Day 183 – Puno, PE to Copacabana, BO

Day 183 – Puno, PE to Copacabana, BO 02/20/11 Mileage: 90

The rain was coming down in buckets when I woke up so I lingered in my room and watched some CNN…in english…a rare treat of sorts. The rain let up around 11 so I packed the bike and set out for the Bolivian border. I took the road that followed the west shore of Lake Titicaca which was scenic and a nice ride.

They say it is the highest navigable lake in the world…whatever that means…but I can say that it is for sure BIG and also high at 12,500 feet above sea level. I was started to run low on fuel and I only had 16 soles left…enough for just over gallon of gogo juice. The gas station I found would not take US dollars, so I got my 16 soles worth and continued towards Bolivia. I calculated that I had just enough fuel to get to Copacabana just beyond the Bolivian border….so I pressed on.

Passing through Yunguyo, PE

I arrived at the Peruvian side of the border and it was the usual song and dance. I was told to first go to the National Police office, but they told me to go to the aduana (customs) office first, where I was told to go to immigration first, where I was told I had to go to a different National Police office first! WTF…is this their first time doing this…don’t they do this sh*t every day for a living?! So off to National Police office #2 where the officer applied a stamp to my tourist card, then back to immigration where the official applied his stamp. Now it was back to customs to cancel the bike import permit, which he did with his stamp. I asked if I could keep a copy, but he said no and angrily rattled of some spanish I didn’t understand. Okeee, now it was back to National Police office #1 where they in fact asked for a copy of my canceled bike permit…the one the customs official wouldn’t give me. I went back to the customs office and explained that the National Police needed a copy of the canceled permit, but he insisted they did not. Alrighty…back to the National Police where I explained as best I could that customs has my canceled permit and he says the you the police don’t need it. Well, they insisted they did need it, so it was time to do what I always did in my professional life whenever people started playing the finger pointing game…call a conference. I went back and asked the customs official to accompany me to the National Police office to settle the disagreement. So after a few minutes of official cock fighting, the police got the canceled permit…after all, they do have the guns! That completed, the police let me pass (but not before asking for a tip, which they did not get) and I was on to the Bolivian border post where, I have to essentially do the whole process in reverse. Ahhh, the joy of border crossings. The process in Bolivia was mercifully straight forward…immigration, customs, national police…not too bad. The only bummer is that U.S. citizens are charged $135 for a visa to enter, making this the most expensive country to enter yet. The fee however is in reciprocity for the fee the U.S. started charging Bolivian citizens to enter the U. S…so you can’t blame them. So, with all the border formalities complete, I was set loose in Bolivia…country number 14! I decided to hold up in Copacabana just beyond the border as I liked the vibe and the town is situated in a nice setting right on the shores of Lake Titicaca. I found a room at the Hotel Ambassador where there were many stickers on the front door from other overland travelers.

The Hotel Ambassador

My room at the Ambassador…not to bad…

Copacabana, Bolivia on the shores of Lake Titicaca…

I found dinner at a cool little joint called Nimbo which has unique decor and nice pooch guarding the entrance.

Tomorrow it’s off to La Paz….

Day 182 – Cusco, PE to Puno, PE

Day 182 – Cusco, PE to Puno, PE      02/19/11      Mileage: 244

After running some last minute errands, I gassed up the KLR and headed south for Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca. With my late start I was more than likely going to be riding the last stretch in the dark, but the road was paved the entire way and hopefully I could make up some time. Well, you know that wasn’t going to happen and in the back of my mind I knew it too. It’s just impossible to go any kind of distance down here compared to what is possible in the US in a day…where 500+ miles, even on a KLR, is easy to do. There were some stretches of high plains where the road was arrow straight and I could open it up. But soon, the ever present rain started and I had to back off the pace a bit. With the cold and rain, I just wasn’t compelled to take many pictures, in fact I didn’t take any. All told I had to roll the last 2 hours in the dark and rain…a calculated risk for sure. After a few attempts, I finally found a room with secure parking at the Hotel Arequipa. Tomorrow, it’s on to Bolivia, country number 14…

Token picture: I warm little pizza joint with an authentic brick oven….nothing washes away 240 cold, wet miles like hot pizza and cold beer…   😉

Day 179 – 181 – Cusco, PE

Day 179 – 181 – Cusco, PE      02/16-18/11      Mileage: Local miles

The last three days were workdays of sorts as I had a laundry list of things to do…including actual laundry which I dropped off first thing. I pulled the liner out of my helmet and washed it too as I couldn’t bear to put it on again….it was like putting your head in a sweatsock after a football game.

Bit of a demonstration going on in front of the Cusco municipal building.

The bike getting a much needed bath….

The bike needed some routine maintenance so I did that in between rain showers. I also spent several hours updating the blog and returning email after a few days off the grid in Machu Picchu. Since I’m sending some souvenirs home, it was also a good time to sort through my gear and send home things that I no longer need. Thursday night I met Geneviève, the gal from Switzerland I met in Aguas Calientes a few days ago, for what ended up being a late night of drinking and smoking a hookah.

 Today I paid the price with a hangover that lasted all day. Tomorrow, it’s back on the road south towards Bolivia.