E-mail Update - 2009-06-14

The first few days in Bolivia

Hey Everyone,

Just going to get right into it...Becky and I left from Madison at the bus station in the biggest sendoff I have been part of. There was my mom, Becky�s mom and sister and our friend Julie (who met us at the bus station). After several pictures we said goodbye and boarded the bus (PICTURE - Bus_Sendoff). It was interesting in the sense that the bus was full, we didn�t even sit together. It was the first time I have seen one of those buses full, must have had something to do with being Memorial Day. On the bus ride down Becky and I talked a lot about things that would/could happen on the road and were both excited to be traveling together and to see what would happen on our trip.

Since Becky didn�t have much experience traveling we decided to have her do all the talking at the airport and she did a good job. We had extra time before we left so we were able to get one last meal in the states, I chose Chinese food and Becky chose ice cream! While we were waiting at our first gate we felt a bit uneasy because there weren�t many people. other than us. Our fears were confirmed when they announced the gate change, but we still had enough time and made our flight. Nothing much happened on the first flight to Miami and we were also successful making our second flight to La Paz. Again nothing much happened there except having some bad airline food, way to go American Airlines!

Either way after getting to Bolivia we had our first big expenditure which was the $135 that we each had to pay for our Bolivian visas. It sucks because only people from the US have to pay this fee, it is free for everyone else, but I am sure we probably charge people from Bolivia just as much so whatever. It took a long time to get all the paperwork done, but thankfully when we finally got through it our big bags were still at the luggage area. After getting some money out of the ATM (which also tested that our ATM cards worked) we went out and got a Taxi to where we have reserved our rooms in La Paz (Wild Rovers Backpackers). The taxi ride there was quite memorable because you go down into La Paz from a higher elevation and it is beautiful. It was also memorable because we did the 40 minute ride in like 20 minutes because our taxi driver seemed to be in some kind of race against time. Either way we made it to our hostal and went to get our rooms only to find out that they decided not to keep our reservation...yeah so much for the concept of reserving something in Bolivia. Either way after looking around and not finding much for places to stay we decided that we were going to go someplace and skip La Paz for now.

We ended up deciding on Copacabana, which is close to the border of Peru and is Northwest of La Paz. After getting a taxi to the bus area we got our tickets and boarded the 4 hour bus there (PICTURE - Becky�s First SA Bus). The bus ride there was eventful as Becky was a little sick (which we solved with food) and I almost got left behind at one point. I almost got left behind when I got off the bus when it stopped in this town. I figured it was a food/bathroom break, but instead it was where the bus got on a ferry to cross. Anyway I got back just in time and jumped on the ferry as it was starting to cross the lake (with the bus on it). Eventually we made it to Copacabana which was nice after the long bus-flight-flight-bus transit day we had spent. We stayed at the hostel I stayed at when I had been to Copacabana in 2006. It was nice to unwind, get some food, tell people from home we had made it, get showers and relax. We also walked the markets and bought this sweet popcorn stuff which they had in huge amounts (PICTURE - Becky & Sweet Popcorn). After that we called it a night and got some much needed sleep.

On the next day, May 27, we didn�t feel up to doing the full day trail due to the fact that we were still trying to acclimitize (we were at over 10,000 feet of altitude). So we walked up a hill behind the city called Ni�o Calvario to see an Inca gate called Horca del Inca and get nice views of the city. Due to the acclimitization this was quite a tough walk, but with several stops on the way we were able to complete it and it was worth it. After that we got some lunch and that night we watched the beautiful sunset over lake Titicaca even though we got there a little late (PICTURE - Lake Titicaca Sunset). That night we also reserved our trip for the next day to Isla del Sol, which is near Copacabana on Lake Titicaca.

We cut it a little close on time and had to get things packed quick, but made the boat in part because we had pretty much got ready the night before. After rushing there it was weird because we had to endure the tortuously slow 2 hour ride to the northern part of the island (city of Cha�llpampa). The distance if done in a boat going any speed could have you there in 15 or 20 minutes, but going 2-3 miles per hour makes it a long trip. Once there we hiked to the Chincana ruins which were in a beautiful location and were fun to explore (PICTURE - Isla del Sol). After that we did the 3 hour hike to the southern part of the island, which is a really beautiful hike. The lake is so blue and with all the different colors of the rocks on the island it makes for some great sightseeing. It was a little up and down, with the up being tough again due to still trying to adjust to the altitude, but we made it in time for our boat and were even able to have jello and a combination of sausage and fries with mayonaise on them! After that we boarded the boat and headed back to the mainland. On route we stopped at one of the most obvious tourist traps I have ever seen, which is a little floating reed island. There were at least 50 people on the boat and only 5 people got off to see it, even though it only cost about 40 cents US! Either way after the slow boat ride back we got some supper and called it a night.

Well that is all the time I have for this update. In future updates I will talk about our time trying to get to the Salt flats in Uyuni (which didn�t happen), our time hiking the El Choro Trek, and what we just finished, our time in the Amazon Rain Forest (which was amazing!).

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Love & Peace!