if I get a job, get robbed, find my husband/wife?
What if I have to fly home early?
There are way too many things that could all of a sudden change for me to plan a trip from start to finish. I’ve always wanted to get a round the world ticket with multiple stops all over the world but it’s just too scheduled for me. Anyway what I’m trying to say is for anyone leaving on a trip for a long period of time (over one month) buy the plane ticket booked the first few nights and nothing else. Let the rest of the trip book itself. I’m getting distracted with this post. It’s been so long since I’ve posted one I’m having a hard time thinking back to Christmas.
So after copacabana we headed south to a city called sucre in the middle of Bolivia. This is where we would have Christmas. Christmas eve we went horse back riding (I don’t like horses) Mack, Sara and I decided to do a little gift exchange between each other with a $10 limit. It’s surprising how far $10 goes in bolivia. It was a great Christmas which ended with me trying to skype my family but with the Bolivian internet they couldn’t hear me and I could only see blurry blobs on the screen but it was still good nonetheless. Boxing day didn’t involve shopping this year. Unfortunately it involved a day bus to Potosi and a night bus to Uyuni.

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We arrived in Uyuni on the morning of December 27th ready to start our three day salt flat tour!
10:30 am we packed up the land cruiser and went to go pick up the other three people that would be stuffed in this vehicle with us for the next three days. The first two were a Dutch couple cester and bonny, the other guy was from China but was living in Lima so his spanish was awesome and he translated everything for us but I can’t remember his name!!
The tour included the bolivian train cemetery, salar de Uyuni (world’s largest salt flats) geysers, catus island, lagoons, wild animals including flamingos, the world’s driest desert and volcanos. The landscape was crazy I can’t even begin to explain the salt flats. It feels like you’re on a different planet. 360 degrees of white. Nothing else. Your group, the vehicle and white.

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While driving on the first day we were having some car problems and ended up breaking down in the middle of no where. Thankfully our driver called up his friend who had a spare battery and after Jimmy rigging the new battery we made it to our hostel. They worked on our car deep into the night to make sure it was ready for the extremely bumpy ride ahead. The next day everyone could tell the car wasn’t running to its potential, we were getting passed by all the other tour vehicles and our guide kept this worried look on his face. We survived day 2 without anything happening to our car. We celebrated that night with a few bottles of wine and some drunken conversations one of them being us canadians heading over to Holland to visit cester and bonny. (Which will happen!) And them coming to Canada when they’re old and grey.

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The next morning came quick with our 5 am wake up. We were promised hot springs during sunrise but that all came crumbling down when we got a flat tire 10 minutes into the drive. This hiccup ended up with us having not a lot of time at the hot springs. None of us went in so we started heading towards the chilean border by 9 we were there and again had no problems crossing the border. On the chilean side it was a long wait to get our entry stamp. Once in we went to our hostel in the town of san pedro de atacama. This is where we would be spending new years! San pedro is hot and dry with no rain pretty much ever. The wind from the Pacific makes the sky cloudless which is perfect for a clear night sky. There are many observatories in this region and many students that have telescopes themselves. One night we went stargazing with a physics student and he showed us the moon and many different consolations as well as Jupiter. I ate something bad the day before new years eve so it was a write off for me. On new years eve the drinking started early for some, the hostel had music blaring all day and everyone was getting ready for the new year. We did the new years count at the hostel with all the other travelers and then all headed to the new years party where Mack Sara and I had VIP which meant free drinks until 7 am. It was a great party but the alcohol got to me pretty early and I had to call it night at 2:30.
The first day of 2015 started with some bad hangovers for most of the hostel. After check out it was straight to the bus station to catch a 16 hour bus south to a city on the coast named La Serena to relax and enjoy the beach. We didn’t have a hostel so when we got to the bus station we just picked a random hostel in my lonely Planet book. It was full so we went to the hostel beside it. Dropped our bags off and checked out the city. When we got back that night mack noticed black things on his bed… after more investigation we came to the conclusion that they could be bed bugs but nonetheless it was dirty and disgusting and on all of the beds so we switched rooms and everything ended up being fine. The next morning we decided to treat ourselves and rent an apartment a block from the beach for the next few days. It ended up costing the same as a dorm bed and we had our own space with a kitchen and laundry machine. Chile is a lot more expensive then Peru and Bolivia so cooking our own meals was a nice change. Currently we are on a bus to Santiago, Mack and I need to get our visas for brazil figured out and with Sara leaving in a week we will probably stick to this area and hit the coast one more time.

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2 thoughts on “Rest of Peru, Bolivia and northern Chile

  1. Hey Dust,
    What a trip you’re on! Love the pics of the salt flats and good advice for the long-term travellers. This definitely applies to me 🙂 my boyfriend and I are about to leave China to start traveling around SE Asia, then heading up to Turkey and Europe. Probably gonna be a six month trip. Have fun in Brasilia. Looking forward to your next post!

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