The musings and misadventures of a girl unprepared

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Lake Titicaca and the Isla del Sol

After La Paz we headed to Copacabana on Lake Titicaca, joined by Charles and Lucy who we met at the Wild Rover. En route we had the nice surprise of having to get off the bus and take a boat across part of the lake whilst our bus did the same, on a rather rickety looking barge. We came to the conclusion that we had to get off the bus as the barge it came across on looked so unstable, there must have been instances in the past where the whole thing has capsized... Luckily the boat, bus and all our luggage made it across safe and sound.

Our bus... on a barge.

Once in Copacabana we spent a couple of days enjoying the sunshine and hiking up a nearby hill which was quite the challenge at this altitude (we're over 4000m up!!) but the view of the lake was beautiful. I can't believe how HUGE it is, seriously puts 'the lake' at the bottom of Newman College to shame :p

Outside the Cathedral!

It took real skill to get the self timer on this right.

We're now back in Copacabana after spending the past few days on the Isla del Sol, which was ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE. We spent a day hiking from the north to the south side of the island and checking out the ruins at the Inca creation sight. The views were stunning, take a gander:

Steve, Georgia, Lucy and Charles have all head of to Arequipa for a few days before coming to meet us in Cusco for EVIE'S BIIIIIIIIRTHDAY on the 31st. I can't wait! We're still debating whether our next move will be staight back to Cusco or to the Uros Islands on the peruvian side of Lake Titicaca. All depends on pennies really, but fingers crossed we'll be able to get everything in :)

A week in La Paz

I don't know how we did it but we managed to spend a whole week in La Paz and do very little. But that's not to say we didn't have a good time.

After a whole day in bed recovering from our hectic journey from Sucre, we spent a large portion of the second day making jewellery on the street with a brazilian guy called Denny, who was allegedly 25 but has been travelling for over 10 years... However he was pretty cool and taught us how to make bracelets and anklets, tying Georgia up in a rather amusing fashion in the process. We also had to put a good thought into every knot and make a wish as he burned the ends in order to ensure the item held 'good energy'. I love travelling hippies.

Evie and Georgia both got tattoos at Pepe's tattoo parlour during our stay.


(If you can't see it, it's an arrow on her foot. OUCH.)


Georgia designed both, pretty impressive eh? So that just leaves me now, any suggestions on what I should get?? :p

Watching the Champions League Final at an english pub called Oliver's travels was quite a highlight. The pub was FULL of Bayern Munich supporters, Germans, Israelis and English alike, so Evie, Steve and I decided to support Chelsea, just to add some diversity. It was SUCH a good game, though I'm not sure how Chelsea did it, I was sure it was all over multiple times. Unfortunately it did ruin the mood in the bar a little as the Germans didn't exactly take the defeat well, but our band of about 6 Chelsea supporters were loving it :D

On our last day we made a trip to the witches market which was rather interesting. You could buy all sorts of bottled potions and there were llama foetus' hanging everywhere (something about warning off evil spirits). Evie and Georgia also got their tarot cards read which was MEGA CREEPY because the lady was REALLY good. It freaked me out far too much so I whimped out.

The rest of our time was spent mainly partying at the Wild Rover (we got to go to our second UV party, whoop whoop!) or eating at Cafe Banais. The Wild Rover was really great fun and we met some proper cool people there. But probably spent a little too much time there instead of exploring the cultural side of Bolivia's capital city. Ah dear. But I did get a few pics of around the city...

Sugar Daddy, G-Meister General, Eve-ster and The Cow at the caf. (It would seem I got the short straw on the nickname front)

Monday, 21 May 2012

Salares photos, as promised :)

Journey to Sucre

Here's the belated update for Uyuni-Potosi-Sucre. I apologise for the slight overload of posts to follow!

The journey from Uyuni to Sucre wasn't the most pleasant one we've had. Nevi (our driver from the Salt Flats tour) warned us that there were bad, very bumpy roads for the first 5 hours of the journey and he was quite right. However the views were INCREDIBLE. Bolivia has to be in the running for one of South America's most beautiful.

We had to change buses at Potosi, the world's highest city, but as always buses in SA are never very reliable and we ended up waiting an extra 2 hours on what we were originally told.

In this time we decided to grab some lunch/dinner as we were all rather peckish. As we'd never been at such a high altitude we did overestimate our ability to wander around with our backpacks on and after a walk that should have taken 5 minutes and 0 effort in England, we were completely exhausted.

And the meal we received turned up on a school dinner and was... Well I'll let Evie explain:

'Imagine dog food. Not Pedigree dog food. Asda dog food. 30 per cent meat dog food. Imagine it minced to a state of neither solidity nor liquidity. Imagine it sandwiched between two pieces of bread, one stale and solid as a rock, one soggy and limp. Imagine it garnished with a tomato that is festering before your very eyes. Imagine the six lonely chips served in the adjoining compartment. Imagine a burger that almost drove a grown man to tears.'

It was really horrible.

We also discovered that in Potosi they worship the devil, call him uncle and scarifice animals to him. Their logic behind this being as they work in the mining town, they work closer to the devil than God. So as you can imagine, we couldNOT wait to leave.

On arrival in Sucre we had to ask around as to where our hostel was, as the bus didn't drop us at the terminal. We were surprised when a girl told us that we were on the other side of town to where we thought we were. She tried to encourage us to get into an unmarked, unlicensed taxi, but luckily we're not stupid and therefore had a look around for something more official looking. When we showed the driver the address we discovered the street we needed was actually the one we were on! The lying so and so obviously has tried to bundle us away in her boyfriends taxi so he could rob us for all we owned and leave us stranded in the middle of the surrounding hills. I hope they've never actually succeeded in praying on any other poor unsuspecting gringos.

Look how pretty Sucre is!

The next three days were pretty chilled out, we explored the city, watched the football, ate a lot and had a look around a really pretty graveyard. So yes, the news about Joey Barton being a complete tool has reached an international level.

Visiting the graveyard was a pretty emotional experience. Its difficult to describe really how it made me feel. There were some graves like this:

Huge elaborate things obviously for those families who are absolutely minted.

Some like this:

I have to say the ones all piled on top of each other did freak me out a bit. In my opinion it's not really right that the bodies should rot in a compartment and not give back to the earth to help give life to other plants and animals. But they were mostly beautiful, really elaborately decorated with gold and silver and things that one would associate with that person. From these graves it was easy to see the divide in wealth in Bolivia, as some hadn't yet been able to afford more than some spray paint and a pringles tube to home some flowers.

There was one section on the graveyard I couldn't bring myself to photograph because it had been completely smashed up. It was obviously the section for those with the least amount of money, just like a mass grave really, with little crosses and homemade grave stones. But see it be treated with so much disrespect made me feel sick in the stomach. Everybody deserves dignity after death and every family deserves somewhere to mourn.

As you may have guessed from my last entry, we're now in La Paz but are leaving tomorrow! Update on our antics here to follow shortly...

N.B. Sorry about the length of this post, so much has happened it was hard to summarise anymore!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

'Leave the bags!!'

When I was 14 I wrote a bucket list and one of the things on that list is: to get in a taxi, point and shout 'follow that car!' Last night we pretty much did just that.

Our bus to Sucre was due to leave at 8.30, so we arrived at just gone 8 to check our bags in. We were surprised to be told to 'CORRE/RUN!' Because the bus was setting off. TWENTY FIVE MINUTES EARLY. Now I don't know if that's the norm in other countries but in England it is completely unheard of, the bus just being on time is a miracle.

So we ran, ridiculous backpacks and all and attempted to flag down the bus turning out of the station with the help of a by-standing bolivian family. The driver decided to ignore us. BIG MISTAKE. This then turned into some epic movie style chase through the streets of Sucre.

Evie shouts at me 'leave your bag!!' and I throw it down behind me and run (as fast as I can) with the bus operator lady after the bus through the very busy market streets that surround the terminal. Meanwhile Evie is wondering why on earth she offered to carry the two bags and shouts 'Ayudame!/Help me!' Until a bolivian couple come to the rescue. The couple are outraged at what's happened and the husband flings my bag over his shoulder, takes Evie's up in arm and chases after me.
And the bus STILL didn't stop, despite the girl from the company, me AND the angry bolivian man signalling and calling for the bus to pull over.

Well by this point Evie and I were all ready to give up. However apparently in Bolivia it is at this point custom to throw the bags into the back of a taxi and shout 'Follow that bus!!!' So that's what we did.

The taxi drove at 90mph, weaving in and out of cars through the extremely hectic night time traffic of Bolivia's capital city, until we eventually caught up with the bus. The taxi driver then waved like a mad man at the bus until it followed us to a nearby side street and pulled over. What a legend.

To our horror the bus still tried one last escape attempt as we began to get out of the car and get our luggage, but the drivers had an exchange of extremely stern glances indicating that our driver wasn't going to give up the chase that easily.
Exhausted and struggling the breathe from all the excitement, we hurried onto the bus after profusely thanking our taxi driver and giving him double the amount he asked for. And the bus driver had THE CHEEK to tap his wrist and shake his head at us.

We spent the next 12 hours fearing for our lives under the knowledge that we were at some point going to venture over South America's most dangerous road in a bus that cost us £9 each and who's driver drove like a mental person. Proof of which can be found in the journey time, which was supposed to be 14-16 hours. Also he stopped more than once during the night to let random people on in the middle of the countryside and I bet he didn't sigh and tap his wrist at them.
On the plus side the stars were stunning and I woke up in time to watch the sunrise over the desert. Which was rather beautiful.

By some stroke of crazy luck, we are now safe and sound in Bolivia's administrative capital, La Paz. Which also happens to be the world's highest capital city so I am struggling a little with the altitude, but it's nothing that some good food and more sleep won't solve. I still can't believe we made it.

So special thanks to all those awesome bolivians who helped us last night, thanks to you we are still on time with our travel plans and haven't lost out on 90 bol. To the driver of the bus who nearly left two young girls stranded in Sucre's more questionable end of town in the dark... Cheers mate.

Friday, 11 May 2012


Adios Chile! And CREEPY chilean men. 'shudders' We were harrassed so many times, invited to join them in bed after having just met them and all sorts. Even pretending to be german and speak a language they didn't understand at all didn't work. It was strange because it was NOTHING like that in Peru. So girls if you're planning on travelling without a guy, be warned, the older men have 0 respect for women (the younger ones on the other hand are really respectful and polite). Evie has now invested in a fake wedding ring, as they seem to leave you alone if you already 'belong' to another man. ERGH chauvinism makes me so angry.

Since my last post we finally managed to leave Iquique (we missed our first bus and had to stay ANOTHER day... though this did save us money in the long run) We actually went on a day trip two days before we left to a oasis town called Pica, where there was a really nice lagoon to swim in. It was sooooo deserty and HOT. But really pretty. We also tried to visit a ghost town called Humberstone, but our bus was late and we missed getting in by 17 minutes. From the entrance we could still see plenty of people inside too, but the meany security guard said no :(

On arrival in San Pedro de Atacama, our last stop in Chile, we met Georgia and Steve, both brits who had started travelling together a few days before. It would seem our route for the next few weeks is exactly the same, which means we have two new travel partners! We all get on really well too, which is always a plus :)

San Pedro is a really pretty small town and the stars art night are unbelievable. The sky is so clear! There's not really much going on there though unless you want to do extreme sports, sandboarding etc. So we just stayed the one night to book our tour and freshen up after our long bus ride from Iquique.

We have just arrived in Uyuni, Bolivia after a three day tour from San Pedro, in which we saw Lagoons, Volcanoes, Flamingos, Llamas, the Salares... the list goes on! It was so incredible, I would 100% recommend it to anybody travelling in the area. I can't really describe in words how amazing the trip was and unfortunately I can't upload my pictures on this computer but hopefully I'll be able to post some in the next few days.

Saturday, 5 May 2012


Aside from the 5 hour bus ride on Wednesday, the majority of the last four days has been spent chilling out on various beaches.

Arica was really lovely, we had such a good time there relaxing (I'm beginning to learn the difference between relaxation and lazyness) and swimming in the pacific. It's such a nice place to swim, even if it is freezing. We also took a few beach pics in an attempt to make everyone at home jealous. I hope it works.

The bus to Iquique was pretty horrible, for some reason Chileans like to close the windows to make the bus even more stuffy and ROASTING HOT. Evie and I also got taken off the bus by three policemen and were questioned about whether we were smuggling drugs inside of us... It was so scary. We were so relieved when we finally arrived at the hostel. Which is SO CHEAP and about half a minute from the BEEEEEEEACH (which is even nicer here than in Arica) :D

It's such a nice city to explore. There is loads of colonial architecture and the main square has a beautiful memorial with fountains around it.

We explored the markets a little and invested in a few bits of jewellery, before having a lovely wander along the beach. We've also discovered this awesome german cafe just around the corner from the hostel that does incredible burgers and cake. And I do love german cake <3 Yesterday I had my first SURFING LESSON and it was EPIC. I had so much fun, I forgot just how much I love watersports. I managed to stand up on the board too, I was rather proud of myself. Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of the experience, but if i get a chance to have another lesson I'll try and get some then! The rest of the day we spent on the beach. It may seem that we're doing very little at the moment, but we're just making the most of our last few beach days since we're heading in land to San Pedro de Atacama on Sunday. Wandering down the beach we came across some cool graffiti.

Pretty impressive eh?

And then we watched the sunset... it was so beautiful!