Thursday, August 29, 2013

Vamos a Peru!

Last night was fun. We went out to eat and I finally found a place that served tacos! The one waitress at the restaurant was the hardest worker I had ever seen. She was running from table to kitchen, and also to her baby who she was caring for while working. She was amazing. The restaurant was full because it was one of two restaurants with heat, and it had live music. First there was a young boy, maybe 10, playing a wind instrument of sorts and singing about being in love with two women, one fat and one skinny. Then, a man who played traditional Latin American songs on a small string instrument. After the restaurant, we attempted to watch a movie on my iPad, but I fell asleep 5 minutes in. Ali was more successful and watched the entire thing.

We woke up early this morning to store our things at the hostel and to get on a boat to Islas del Sol. In the morning, the island was absolutely freezing. We wore double pairs of pants, double gloves, two sweaters, a coat, and an alpaca scarf! The boat ride took about an hour and a half, and though it was pretty smooth, Ali wasn't feeling great. Once we reached land, we quickly found a guide who could lead us on a trail to the ruins. The trail was one of the most beautiful that I have been on. Not only did it offer views of snow capped mountains and cliffs, but also of the lake and the coast. The hike was also at the highest altitude I have ever hiked - 4,000 meters. We hiked for a few hours,  emptied my camera battery, and headed back to the boat for a ride to he south side of the mountain.

On the walk up, Ali met some Argentinians. They were the first Argentinians that we have seen on the trip, and Ali found out why. Apparently, the government imposed a new law that restricts the amount of money you can withdraw from your own bank account. We aren't sure why this is a law, but it makes it very hard for anyone to travel. Fortunately, the people we met had saved money in a variety of locations (some illegal) and that's why they were able to go to Bolivia.

On the walk back to the boat, we met super friendly people from Spain. Ali walked off with the guy, so his wife and I attempted conversation even though she didn't speak a word of English. It wasn't an amazing conversation, but we did cover all of the places we have travelled, what we are each doing in Bolivia/Peru, and the foods we like and don't like. Our new friends also gave us advice for the Machu Picchu train - on the way up, sit on the left side of the train. On the way down, sit on the right.

Once we reached the second island, we were told that we had to pay to enter. I misunderstood and paid 45Bs when the cost was really only 5. Luckily, I was able to figure this out in time, and the worker returned the money to me. That second island was a bit crazy. There were no guides, and we weren't sure where to go, so we picked a random path up. This happened to be the donkey commuter lane. All of the sudden, Ali blurts out, "Tracy, look!!" I look up from the trail and I am nearly face to face with three donkeys being herded down the path. This was not a particularly wide path, so I just pretended I was I visible and everything worked out fine.

Also strange, we went to a restaurant/hostel that overlooked the lake to get some tea and food. The woman who worked there, however, was not at all interested in cooking anything, and suggested a number of other restaurants we could try, even after we had placed our orders. I have never seen someone not want customers so badly.

Sadly, our time on the islands had to end, and we headed for our bus to Cusco. Not only were we the only people seated in the cama (full bed) section, but the bus actually left on time!

And the border was a breeze! At first. Nothing goes perfectly in South America. After we boarded the bus once again in Peru, we found out the Peruvian immigration office had stamped our passports with the wrong date. We had to walk back to the office and get a new stamp. This wasn't a big deal at all, it's just funny how there's always something that goes wrong to make the experience more interesting.

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