22 Sep – hungover. Again. Of course. And still rather drunk, and very very sleep deprived. So, we go to breakfast. Much grumpiness by the two worst affected people – Ben & myself – which ’spills’ over into nastiness. I pull the old trick of unscrewing the salt cap to the point where it looks like it’s on, but is not. I think I’m doing it in plain sight of Ben. Turns out, not. Ben pours an entire shaker of salt onto his chips. I can’t help but laugh – while trying to explain/apologise. But he’s grumpy. Then I get grumpy. Then it gets worse, and Ben goes to sulk outside. And I stay inside, still unable to hold my tongue. Piss off Pen next, then finally manage to stick to my promise of holding my tongue to myself.
Next, Pen & I head to bus company office. Ben is being an internet nerd. Again. Pen & I have to stop for a rest halfway. A rest turns into Kruse throwing up into a rubbish bin. Not feeling too well this morning, apparently. Eventually we manage to get to the bus company office. It’s closed. We sit outside for an hour or two. It’s siesta time, you see. Eventually I go look for something to drink. Find a hostel with beer. Hope that beer will make me feel better. Big gamble – but it pays off. Manage to buy tickets, then head back towards Ben. Find a small market on the way. Fireworks. 96% alcohol. Same shop. Sold. Kill time for a while with internet. Let off one firework outside on the way to bus station. Don’t touch the transparent killer booze. Stop off at the pub from last night, to get a photo of our entry in their guest book. Add a little to it. Apologise to the owner, who doesn’t seem sure why. And agree to one drink, to sooth my guilt a little. He suggest the “I Don’t Remember”. A special teapot type contraption. 7 shots of spirits in seperate containers, which gradually empty into the centre compartment which is filled with beer. I gulp it down as quick as possible, as it’s nearly time for the bus to leave. Possibly not the smartest idea. But, it’s done, and then I hurry to the bus station. Get on bus. Rather comfortable bus, but possibly the most uncomfortable sleep I’ve had yet. Get up to throw up into the toilet one time during the night.
So, get to La Paz on the morning of the 23 Sep, still feeling like crap. Go back to the tried and true hostel. Use their free internet to try and find a place I’d heard rumours of with a swimming pool. But – no luck. So check back in. Then, I discover that the All Blacks game against Scotland is this morning. And we’re wanting some food. So, off to La Paz’s self-described “100% Fake English Pub”. Don’t like the sound of it, but it’s the best bet for rugby. And sure enough – it delivers. A little late. And with a very talkative american co-owner. But good enough. Until a little chap with a very high-pitched annoying voice sits directly behind us. Very annoying. Even before he starts talking about the haka to his friends. I don’t think he made a single correct comment. And then onto the weaknesses of the All Blacks. After not long, I’m fuming. His voice is not only annoying, and speaking nonsense – but is extremely loud. I mutter under my breath for some time, but Ben is the first to crack. The irish guy (turns out he’s irish) had said something about the All Blacks not having a chance to win the world cup, because of their weak defence. Ben turns around to point out that their is a zero next to scotland on the board. Then it’s all on. I finally get dragged in to ask the guy if he’s talking to Ben, or the people at the opposite end of the bar. My voice trembling with suppressed rage. It wouldn’t have been so bad if he’d been talking nonsense to his friends at an appropriate level. But he obviously intended everybody in the bar to hear his private conversation. And there was an irish couple seated near us, who obviously were now cringing – ashamed of this chap. And without talking to them, they’d seemed nice. We talked to them afterwards, and they were indeed nice, and indeed were cringing about the little leprechaun. Ahhh.. the leprechaun. Several phrases which he used repeatedly (and by repeatedly, I mean over 10 times each): ”I saw the game against Italy, and they really showed up the NZ centre defence” , “If they’re struggling to put Scotland away, there’s no way they can go much further” , “Scotland, I mean no offence (to his socttish friend), but they’re the whipping boys of the 6 Nations now” , “As soon as you face Australia or South Africa, they’re going to mop the floor with you”. And yes, we did use certain facts to try to stop him from repeating himself. The scores of the games against Italy & Scotland, for example. And the result of the Tri-Nations. But still, he’d just keep going. Eventually I went and sat elsewhere. I returned later, and Ben had managed to calm him down somehow, and they were discussing rugby in a normal tone, and it seemed to be rather more rational. Pen & I chatted with his friends, who were much more restrained.
After a while, and getting the american guy to make bloody marys for the bar – by individually peeling, squashing, and filtering tomatoes – Pen remembered it was Sunday. And therefore, the wrestling was on. So off we went. Figured out how to get there, and went there. Taxi to the satellite city of La Paz – and queued up for tickets. Ladies wrestling, is what it’s advertised as. We’re forced to buy a “Tourist Ticket” – which is about 10 times the price of locals. But they show us a pre-printed blurb to explain why – and please don’t argue. It kind of makes sense, but obviously lies. ”Protect the local atmosphere”. Then, when we get inside, all the tourists are on plastic chairs right by ringside. But, we get two free toilet passes – a free snack – and a souvenir. Toilet passes – turns out there are 5 toilet stalls. One with a sign on the door saying “Tourist Toilet”. The girl at the toilet entrance unlocks the padlock on it when we want to use it. Hmmm. Free snack – not bad, a drink and a choice of chips or popcorn. Souvenir – a tiny tiny little figurine of a woman. Not a woman wrestler. Just a local woman holding something. Maybe a watermelon? Too small to really tell.
But then, the wrestling. Turns out to be normal pro-wrestling – mostly guys. A couple of girls involved at the end. But all in all, pretty cool. There was a group of koreans(?) sitting near us. One of the bad guys (dressed in military fatigues) came out, and teased the korean tourists with the old ”slant-eye” gesture. Helping the tourists figure out the good guys from bad, I guess. Not that hard anyway – the ref always hugged the bad guy when he got in. The same ref for every match. Bad guy. At one point I stood up to threaten him, and security rushed in to make me sit down. Thought the gringo couldn’t tell fact from fiction. After not long, the crowd was throwing stuff at the contestants. Fruit, empty plastic bottles, etc. Anything. Children running through the protective barriers to recover ammo. I got my hand slapped by one wrestler. Pretty happy. Then, near the end, the fireworks started. Not literally – unfortunately. Wish I’d taken some though. But, they started throwing each other over the protective barriers – into the crowd. And of course, the crowd next to the barrier is all tourists. The koreans took a couple of serious poundings. Guys fully thrown over, and landing in their laps. People and chairs flying everywhere. Awesome. The second time – about 8 people went flying, including the guy right next to me. I was just on the right side of the border between amused spectators, and dazed unwilling participants. I think that may have been one of the ladies that was thrown, actually. Anyway – all in all a good night. Rather tired by the end of it.
24 Sep – get up and figure we need to do some useful stuff. First on the list – making sure Ben can actually stay a bit longer than originally intended. He’s got agreement from work – so now we just need to see if he can actually change his flights. So – off to see the airline. Airline is closed for siesta. We wander around a bit. Back to airline. Ben gets told there are no seats available for any appropriate days. Dumb. Do some shopping on the way back. None of the jerseys fit me very well. Which is a shame, because there were some spectacular ones. Pen breaks a mirror. Then, buy bus tickets to Lima for tomorrow morning (a 26 hour journey) and back to the hostel. Ben confirms there are actually seats available – and we head all the way back to the airline. It’s closed. Dinner, then back to hostel. Much walking today. So, I brew up some coca tea. I’ve discovered that if one chops up coca leaves, and drinks them through the yerba mate equipment – one gets a very odd feeling. Rather hyperactive. Then – somebody puts a DVD on. The Transformers. Sweet. Ben rushes down, followed by Pen, and we watch Transformers, with coca tea and cerveza. After this, Ben & I are wide awake – so we then put on The Simpsons. Pen goes to bed. 2am or so – we’re asked to finish up. Sure. Have to be up at 7 anyway.
7am, 25 Sep. We struggle up. Not feeling the best. Catch a taxi to the bus terminal, with the french guy whose DVD player and discs we watched last night. Onto the bus. Which is a van. Drive to the Peruvian border – then we do Bolivia migration, walk across a small wooden bridge, to Peru migration – and then find our bus company. Luggage has been dropped off – and we now apparently wait for an actual bus. Got an hour to kill – so wander around the town. Lots of street stalls selling DVDs. Including Terminator 4, and Apocolypto 2 & 3. For those of you who don’t know – these technically don’t exist. To my knowledge, although perhaps they have come out since I’ve been away? I doubt it. I’ve been looking for Die Hard 5. Back to bus company – and all our stuff and fellow passengers have gone. Go to look for them, and succeed. Yay. Then, wait around while they clean the outside of the bus. Onto the bus. Pen & I have 2 of the Death Seats. 2nd floor, right up the front. Most likely to die in case of an accident. Sweet. Comfortable though, as we can put our feet up on the window; and a good view of oncoming traffic – which sometimes isn’t such a good thing, as bus drivers here love to overtake. Movies start to be played. Some DVDs work, some don’t. But – there’s a constant stream of them. Constant. Eventually, sometime after dinner is served, they stop.
26 Sep – more DVDs. Breakfast. Then, finally, Lima. Pushy taxi drivers first thing in the morning after a 26 hour bus ride is not a good thing. It only took the first guy two attempts at asking if I wanted a taxi before I lost the pleasant tone to my voice. Didn’t quite snap, but was pretty close to. But, eventually, we got ourselves together, and got a taxi. Took us to a taxi he obviously gets a commission from – but then talked down the price for us. So – we’ve got a place to stay. And tired. But – need to get Ben’s goddamn flight home sorted. So, we have lunch, then find the airline office. Busy. With half the staff at lunch. Ben takes a ticket. Pen & I find the bar of a 5-star hotel, and have some drinks. I drink reasonably priced beer, Pen drinks champagne cocktails. The toilet has a huge bottle of listerine, with a pump lid. I take full advantage. Eventually Ben comes out. Reckons it’s gonna cost a ludicruous amount of money to change his flights. Dumb. We head back to the hostel. Pen & I find a supermarket. Buy blue cheese, wine, and beer. A man approaches me in the supermarket, trying to sell me marijuana and/or cocaine. I find the concept of buying cocaine in a supermarket amusing, but decline the nice man. I wonder what would he do if I insisted on taking it to the check-out girl for a price check? Back to the hostel, and we sit outside with some pleasant beverages, and cheese. Then, we head back towards supermarket. Stop at travel agency – and buy luxury bus tickets to the northern border for tomorrow afternoon. Ben & Pen return to the supermarket. I return to the hostel, and wait for them. They eventually return, laden with ridiculous foodstuffs. Blue cheese. Soft cheese. Hard cheese. Bread. Vienetta icecream. Artichokes. Palm hearts. Foie gras. Sparkling wine. Red wine. I don’t know what else. But we eat it.
27 Sep – sleep in a fair bit, and then spend a while at the breakfast table finishing leftovers from last night. Eventually we leave. Taxi to the bus station – and drop off our stuff. Then, taxi to the centre of Lima. Spot the famous Lima traffic jams on the way. Not much time to do the main sights – but we’ll give it a go. Marvel at the central square (is pretty cool) while rushing past it. First – the Museum of the Inquisition. Based in the base of the Spanish Inquisition for all of South America. Not as big or impressive as I’d expected, but not bad. A couple of lifesize models being tortured. A large jury/parliament type room. Where each desk has a Philips brand speaker with electronic voting device included. The spanish inquisition was far ahead of it’s time. And that’s about it. Then – on to the San Francisco Monastery. This had tickled my attention buds when I’d happened to read a line regarding the discovery of the catacombs. In which there is the bones of 70,000 people. Only discovered in 1951, they reckon. So, we went there. Very little time left. Only option to see it is a guided tour. We join a spanish language tour. Cursing everytime somebody asks a question. Nice library though. And a couple of nice altars and churchy stuff and what-not. Very nice in fact. Catacombs are the last top. Very very short on time now. Into the catacombs. Bones. Lots and lots of bones, everywhere. Ben and I sneak off down side passages, and find more bones. Pits of bones. Shelves of bones. Rooms where each type of bone has been put into it’s own compartment. So many bones. But, eventually we run out of time. The tour group has done a full circle of the catacombs – and the guide is about to show everybody a side passage which Ben & I had already sneaked down. We take our leave, and scarper. Find a taxi – and we’re off. Taxi seems to take a different way back. Seems to be heading further and further off track, into some less than busy looking streets. I get a little nervous, but think we’re still going in vaguely the right direction. Make sure that Ben is sitting behind the driver – so that in trouble we can both grab him. Then Ben & Pen ask me if we’re going in the right direction also. We wait a little longer – but I’m ready to try to drive the car from the passenger side after telling Ben to grab the driver from behind. Then – tow truck, backing sports car into garage, blocks road. Completely stops, while they offload the car. We’re certainly past the time we’re supposed to be at the terminal – but with some time to spare until the bus actually leaves. Tow truck takes it’s time. Then, the truck won’t restart. Nervous laughter. Eventually, it moves. And we get to the bus station without being kidnapped, and with the bus still there. Yay. We get on the bus. But my can of beer is confiscated. Dumb. Take our seats. We’ve put Ben right up the front, in a Death Seat – and Pen&I right down the back. More movies. Dinner.
Next update, we play bingo on the bus. Also, cross the border into Ecuador, and hopefully get rid of Ben.