Copacabana, Bolivia

This post explains how NOT to spend your first day in Bolivia.

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Well we made it to Copacabana & Lake Titicaca. Which of course called for a celebratory walk\climb (seriously, be prepared to use all your limbs to climb to the top) up a mountain to get the best views of the town. The views were a hit, all the rubbish not so much. The mountain ascent and descent then called for some victory drinks, which turned into 10 cocktails. Like 2 drunk tourist we then ran back to our hostel to escape the cold. Only to fall asleep for 3 hours which was just enough time to make sure every restaurant and shop in Copacabana was closed. Be smart, don’t do this.

We couldn’t sleep the entire night due to hunger and hangover. But here are some photos of the view from the mountain top and our hobbit house we’ve spent the last 2 nights in!

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#Travellerswhothink

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I also would like to shout out to hostel Joshua that we stayed in. A cosy place with AMAZING vegetarian & vegan food. Great service, clean and well priced ( $15 AUS pp, in a private room and with breakfast included!)

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The Hobbit house

Peru to Bolivia

We left Huacachina on an Econociva bus that we paid 80 soles for.

Preparing for the worst, as we know how bad they can be, they still managed to surprise us by being 2 hours late. This would be ok if we didn’t spend an afternoon on a Pisco tour which only added to our confusion at the bus station.

The ride itself was 13.5 hours of pure joy (not really), we slept and binged watched Netflix. Finally in Arequipa (again) we bought our ticket to Puno and had 2 hours to kill so we went for açai bowls in the city centre.

We got our ticket for 15 soles at the station. Online & in tourist shops they sell them for 120 soles, talk about a bargain.

Bus number 2, a day time bus of 6 hours, piece of cake we thought. Not so much. Being awake is so much worse and the amount of times you need to visit the half dingy toilet is gross. But yet again we made it. We stayed the night in Puno but decided to skip any tours as we will be doing them on the Bolivian side. We managed to get another 15 soles bus ticket over the border to Bolivia (purchased at the station). The border was quick and easy. Thanks to our Swedish and Australian passports we didn’t needed to pay a thing and we also didn’t need a visa. A small tip is to bring a copy of your passport.

This now means we have left Peru and arrived in Bolivia!

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We are also back on high altitude. You would think we would be used to it by now. Let’s just say that we are not.

 

Huacachina, Ica Peru

Teddy was devastated when he missed the La Guajira desert on Colombia’s north coast. So of course when we heard about Huacachina in Peru, heading there was a no brainer. Huacachina sits 3 hours south of Lima and about 15 minutes from the desert city if Ica. Its easily one of the coolest places we have been. Nestled between some of the worlds biggest sand dunes (the biggest being in neighbouring city Nazca) Huacachina is a desert oasis like no other.

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Spend the day paddling a boat on the lake, soaking up sunshine on sand dunes or walking up the behemoths to sand board and ski back down again. Everything about huachina is great, our hostel was the Desert Nights Hostel, which had the feel of a Saudi Arabian desert palace.

We spent our first day tanning in the desert sun. Drinking on our rooftop bar and eating delicious desert food. We wanted to ride the buggies across the desert sands for the sunset, unfortunately that week an accident occurred and all motorsports in the area were shut down. ATV tours were still operating in the desert next door but we wouldn’t recommend. It was less ‘tour’ and more ‘drive around in a circle for 40 minutes’.

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Day 2 had us on a wine and Pisco bodega tour. we definitely recommend, the bodega street is like something out of an old western and you get great value for money. We felt the Pisco three shots in and they just kept coming our way. If you like your Pisco strong and wine super sweet, then Ica is the place for you.

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That evening we hiked up the biggest dune we could find for the sunset, finished a bottle of Lucuma Pisco and a few beers at the top and boarded down in terrible fashion.

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If you like sand between your toes (and everywhere else you can think off) you will love this little place.

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Costs:-

ATV Tour: 60 Soles p/p (Price possibility raised due to lack of buggies)
Pisco Tour: 25 Soles p/p
Board rental: 5-8 Soles per board (We did meet someone selling for 35)
Hostel: 25 Soles p/p

Arequipa, Peru

I know, I know, it’s been a while. Sometimes that happens when you spend the majority of your time on busses.

So what’s been happening (Other than the copies amounts of music and Netflix we have gone through on our bus trips)?

We left Puerto Maldonado for Arequipa on the 7th of August, thinking we had an 8 hour bus ahead. It wasn’t, the bus was 15.5 hours long and very uncomfortable. But we made it, as always. We got off the bus to sunshine and 25 degrees, do I need to tell you this made us very happy. No, no we Don’t. Naturally this required a rooftop hostel, we chose World Backpackers.

Arequipa is the Medellin Peru, except the snow stays on mountain tops here, not little bags. What we mean is that it is the city of eternal spring in Peru. Weather is amazing for 11 months of the year. The Spanish influence on the architecture is also the strongest in Peru. We recommend staying here for at least 2 nights.

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View from the hostel roof

We celebrated my birthday (9th-11th) in a Airbnb that Teddy had organised. A beautiful apartment overlooking the city. We ate, drank, danced, played cards and ended our Friday in one of the many nightclubs around Plaza del Armas. Although I have never felt so out of place before, blond hair get’s you more attention in Peruvian clubs than we expected. So much so that we ended up in the VIP section within our first 10 minutes.

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We left Arequipa relaxed and ready for new adventures (yet another 13 hour bus, however we paid the extra and went with Cruz Del Sur, and what a difference) in Huacachina.

World Backpackers Hostel: $28 Soles each. A very nice place!

Bus Prices:- 

Puerto Maldonado to Arequipa = 70 Soles (Book your ticket at the station, much better value)

Arequipa to Ica = 120 Soles with Cruz Del Sur (You can find cheaper but for this bus trip we thought it was worth it).

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The Amazonas

 

A wide river, caiman, macaws, monkeys, spiders, giant rodents, giant otters & a bunch of native plants is all it takes to enjoy a couple of days in the Amazon. Puerto Maldonado was our access point, 300 soles per person was our price, 2 days 1 night was our stay, Carlos expeditions was our tour company and Daniel was our guide.

When getting a guide always be sure to ask if their grandfather left them with a native family in the rainforest for 3 years when they were 8. Daniel had the fortune of such an event and as a result was an expert on all the forest plants. And to think I complain about tinned tomato’s in the supermarket that don’t come with openers.

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seriously though…
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What is this?

Fun fact: the 20% of plants that you can use will either make you hallucinate, heal you or act as viagra. 

We heard the Amazon was incredibly dense and despite their abundance, hard to actually spot animals in. Maybe it was our small group of 3, early mornings or expert guide but we saw pretty much everything except for the Jaguar. 

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Capuchin Monkey

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There was also the worlds biggest, and possibly slowest rodent the Capybara. We saw the Capybara at night time and couldn’t take any photos, but here is a picture I drew just for you. In real life they look a little bit more lifelike.

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To scale for your convenience

The Capybara was actually the highlight of the animals, the size (As seen in our size comparison) makes them look like something that somehow survived the Jurassic period. 

Lake Sandoval Has the famed and allusive giant otters which are very hard to to see due to them being elusive. We got a good glance from a distance though.

We also learnt that in the rainforest, the real kings of the land are the wild pigs, the otters are the kings of the water, humans in kayaks are neither.

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Don’t forget your 4 layers of clothes to escape the mosquitos

 

 

 

Puerto Maldonado needs you!

That’s right. Puerto Maldonado is calling your names. This town is one of the amazon access points of Peru, commonly being challenged by Iquitos. Despite Iquitos’ distance, location and cost it still somehow manages to come off on top, like Ken on Street Fighter. Most internet searches will also lead you there rather than the river town of Puerto Maldonado.

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Perhaps that’s why P Maldonado has the feel of a town that was a busy tourist hub 5 years ago but has since suffered the wrath of too many Tripadvisor comparisons. The town isn’t big but  that doesn’t stop it from having 1 nightclub for every 4 travellers and at least 44 travellers which means there must be at least 11 nightclubs. Seriously we walked past more nightclubs than King Street in Melbourne. All huge, all cool and all empty. As big lovers of nightclubs this disheartens us.

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Fill this baby up

Anyway, until word catches on we recommend staying 1 night. We chose the Tambopata Hostel which has rooms from 30 PEN a night. We got a free upgrade to the private 3 bed room.

We caught an average bus from Cusco for 45 Soles each, coulda splurged another 15 and got a much nicer one though.

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We booked a 2 day Amazon tour for 300 Soles per person. This included lodging, meals, birds, caimans and giant Otters. Also lots of spiders. Ciao

 

 

Askers, Guessers and Context

In 2007 Andrea Dondori posted a reply to a Meta Filter post outlining the two types of people that we can be classed into when dealing with social etiquette. Before we go any further we should note that either the English language allows for, or western culture encourages categorisations of people into predefined groups. The problem with this being that most of these categorisations don’t account for outliers and any theory that has cracks from which people fall is not a very a good theory (Thanks Gertrude Anscombe).

Regardless Dondori gave us askers, who have learnt that asking any sort of question or request is ok as long as being told ‘no’ doesn’t cause you any form of discomfort. Someone who commonly asks requests from you is probably an asker and capable of handling a firm ‘no’. On the other hand we have Guessers, who generally only ask requests from people that they are sure they are going to get a yes from, generally as a form of politeness.

This information can be reassuring to people who hate to tell people no. Flip the old trope ‘there is no harm In asking’ around to ‘There is no harm in saying no’. Great news, but why are you telling me this? Great question!

After a long enough stay in a any region with a foreign language you begin to realise something. That the people you are meeting from that country are predominately approaching you. If you wear obvious enough hats and don’t roll your ‘r’s then well done, you’re an approachable tourist. In a place like Latin America it’s very easy to say ‘no’ do the cool hand slap and walk away feeling fine and like you turned lost sale into a happy moment.

This also gives the impression that everyone you meet is incredibly nice and kind. But perhaps, particular people pick particular jobs and that means that on the streets you are mostly meeting askers. A forward group of people who seem overly confident and immune to rejection. Because askers share common traits that guessers don’t have. This also means that you are only interacting with one class of residents when you hit the next tourist destination. This isn’t bad or good, it just opens up the possibility of generalisations about a country of people, once again these generalisations are neither bad nor good, they just are.

It also means something else. Spend long enough travelling overseas and you are probably going to come back with asker traits. Nothing like prolonged travel allows you to try on the different outfits that are available to you as a human being. Context determines much more than we give it credit for. Think back to another troublesome but easy categorisation of human beings, introverts and extroverts. The first time you hear about this categorisation you quickly put yourself into one of those classes. But something happens as time goes on (If you don’t forget about it all together). That is that at times you find yourself highly introverted and at other you find yourself quite extroverted. Context tends to determine this change in character, more so than the catagorical words that were only created recently in human history. In the end we find out that extroversion and introversion exist on a spectrum that can flow back and forth.

The context of ‘travel’ puts you in situations where it is almost impossible to stay the same as you were in your regular life. You might find that you are more confident walking to a stranger on the street to ask a question. Or that meeting people all of a sudden comes naturally to you. The main reason being that travellers all share a common goal (brought on by context) and a common goal is pretty much all it takes for humans to like one another. 

Where does this lead us? Well for one, if you don’t like someone, chances are its because you don’t see yourselves as sharing a common goal. To take from Yuval Noah Harrari’s Sapiens, think about the real purpose of ideologies and countries. They have less to do with controlling us and more to do with helping us cooperate. In this sense religion is no different from liberalism which is no different from liking people because they work at the same company as you. We connect ourselves over similarities in beliefs and purpose. (Unfortunately sharing humanity together isn’t always enough, that’s an essay for another time).

Finally, context. Modernity has given us a lot of free time to think about what sort of people we are. Literature has become filled with theories on personality. However, if you find yourself being someone you don’t like, a change of context might help. Being in nature, working out, changing jobs, moving suburb, going for a run, or travelling can make the entire difference. Unless you have the highest degree of personal sovereignty and are the same in every situation, you might not actually be the person you think you are. Maybe you are just a person like the rest of us, who needs the right context to really shine through.