On to Copacabana
This morning started about 5:30 am as I got ready for my next destination; Copacabana, Bolivia. It was a three hour bus ride before arriving at the Bolivian border armed with my visa and other necessary paperwork. We handed in our yellow fever vaccination certificate and our pre-filled out visa applications, proud of my organization and beaming with satisfaction at my own capability. When we handed over our $135 visa application fee, which,by the way, only applies to American citizens, things got a little tricky. The armed man in the military uniform scrutinized our every bill, not for authenticity, but for cleanliness. He would not take one of Max's 20's because of a minuscule tear at the top and was tempted to reject mine for a tiny pen mark. I've never had so much trouble giving someone money in my life. We had to go across the street and change our slashed bill for Bolivianos because we only had exact change for the visa application. We returned with our crispy clean currency and he ordered us next door to make copies of our visa application, yellow fever vaccination certificate and passport. This, by the way, was not free. We returned to get our visas stamped twice. Afterwards he sent us into another room where a different man sat, sounding like he was one cigarette away from emphysema and demanded five more dollars from us. Having read that they often try to get more money out of Americans, I inquired, politely, to know what the charge was for. My Spanish, being shaky at best was no match for his fluent phlegm so I gave in and gave him the five bucks. He stamped my passport another four times, pulling stamps from hidden drawers strategically located next to his gun holster, and sent us on our way. The bus driver stood outside our ride ushering us over because we were the last people they were waiting for. Apparently we were the only Americans on board and the only people to have to go through a twenty minute ordeal, which, ironically, never lead to any baggage search whatsoever. Seems as though they don't care what you bring into their country as long as your money isn't ripped. We boarded the bus and continued for another ten miles down the road unilateral we reached the center of Copacabana.
We had not yet booked a hostel but had read about one that looked nice so we told the cabbie to drop us off there. Unfortunately they were all booked so we settled for the next most convenient option, the hostel next door. It wasn't too shabby. Hot aqua, television, free tea, fruit and a complementary breakfast. We also had a peaceful view of the lake from our bedroom window.
We dropped off our baggage and set out to explore copacabana. It is a neat little town. We walked down to the lake and along the boardwalk.
There were a ton of people out, lots of places to rent paddle boats, kayaks, motorboat and even a place that rented horses to ride along the beach.
The boardwalk is lined with little restaurants, all specializing in fish from the lake and we could already tell that this was way more our style than Puno.
We decided to find a place that was broadcasting the world cup game and chill out. We found a teeny tiny English pub that was contingently showing the game in English. It was the first world cup game that I'd seen in English the whole trip.
I sipped on a mudslide first and a piña colada to top it all off. I figured that it would be a shame to leave Copacabana without slurping down a refreshing pina colada. There was no umbrella but I was still satisfied. After the game we meandered around town for a while, window shopped and gazed out onto the lake before returning to the English pub around dusk. We played some cards and warmed up with a peppermint schnapps hot chocolate. It was Christmas in my mouth. We were both getting pretty hungry so we wandered into this Mexican restaurant that was playing bob Marley that we could hear from the street. The ceilings were strung with plants, vines, and Christmas lights. There was no waitstaff in sight so after waiting about five minutes I went and grabbed a menu myself. It took us about ten minutes to peruse the menu and figure out what we wanted.... Still no waitstaff.. ANYWHERE! We waited about ten more minutes and when no one appeared our stomachs dragged us out of there. Next door was another restaurant whose menu looked delicious (in Peru and Bolivia the restaurants display their menus outside of the restaurant so you know what you are in for.. Pretty convenient I'd say) so we decided to wander in. Not a clear table in sight. We stood around awkwardly for a minute or two, chucked up the deuce and exited. 0 for 2. We hurried down the street and finally found a restaurant with a visible waitstaff and an open table. The peppered steak, fettuccine Alfredo and free salad bar was just what the doctor ordered. We grabbed some ice cream bars on the way home, watched a movie (In English YAY) and passed out.
Quote from my lovely mother: Diarrhea is a hereditary disease... it runs in your jeans.