Back To Bolivia

14 Sep – picked up early again from the hotel.  I don’t like being picked up early – as it means waking up early first.  In this case, however, we weren’t really early enough.  Well – somebody wasn’t.  We get to the bus station for our bus to Copacabana – and discover that our tickets are for the bus that has already left.  Honest mistake this time – somebody just booked tickets on the wrong bus.  Dumb.  However, the girl with us lacks initiative, and just stands there for a very long time looking dumb.  Eventually, we buy tickets for the next bus ourselves, and head off.  Get to Copacabana – and have lunch.  Pen & Ben sit around doing Pen & Ben, while hard-working trustworthy hero Kruse goes researching stuff.  A real asset is old Kruse.  Found a cheap hostel – and we drop off most of our stuff there before getting on a ferry to the Isla del Sol.  The Sun Island.  Birthplace of the sun and the moon and all sorts of things.  Ferry is dangerously overloaded – and I watch Pen fall asleep on the rooftop seat with a very low back nearly protecting her from toppling backwards into the lake.  Then, the english couple next to us mention that they’d heard that anybody who is lost overboard – there is no attempt to rescue them.  Most locals view it as an offering to the lake.  Sweet.  I spend the rest of the trip imagining scenarios in my mind of how we would save Pen’s life.  Also – power lines crossing the decently sized channel between mainland and island.  Big long drooping power lines.  Ben & I simultaneously see the potential for an awesome flying fox.  We get to the village on the southern end of the island.  Climb up lots of stairs.  I walked fast, coz I’m a very fast walker.  We kept climbing up and up and up, although we weren’t really sure if it was the way.  Then, instead of buying a thing from tout, I got directions instead.  Then, stopped for a beer, and asked for more directions.  Then we got to the top of the hill.  Took some photos, because the view was pretty.  Then noticed that the track didn’t seem to exist anymore.  So we headed in a general direction.  Ben climbed a hill.  Told us to go one way.  We kind of did, but not quite.  We were off the beaten track.  Then an old man chased us, and caught us.  Friendly enough, but turned out we were supposed to be on the main road – and were supposed to buy a ticket off the nice old man for the northern half of the island.  So we did, and then Ben found us too.  And we got back on the boring actual trail.  Having lost lots of time.  On a trail which people were surprised we were doing at that time – as it should be too late to do so without getting trapped in the middle of nowhere in the dark.  Oh well.  Meet a sheep herder – he recommends a hostel.  Then we find the temple of the sun.  I’d like to watch the sunset from the temple of the sun – but it turns out there’s a big ugly hill between the temple of the sun and the sun.  Bad planning, incan-people.  We have a quick look around.  Can’t see any rock that looks like a puma.  Or any rock that looks like it was used as a table to create the sun and the moon.  There was one – but it seemed a bit small.  Maybe the big creator god fella made little ones then pumped them up into bigger ones.  Maybe.  Then we walked to the northern village.  I was walking slow now, because there was nobody behind us to find Pen if she rolled an ankle or something.  So I walked slow.  Ben walked fast.  Then it got dark.  We met a farmer in a field who recommended a hostel.  Then we got to the village, and let a small boy lead us to a hostel.  It was more expensive than we expected, and even more than the boy had told us – but we took it because we couldn’t be bothered argueing or searching for an alternative.  And it was still about 6 NZ$ each.  I took my smelly shoes off, and hid them under the head-end of Ben’s bed.  Upstairs, we had dinner.  The waitress seemed genuinely slightly mentally retarded.  Perhaps that’s why she liked me so much.  Leaned far too close/over me while taking my order.  We didn’t order much, because we figured we may barely have enough money to eat, and get back to the mainland.  Then, clever old Kruse asks the non-retarded employee whether we can pay with US dollars.  I hated asking this – but the affirmative answer meant we could order lots.  So we did.  Then Ben & Pen teased me about the retarded waitress sneaking into the room later and doing nasty things to poor old Kruse.  I got scared.  Then we went back to our room – and I checked the lock on the door.  But Ben reminded me about ‘tard cunning’, and I figured the staff probably had a spare key.  I got more scared.  But then I remembered my shoes under Ben’s bed, and I cheered up.

We got up on the 15 Sep – with no untoward events having happened overnight.  Sweet.  Up, and about.  Hardworking old Kruse once again goes out and about to research useful stuff, while Ben & Pen do useless things like showers and stuff.  One guy wants to charge us lots for a private boat to Isla del Luna (Island of the Moon).  Eventually, Ben & Pen are ready to leave also.  So we do.  Soon figure out that only way to Isla del Luna seems to be private boat.  Chap again tries to sell ride to us.  We don’t have enough cash.  Try to join in with another group – but the captain doesn’t want to offend the other chap by stealing his business.  So, eventually, we figure we can pay with combo of US dollars and bolivianos.  And this we do.  And we get on a small boat, and off we go.  Long ride to Isla del Luna.  Forty minutes there.  Nice enough Temple of the Virgins.  Then, back on to the boat, and another long ride back to Copacabana.  Again admire the flying fox possibilities.  Get back to the mainland, and check into the hostel.  Nice and cheap and separate rooms – for the first time since Ben arrived.  Then, we go walkabout.  Kruse again was the hero by going to do useful stuff.  Found a place that would give me money.  Then, lunch.  Then, beers on the waterfront.  Meant to go for a ride in the pedal-swans – but didn’t get around to it.  Watched the sunset though – and it was pretty.  Then, went to a restaurant.  I ordered drinks.  2 each of 7 cocktails.  And a red wine came with Pen’s meal for her.  We only got 6 of the cocktails – but they were enough for the meantime.  I walked Pen home, then returned to finish the drinks with Ben.  We chatted with a pair of people at the next table.  Bolivians with chinese heritage.  Chino-Bolivians, as it were.  17 year old boy, and his 25 year old cousin.  We played the question game.  (Truth or Dare – but with only the Truth option).  Going round in a circle, each person allowed to ask any question to anybody, and the truth must be told.  It only took one round before the inevitable.  I didn’t notice at the time, but the next time Ben pointed out that the 17 year old boy asked a large number of homosexually oriented questions towards me.  That may be because I had brain damage.  The toilet doorway was slightly lower than it should be.  I hit my head on the doorway at least five times.  Plus lots of cocktails.  Ben answered one question with the number “2″.  I found the answer so amusing that I wrote it on my hand.  Unfortunately, neither of us can remember what the question was.  Apparently, we couldn’t remember five minutes after the fact.  I have resolved to keep the number “2″ on my hand until I recall.  After the restaurant/bar turned it’s lights off on us, we finally left.  Back home – struggling to open front gate, and all the other things that go with arriving home late rather intoxicated.

So, rather hungover for the 16 Sep.  Pack our stuff, and head to breakfast.  Ben wants me to wear my New Zealand t-shirt which is exactly the same as his – so we can match, but I refuse on the grounds that it is gay.  Much breakfast, then go and get on a bus.  A minibus.  We sit at the back.  After a while, I swap seats with Ben.  So I can sit next to the window.  Then, I throw up out the window.  I feel a lot better after this.  After that, we have to get off the bus – while it is ferried across an inlet of the lake on a very basic ferry.  We get on a motorboat to take us across.  I have a beer, because I feel lots better now.  Ben doesn’t, because he is a prude.  Back onto the bus, and a few hours more until La Paz.  I make friends with a young girl sitting further up the bus.  We play peek-a-boo.  Luckily she’s too far away to smell me.  Near La Paz – the bus stops.  Our bags are on the roof.  I see somebody take them off.  I panic.  I run to the front, and try to get out.  Door is locked.  Pen watches out window – and thinks that they’ve been put in the ‘boot’ luggage compartment.  It has been raining a little, so it makes sense.  We drive off again, and I can’t see anybody running away with our bags – so hope that all is well.  We get to La Paz – and confirm that we still have all our stuff.  Sweet.  Walk to the hostel I stayed at last time – and get accommodation.  Then, walked through the Witches Market, and had a late lunch.  I had a beer, but Ben didn’t – because he is a prude.  Then Ben returned to the hostel because he is an internet nerd.  Pen & I went for a walk to buy chocolate for Pen and gay camomile tea for Ben and a bottle of whisky for Kruse.  Spend the evening in the hostel common room.  Booooooring.

17 Sep – we start panicing about how much time we have, and how to fit things into a schedule.  Around rugby world cup fixtures, of course.  Ben spends all day on the internet – because he is an internet nerd.  Pen & I go walking and shopping and stuff.  Find the market.  The largest market IN THE WORLD!  Thirty city blocks, they reckon.  Find bottles with labels which translate to “Drinkable alcohol – 96%”.  I shudder, and we walk on.  Walk past a reasonably aged child, standing casually on the sidewalk urinating onto the street.  Busy sidewalk, busy street.  Fair enough.  We walk on.  I find fireworks.  Strings of double-happys.  Big big single solid units of fireworks.  Awesome.  Pen won’t let me buy them.  We walk on.  Big market, lots of stuff.  Shoes called Kevin – not big enough for Pen’s giant man-feet.  We walk on.  Lunch, then return to hostel.  Ben is still on the internet.  He is a nerd.  Pen & I go for another walk.  Bus station – and do some research.  Past a man urinating on the wall.  We walk on.  Back to centre of the city.  Walk past a small local-type bar.  I have a hankering for a cerveza.  Pen won’t let me go in.  We walk on.  Then some shopping for trinkets.  And back to hostel.  Ben is still on internet.  Nerd.  I finally convince Ben that if he was to quit his job, or at least get an extra 10 days off work – it makes things much much easier.  He emails to ask.  We then take the more expensive but much easier option of booking a tour to the salt flats through our hostel.  Then – off to dinner.  Get loads of cash out, and head towards an awful gringo bar.  Because Ben is an awful gringo nerd.  Luckily, it’s closed.  So, instead, we head to an awful gringo curry restaurant owned by the same people.  We sit and drink and eat.  A mix up with ordering results in three bowls of rice, and no garlic naan.  Pen knew about the mix-up, but didn’t tell us.  Sometimes she is a real liability.  After a while, a couple of irish folk walk through the door.  They turn out to be the same irish folk as on our Inca Trail group.  They join us, and we chit chat.  Lots of complaining about some guys who’d done the mountain bykling down the most dangerous road IN THE WORLD with them.  Apparently lots of “RADICAL!” and “WICKED!” and similar comments.  We laugh and mock them together.  Mocking other people is fun.  Then, we return to the hostel.  Drink whiskey, and all three of us use internet together.  Romantic like.

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