As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve cyber-met a handful of other travelers (through conversations on this blog!) who have also been planning their trip to South America and wanted some travel advice. One such traveler mentioned that she would be in Lima on the 17th of February, so I said that I’d try and see if we could meet up on that day.
Since the buses out have been such a crap shoot, I was pretty tired of attempting to take the long (and dangerous) overnight buses. Barely missing a deadly bus accident by a day on my way to Tupiza was enough for me. I took a TAM flight from Sucre to La Paz and spent the day trying to recover from a really bad flu or cold – or whatever. It was so bad that my coughs were non-stop and guttural, as if my body was trying to turn my lungs inside-out each time I coughed. I almost lost my voice completely. While I had high hopes of doing the “World’s Most Dangerous Road” trip through the gorgeous Yungas, I knew that I had to take care of my health if I wanted to enjoy the rest of my trip in South America.
I spent most of my day in La Paz buying gorgeous scarves, hats, jewelry, and other Bolivian goods for all my friends back at home. At night I attempted yet again to try the Asian food out here and settled on a sushi joint on Sagarnaga St. (it was “Valentines Day”, why not?) It was HORRIBLE.
FIRST of all, trout was never meant to be eaten raw – it tasted like ass! SECOND of all, they gave me TERIYAKI sauce and called it soy sauce – and then lied about it! I cooked Chinese food in Cochabamba folks, I KNOW y’all have soy sauce in the grocery stores out here! THIRD, they didn’t season the fish. Just because it’s sushi doesn’t mean that it should be without any salt or a garnish or what not. So disgusting. Needless to say, I didn’t eat more than a few rolls of sushi and paid for my meal to avoid a fight over the bill.
On the positive side, I’ve found that I really enjoyed my stay at Hostel Copacabana up on Illampu St. Free internet, somewhat warm, some hot showers, decent breakfast options, and clean, simple rooms. And it’s a decent price for a single room (65 bolivianos).
The next day, I took a bus from La Paz to Copacabana – and then another connecting bus to Puno so I could take a flight from Juliaca to Lima (cheaper than taking an international flight in South America, which are all EXPENSIVE).
The journey started off bad yet again. By the end of the day, I found myself cursing at a lot of people in my head.
What happend was: the tour company I bought my ticket from in La Paz didn’t alert the bus company (Titicaca Tours), so the bus didn’t pick me up from my hostel the morning I had to leave. I had to rush and take a cab so that I could try and find my bus at La Paz’s central bus terminal. However, when I finally got on the bus, the lady who tried to help me took away my connecting ticket (from Copacabana to Puno), which meant that when I got to Copa, I couldn’t prove that I had bought a ticket – and had to pay AGAIN for another ticket from Copa to Puno.
Lesson Learned: double check everything about your bus ride to make sure you can actually get to your destination smoothly!
I was still very sick and could barely talk (and hella tired of wack bus companies) at this point. Not a very happy camper at all. However I had to suck it up and just get to Puno so I wouldn’t miss my flight the next day.
Thankfully, Puno was still really beautiful (and cold), just like it was before.
Highlights of my 2nd time in Puno:
1. Ekekos Restaurant Pizza – I LOVE this place. I’ve only eaten here twice, but the food was some of the best I’ve ever had (during my time in both Bolivia and Peru). I highly recommend the guinea pig (cuy) and the perjerrey (fish) dish:
2. Kamizaraky Rock Pub – My bar staff homies remembered me when I returned to visit them at the bar! Love these guys and the vibe of this bar. Pizza ovens, many tables, a MP3 DJ, and lots of good times.
3. Wandering the city of Puno – This place reminds me of a small town San Francisco. I love the fresh, crisp and cold air out there. It looks and feels like Christmas night.
When I woke up the next morning and took a shared van to the airport, I took a photo of the gorgeous city by Lake Titicaca:
My flight to Juliaca also had a bit of a bump – I was really tired when I booked my flight online the night before and accidentally reserved it for MARCH 16th, not February 16th. My bad. Had to pay for a flight change and get the ticket before the airlines computers shut down before boarding!
When I finally arrived at Lima’s airport terminal (thank jeezus), I had to say I was in a bit of a shock. Most tourists (especially the short trip kind) start in Lima, so there was a lot of English speaking and newbie tourists (a lot of older folks with their older children) all over the place.
I exited the terminal and I went straight over to a taxi driver (a legit one – to avoid potential scams and hassles) and took the long ride to my hostel, Flying Dog Hostel in the heart of touristy Miraflores. The driver was dope, albeit very Christian. We had a great conversation about Peruvian history and politics, and the state of the country/government today. What a sweetheart.
Lima was like NOTHING I’d ever seen in both Peru and Bolivia. This place looks like Westside Los Angeles! Santa Monica, even. American chain restaurants and stores were all over the place. I didn’t know Payless Shoe Source had international stores.
At the central park (it’s called Kennedy Park!), tourists and locals gathered around to eat ice cream and watch musical performances or cultural dances (from other countries).
Most of the restaurants around my hostel were either American restaurants or bad tourist food. I was overwhelmed. I checked in to my four person dorm room at Flying Dog, tried to reach my cyber-friend Angela to see if we could link up, and got settled in. Just 5 days left for my trip! Despite the craziness and my sickness, I wasn’t ready to go home. Yet.