Sunday, January 16, 2011

In Peru

The next day in La Paz we got up early and headed to Coroico. This road is known as "the world's most dangerous road". We had magnificent views down the valley and the sheer cliffs. The clouds were hanging on the tops of the mountains, and probably about 12C. Unfortunately, we missed the turn off for the gravel route, so we stayed on the asphalt. It was quite dodgy as visibility was 4 feet due to driving in the clouds. We had to ride with our visors open or else constantly use our gloves as windshield wipers! As we turned around, the clouds closed in and rain started to fall, so we decided to head back to La Paz and go out for pizza. Lisa discovered that evening that her face had begun to peel from a sunburn obtained in Salar de Uyuni.
Death Road

Leaving La Paz
We left La Paz in the morning and drove to Capacabana. It took us a good hour to get out of La Paz and the surrounding suburbs. The traffic was chaotic, and one driver tempted his fate when his van was only an inch away from the panniers. Clouds of black smoke pour out of the exhaust pipes of transport trucks, as the diesel is burned and there are no catalytic converters. We would have to hold our breath when we passed one.

The ride to Copacabana was beautiful, with the back drop of snow capped mountains and then Lake Titicaca. The world's highest lake at 3812 m. We boarded a very small ferry with wooden planks for vehicles to drive on. The big problem was that we had to back the bike off. This almost was a disaster as the ferry driver was pulling the bike to fast and it was on a narrow plank. We yelled at him, 'slowly, slowly'! Grif was able to save the bike from falling over.

On the ferry

Once in Copacabana, we managed to find a room with a lake view! The lake was dotted with fishing boats and touristy paddle boats, in shapes of swans and ducks. We strolled down the beach and the town. We bought some caramel coated popcorn and deep fried donuts with syrup on them. We went out for dinner to a lovely restaurant that overlooked the town and the lake.We watched the sunset as Lisa had fried chicken with fried bananas and apples and Grif had fried king fish with lots of cooked vegetables.
Lake Titicaca from room in  Copacabana

The next morning we headed for Puno, Peru. We tried to top up the tank in Copacabana, as fuel prices in Peru are twice as much, but the only gas station was out of gas until at least 4 pm. The Peruvian border was very unorganized. There were at least three tour buses loaded with backpackers, all of which were in line for the Migration office. It was a very long wait. After getting our passports stamped, Grif went to the Customs office to sort out the bike paperwork. The customs official was not interested in helping us, as he would rather watch television and seemed a bit upset when interrupted! Then we had to go to the Policia, where they asked to see insurance, so we showed our Canadian and that was fine. The border took us at least two hours to get through.The sun was hot, 20C, and there was no shade. We also remembered to reset our watches!

I  have to mention, the last time we headed into a new country, from Chile into Bolivia, it took us two days to figure out that we had the wrong time on our watches! We were early for our breakfast two days in a row... that clued us in!

The small towns in Peru seem to be better organized, with better roof tops on the family homes. Once in Puno, we saw our first moto-taxis. They are quite groovy! We found a great hotel with parking, Conde de Lemos. We were offered a suite for the price of a regular room. So, the biggest bathtub ever, laundry service, hair dryer, big flat screen tv with satellite, fridge, balcony and breakfast buffet! The front desk even organized our tour of the reed islands!

Peruvian Mototaxi

The next morning we had a great breakfast and then went to see the Reed Islands. There are approximately 1500 people living on reed islands on Lake Titicaca. Each little island houses 5 to 6 families. They depend on tourism for income and sell artisans. Lisa tasted some reed... tasted like a banana!
One of the reed islands

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