Tuesday, June 9, 2015

6/7/15: Copacabana

It’s been another long day! Including today, I’ve actually woken up earlier than 7 am on 7 of the past 8 days, and that one anomaly I woke up at 9:30. This is severe change from what I am used to, and is quite a struggle. I think I am getting used to it – I don’t really need an alarm anymore to wake up at 6 am, but I wish I could just get more sleep. Sigh.

I was a little nervous about the trip today because I have never crossed a border by land and did not have anything booked before I got here. I had no Bolivianos (the Bolivian currency) and I would not be able to use my SIM card, and I have heard that wifi and internet are just not very good in general in Bolivia, at least as compared to Peru. Luckily, most things worked out okay. The taxi came to bring me to the bus station (where I had to borrow 1.5 soles from a taxi mate due again to no cash – ugh), and then I successfully got on the bus to Copacabana. For some reason, the bus that was scheduled to leave at 7 am did not leave until 8 am, which was annoying. There was a young couple (younger than me) from Colombia sitting in the seats across the aisle from me that kept making out and putting their hands up each other’s’ shirts and I just – UGH. THIS IS PUBLIC.

Anyways, the border crossing was actually super chill and I’m pretty sure you could get around it very easily. There are two stations – one for each country. You go to the Peruvian office to turn in your tourist card and get your passport stamped, and then walk across the border to get your Bolivian tourist card and passport stamped. Technically, this all happens in buildings off the main road so you could pretty easily just not go to either one – not that I recommend it.

Upon arrival to Copacabana, I was approached by a lady waiting at the bus station advertising her hostel. She told me it was about a block from the main square and she could let me stay for 60 Bolivianos for two nights. I bargained it down to 55 which is the cheapest that I have heard from people who have been here before (yay!). She also promised hot water showers and wifi, but I haven’t seen either one of those. Oh well, you get what you pay for (the exchange rate with dollars is about 6.91, so I’m paying about $3.98 to stay here per night. LOL the electricity and bathroom access pretty much covers that cost). I’m actually staying in a nice room with just three beds – and the other two are empty. It’s quite nice, actually. The bed is comfortable and the blankets seem thick enough. It’s a little far from the beach and port for the Lake Titicaca islands from this town, but it’s okay.

Copacabana is small enough that you can just walk around and see the whole thing. There are two little “main squares” that I saw, the biggest one is connected to this rather majestic church.

I then went to withdraw from Bolivianos from the ATM, which actually doesn’t charge an ATM fee! Even though I get any and all reimbursed by Schwab, I still have to wait until the end of the month, so this no-fee thing is a pleasant surprise! I think I’m going to take out a little extra cash to make it easier on myself down the line.

I then went down to the beach – the road there is lined with touristic restaurants, travel agencies, and souvenir shops. At the port, the Lake is beautiful!

I then went to the Museo del Poncho – a cute little textiles museum that outlines the different designs of ponchos and clothes from the Lake Titicaca populations. They are overall gorgeous, but some of the full outfits were awesome! Flashy at times, and just enough color at others.

The only other real attraction in Copacabana is called Cerro Calvario – it’s a small collection of crosses at the top of the hill that overlooks the town. It took about 45 minutes to walk up, but the point had some beautiful religious art and even better views of Lake Titicaca. Seriously, it is breathtaking from there!

I had some dinner (really delicious quinoa soup, fried chicken/rice/fries, and chocolate syrup bananas) for just 20 Bolivianos, or about $2.89. This pricing this is brilliant. If I ever run out of money I just need to move to Bolivia for a couple months and all will be well!

Last thing today – beautiful sunset!

Tomorrow’s itinerary: boat to Isla del Sol from the north, walking to the south, and then back. Apparently there are some great ruins on the island, some native/indigenous cultures, and a pretty museum. Unfortunately, I’m looking at about 4 hours of walking and about 5-6 hours on my feet, so hopefully it will not be too bad. On the bright side, I’m not feeling so sore today!

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