The floating Islands and Bolivian borders!
23.03.2012 - 25.03.2012
I now know that Cusco has two bus stations !!! One for freight and the other for buses. Seems the taxi driver thought we wanted to post ourselves Puno so once we found the right bus station we got the bus from Cusco to Puno. This was the first day bus we've got and probably the last. the day buses aren't as nice as the night ones but they're definatley alot more interesting. I've got used to people getting on the bus and selling jelly, popcorn and non-descript chunks of meat on sticks and other tasty snacks but this bus went the whole hog when we got a lady with a bag of roast lamb the size of her and a meat cleaver. you tell her how much you want to spend and she hacks away at the bag and gives you a chunk as well as covering the rest of the bus in little chunks of meat, at one point i thought she was going to serve me up!!!! tasty though...
Puno is a bit of a weird one where as in every other city we've just got a taxi to the Plaza del Armas, Punos is dead!!! everything is off the main square and they have like a mini Plaza del Armas where everything is hidden???? there is one street with all the bars and resturants with the hostles very tackfully hidden down back streets, but it litteraly is just one street everything else is resedential. at the bus station a woman called betty had very kindly given us a hefty discount of a hostel we just didn't know it yet. after looking round for a hostel we stumbled on the one she had offered us called 'Hostel Maison' we then realised we had been given a 30 soles discount EACH!! the owners didnt seem too happy but still gave us the room at the price after we took the key and ran!!!
Seeing what the town had to offer we quickly tried to book the floating islands and our bus out of there but as it happend it was harder than we thought. we ended up getting dinner at one the the 20 soles meal del dias and having a few drinks in a reggae bar, can't remember the name but its on the main strip. Worth going to if you're at a loose end the grafiti on the wall is wicked, the beer is cheap and its all done in black light....... most of the tours to the islands leave at 9 in the morning so we just walked down to the harbour and booked one from a small tour operater on the front. It's better than booking in town because they charge you for a taxi and it's only a five minute walk. Make sure when you book they give you the entrance to the islands in your price, we paid 15 soles each for the tour including the floating islands ticket, in town they try to charge 25 and then you have to pay entrance at the islands, RIP OFF! Tourist tax is a joke!!!!! The islands are cool though, they explain how they make them and how they live and give you a bit of history but after that its just becomes a bit of a tourist trap. They sell the same stuff you can get in puno just 3 times more expensive, and then moan when you won't buy anything!! There is an optional extra of getting on the the supposidly traditional straw boats accros to the market islands but after seeing that the one they were putting us on was simply plastic bottles wrapped in straw we decided against it. They charge an extra 8 soles for this pleasure and then tell you they have no change...... and then bring a power boat over to drag it back, really traditional!! Apart from the feeling that if there were no tourists they wouldn't even have them any more its well worth going to see, as the village itself is huge and really impressive. Even if you only see it from the boat and the views are stunning !!!
We lucked out being there on a saturday aswell, as they shut the whole town down and turn it into a massive market. You can get everything from puppies to car parts, literaly!! Even managed to find a litre bottle of jack daniels for £13, steal!! That night we ended up going to a chifa rersturant and learnt that if you order chicken soup with rice it means you get chicken rice and chicken soup... We did wonder why the waitress asked us if we were sure we wanted two lots, she then stood back and gloated as we struggled to even finish one dish!
Note to self, Buses don't run on sundays!!!! They run like a ghost service so we ended up at the station for about 5 hours waiting for the bus to go to Bolivia. The only other option is to get colectivos (local mini buses) to the boarder but then you have to get another from the boarder to Cocacabana and apparently they don't always run so you can end up stuck!!! We met two Aussies called Dom and Jess who were in the same situation as us. They thought they were leaving earlier on a different bus but turns out the two companies just sell the same bus at different prices, then combine them!
The boarder crossing is probably the funniest we've done yet. They get you off the bus, make you pay for the privalage of leaving the country and then make you walk over the boarder, shouting at you if you try to take a photo!!! Turns out that visa thingy they give you when you arrive in Peru is important after all, if you're smart enough to hide it in such a good place you can't find it you have to pay 5 soles to each official working to get a new one. Luckly there were only three people working that day! If you do lose it though just do it at the border, as if you do it in town they charge you a straight up 50. Once you walk accross you go into another shed to get your Bolivian visa, Dom one of the Aussies we met on the bus had a Maltise passport but according to the officals in Bolivia, its NOT part of the EU even though the passport says European Union on the front and he got charged 150 Bolivianos to enter.... sucker punch!!!!
loz x x x x