Bolivia is a landlocked country and has been through quite a few battles of which it has lost most. It lost it’s costal connection to Chile in late 1800 (Chile won the rich in mineral Atacama desert from them), then Brazil caimed an area rich in rubber and if that wasn’t enough, Parauay then annexd a large area of arid desert thinking there may be oil there but until today none as been found.
From what we have seen so far, the majority of Bolivians live a very simple life. The women all dress the same and wear multilayered skirts and top hats. It sems that most live in small mud huts and li off subsistance farmng and herd llamas. When you look at the locals it looks as if life is hard. For the first time in South America we have come across beggars which are mostly elderly women who walk into restaurants asking for food and money.
The local food is very basic and it seems as if lunch is the main meal. There is usually a soup (watered down chicken broth) followed by a meal of chicken, rice and vegetables.
Initially we thought the Bolivians were much more friendly than the Peruvians when we crossed the border. We only had to go to about five different counters to collect stamps and smile, and at the last counter we asked if all was correct and we got a very big smile and a handshake from the customs official and off we went….. only to be stopped by the Bolivian police in a road block just outside of Copacabana.
The conversation went something like this in Spanish and I will use my very limited Spanish to translate…….
Police officer: Papers
Andrew: Very polite….. hands over Bolivian papers, international drivers licence and bike papers
Police officer: Where is the police stamp on the back of Bolivian papers
Andrew: We asked if everything was in order and they said they were and we could go
Police officer: Huff Puff, calls border post on cell phone…… tells us to turn around and head back to the border
So back to the border post we go and we find the “police department” which is an unmarked door.
Andrew goes in while I wait with all our belongings.
After about 25 minutes Andrew comes out with the “stamp” on the back of a piece of paper, not looking happy. This was the first time we had been asked for a tip or others would call it a bribe. The police officer stamped the paper and then made the universal sign for money. Andrew then said no and eventually gave him the equivalent of one rand but it still didn’t feel good.
Then we headed back to the police road block outside Copacabana only to find that they had left already. What a start to Bolivia.
Copacabana is on the shore of Lake Titicaca which is the largest high altitude lake in the world. Being so high it is also very cold….. something we are again getting used to unfortunately. In my imagination Copacabana was a place where there would be gorgeous people frolicking in swimwear…..sadly this was not the case. It was beautiful but all the people where covered up and there was definitely no swimming in the water.
We found a lovely hotel and the bike got to sleep in the lobby… which was a good thing otherwise I am sure some part of her would have frozen. The view from our room was also spectacular. The ony thing that I was dissapointed by was the fact that we didn’t get eggs for breakfast. What I would do for real yellow South African eggs….
We took a day trip to the Island of the Sun and the Island of the Moon. These Islands had a lot of significance in the Inca culture as they believed that the Sun god was born on the Island of the Sun. They also had a nunnery on the Island of the Moon and special women were selected to go and live there is isolation (women only….. can only imagine what that was like).
Andy didn’t really enjoy the day as it was a very long slow boat trip. I had a great time as I could jabber away to him without him escaping 😉