I’m not kidding. After three months lounging around warmer climates next the the ocean, returning to the Bolivian highlands in winter is a shock to the system. We arrived in Copacabana, Bolivia after four days of fairly relentless travel, tired but happy to be back. The sky was bright blue, the sun shining and the air temperature barely above zero. When the sun went down the temperature plunged and we had to put all our clothes on.
Don’t even get me started on the effect of suddenly being back at 3850 metres in altitude again. Let’s just say that viewed from the other side of a splitting head the following day, those two celebratory pisco sours were a serious mistake.
Rewinding a few days…we left Cartagena, Colombia at midnight and the temperature was hot and humid. An hour or so later we arrived in Bogota airport where we were going to have to spend an uncomfortable night waiting for the 5.30am flight to Lima. Its been a long time since I spent a night in an airport, I can’t recommend it.
At least our flight to Lima was on time. The second I was in my seat I was asleep. I woke three hours later just as we were descending over the magnificent Cordillera Blanca towards Lima airport. Lima was covered in dense fog, something that happens often, and you could barely see the tops of buildings.
Negotiating Lima’s notorious rush hour traffic, and wishing I was anywhere else but Lima’s notorious rush hour traffic, we eventually arrived at our B&B. Luckily it had a room available there-and-then. We woke up around seven hours later, and if we hadn’t been hungry we’d have put in another seven hour sleep shift. What was left of the day was all the time we had in Lima – we were heading to the Bolivian border as quickly as possible.
As a resident of Bolivia you acquire a peculiar status…the Bolivian authorities don’t like you leaving the country. Perhaps they think you might have more fun in a neighbouring country and won’t come back…a sort of Shirley Valentine romance with an entire country. Whatever it is, they make you pay to leave Bolivia (tourists go free) and you can only leave for a period of three months in any calendar year. We had to be back in Bolivia before the 90 day limit.
Meanwhile in Lima, we had a bus to catch. The great thing about Peruvian buses is that for US$70 you get a seat that would put first class airplane seats to shame…they also serve meals and have video on demand! Despite that, I wasn’t looking forward to a 17 hour overnight bus from Lima to Arequipa. The bus was great, but 17 hours on a bus is probably a human rights violation. We arrived in Arequipa fairly bedraggled, but determined to push on.
A quick check of bus companies unearthed a Puno-bound bus leaving 15 minutes later. Just enough time to brush our teeth and grab some water and bananas. Seven hours later we arrived in Puno where we decided enough was enough. We took a taxi to a hotel and collapsed onto the bed. Sadly, we were up early the next morning to catch the bus to Copacabana. Time was ticking away and we wanted to be back in Bolivia a day before our deadline, just in case…
So here we are in Copacabana, only three weeks of our adventure left and soaking up some of that famous Lake Titicaca high-altitude atmosphere…that is, barely able to breath in an atmosphere of 3850 metres above sea level. It may be time to stock up on some llama wool items before we go anywhere else…it is bloody freezing here.