…was not a smooth one. After leaving the scenic beauty of Colca Canyon, we headed to Puno, Peru, a city bordering Lake Titicaca and Bolivia. Of course, the rainy season continued in Puno, so our first visit to the city was washed out. We spent most of our time in and around our hostel, not venturing very far due to the constant rain and cold temperatures.
The Border Crossing
We booked a tourist bus to get us across the border into Bolivia. The bus left Puno, Peru, and took us to Coppacabana, Bolivia. What an experience it was. First let us remind you that if you are in a foreign country, make sure you know exactly how long you are allowed to stay in said country. Unbeknownst to us, our passport were only stamped for a 30 day visit, the stamp was expired, and we only found out at the Peru exit immigration office. The good news was that our tour company had encountered this problem many times before, so they knew what to do. The bad news, was that they didn’t tell us what the plan was. The man from the company that was with us only kept telling us to follow him and do as he instructed one step at a time. He never told us what the end game was, just to do what he asked. First, he told us that we had to pay for each of us to get across and that we had two options. We could either pay $14 American each at a bank, or pay $24 each at the immigration office. Our guide said that we’d be better off going to the bank, so we followed him outside thinking that the bank was near, but then he tells us to get into a taxi and it will take us to the nearest bank. In a rush, we got into the taxi. Our guide told the driver to take us and wait for us. We were told that everything would be alright and he would be there when we got back. Once we got to the bank, more panic set in. The line up was out the door and around the corner. We then tried to convince the taxi driver to take us back and we would pay the extra money. What happened next was quite the surprise. The driver went into the bank, and sweet talked the security guard to let us cut in line. So instead of having 20+ people in front of us, we only had 5. Luckily the woman we were put in front of in line was very kind. Even though we could not understand each other, she could tell how in destress we were and tried to console us in Spanish as we waited. We paid our fine, got back in the taxi, and headed back to the border. We weren’t out of the woods yet though. When we got back, our bus was nowhere to be found. Now THAT is an experience of panic that we never want to have again. Imagine being in between two foreign, unknown countries, and not being able to go either way. Oh yeah, and all of our stuff was still in the bus.
Then some relief. We found our tour guide, who waited for us. We went back into the immigration office, showed them that we paid our fine, got our passports stamped, and went back outside to find out that the next part of the plan was to take another taxi to the bus station in Bolivia. Back into a taxi and away we went. After yet another harrowing ride, we arrived at the bus station to find our bus and all of our belongings waiting for us. We also found some anxious passengers who were concerned about the travelling family that suddenly went missing. After several minutes of thanking our guide, we got back into the taxi and headed to our hostel for some much needed relaxation.
Las Olas Hostal in Copacabana is actually more of a small resort than hostel. It is run by a German expat who has some interestingly beautiful taste in architecture. One suite is even shaped like a snail shell. Each suite is its own building, and they each boast a hammock, a kitchenette, fireplace, and a stunning view of Lake Titicaca. Definitely the perfect place to relax and unwind. We enjoyed the resident alpacas and beautiful gardens on the mountainside property. Los Olas was on the high end of our budget, but well worth the extra Bolivianos to spend some time in our own little place by the lake.
Copacabana is a small town of about 5000 people nestled in the Bolivian mountains on the shores of the worlds highest navigable lake at an elevation in 3841 meters. The small shore of lake Titicaca had many water activities to keep us busy. We took jet ski rides, and the kids enjoyed rolling around on the water inside what can only be described as floating orbs.
Isla Del Sol
We took a two hour boat ride to Isla del Sol (Sun Island). This island is where the Incas believed was the birthplace of the sun. A beautiful and sacred place. The island has no motor vehicles of any kind. We docked on the south shore with the expectation of then going to the north shore, but realized that either the person we bought our tickets from screwed up or screwed us by punching our tickets to say south shore. We complained to our “captain” who was not interested in hearing us and told us to get off his boat because we supposedly hadn’t paid to be dropped off on the north end. Not much recourse for us in a foreign country, and with no head office to complain to, we carried on to explore this part of the island. It didn’t take us long to forget about the rude captain due to the immense beauty of Sun Island. We spent the better part of the day there exploring, and walking along the mountain tops admiring the views. We decided we would also come back and explore the north side another day, and with another boat company.
The next stop on our adventure takes us into the bustling and chaotic city of La Paz Bolivia.