As a brief explanation for my lack of recent posts, I’ve been staying on an island for the past two days, unsurprisingly with no Internet connection. So prepare for something of a blogging splurge: I’ve got access to an actual computer and its raining outside…
Despite my pledge to myself that i would take it easy on my last day in cusco; have a long lie in and let my legs recover; naturally I ended up out and about by half 8 or 9 and doing loads of walking anyway. Having said that, it was probably one of the best days I had in cusco.
I walked down to the bus station to buy my ticket to copacabana for that night (I always feel safer having the ticket in advance), and then went to San Pedro market for lunch, which – I know I’ve probably made this claim multiple times already – was the best market I’ve ever been to. It had literally everything you could want – fruit and veg, meat (always the grossest bit), dried food like pasta and rice, olives (bleurgh), dried fruit, chocolate, juice bars, handicrafts, and best of all, little local lunch bars. I’d been wanting to try eating at a market for a while but thus far had always been a bit too intimidated, so it was with a fair amount of excitement that I sat down at the first place I found that seemed popular but still had sitting space. And oh my god, was my excitement warranted. It was a typical 2-course Peruvian almuerzo (lunch): soup to start, followed by a (very generous) plate of rice, potatoes, onions, and possibly the best fried chicken I’ve ever eaten. Won’t be going back to KFC any time soon.
After that, weighed down by food, I wandered around some more, stopping to buy a custard apple from the fruit stall which I promptly ate despite my already bulging belly (it was deeeeelicious). At dinner I headed back to the hostel and got some soup from the place next door (for about 60p) and chatted with a German couple who I’d met earlier. It was an all round good day, and a great way to end my time in cusco.
By about 8 o’clock I was starting to get the pre departure nerves (my bus was set to leave at 10.30) so I packed up everything and collected my laundry (also done by the restaurant lady) and then ended up having quite a lot of time sitting and twiddling my thumbs.
Fortuitously, Maggy and Niko and Jonathon from the hostel were also headed for copacabana that night, so when the time came I hopped in a cab with them to the bus station, and they rather annoyingly got tickets for 15 soles less than I had – I guess that’s the price you pay for organisation, hmmf.
What followed was probably one of the more stressful travel experiences of my trip. It transpired that we had to pay for the privilege of using the bus terminal, and in doing so would validate our tickets – whereupon the lady at the counter declared there was something wrong with mine (I couldn’t figure out what at the time) , to which I heartily disagreed and eventually persuaded her to sticker it anyway. Turned out she had been right to question it – the daft woman who I’d bought the ticket off had only given me the second half of it, so technically I had no ticket for the journey from cusco to puno. Nightmare. Luckily after a slight seat mix-up, a nice luggage man figured out the problem and sorted it out for me, and got me the right ticket. It wasn’t the easiest ride in the world, feeling like at any moment someone was going to tell me my ticket was wrong and I had to pay again – but I did manage to get some sleep and in the end it was fine. However, more panic ensued when we arrived at Puno a full 40 minutes after my connecting bus was supposed to have left – though once again this was easily sorted (they just swapped the ticket for a later one), and soon enough I was headed for Bolivia at last, once again proving that everything works out all right in the end.
It was actually more than all right: I ended up on the same bus as Maggy and Niko so we ended up crossing the border together (which was an absolute breeze compared to Ecuador to Peru), and arriving in Copacabana as a group too. They had some friends already staying there so we spent an inordinate amount of time waiting for and trying to find them – there was no electricity across the whole town at this point which obviously was a massive pain. Still though, it was a beautiful day and copacabana seemed like a nice, albeit small, place, and we’d arrived in the middle of a festival – apparently the day of the sea – so there was music and crowds of people that I was more than happy to sit and watch.
I decided that I would stay a night in copacabana in the end – my initial plan being to go straight to the island for a couple of nights – so when we eventually found Jose and Ellie (aka Paloma, long story) and Philip, I went to the hostel with them and we hung out for a bit. It turned out to be a really good decision in the end: once I got bored of sitting around in the room I went out to wander round by myself for a while and ended up having a drink with some people who I’d asked earlier where they were staying. I would have had a very different (and probably less awesome) few days had I not stumbled across this lot: Olivia and Josh, a couple from Manchester, and Hans and Tim who they were travelling with, from Germany.
I discovered that they were planning on heading to the Isla del sol as well the next day, and we ended up buying boat tickets as a group after we left the cafe. We said goodbye there and I got some dinner (3 empanadas to myself, oops… but they were just so good) and then headed back to the hostel, and later on bought some supplies for the trip to the island with Ellie (who was also headed there the next day with José) because all sources suggested that it was excessively expensive there. We ended up going out to a reggae bar afterwards to watch the football (Chile vs. Peru – Jose is Chilean) with the boys, and it was a seriously cool place – graffiti scrawled all up the walls and on the ceiling, and of course a constant stream of reggae music streamed through the speakers.
It ended up being a pretty great day in the end, and I was already appreciating the truth in the rumours about how incredibly cheap Bolivia is as a country. I couldn’t wait for the next day to arrive, and – not to give too much away – I was right to be excited!