We took an overnight bus from Cusco to Copacabana, Bolivia, which was supposed to be direct. However, at 5am we found ourselves in the Puno bus terminal needing to switch to a different bus. The next bus didn’t leave until 7:30am so we attempted to get a bit more sleep in the frigid terminal.
We were finally allowed to board our bus heading across the Bolivian border around 8:30am. We were anxious to cross since we read about many Statesman having problems at the border. First, US citizens have to pay $135 to enter Bolivia (in exact change with no tears or wrinkles in the bills). Secondly, we are required to provide a photo copy of our passport. Additionally, it is expected that we print out and complete paperwork prior to bellying up to the immigration counter. Fortunately for us, we were prepared, but this wasn’t the case for a few other fellow passengers. One guy had to use the ATM solely to take money out to pay for photo copies. Then he had to exchange the remainder of his Soles for Bolivianos.
Our experience, contrary to our expectations, was rather smooth–aside from the awkward 15 minutes the immigration official took examining our money, only to haphazardly shove it in a dusty drawer once satisfied. We took a few pictures in front of the Peru sign, since there was no “welcome to Bolivia” option, before making our way along Lake Titicaca to Copacabana.
Similar to the accounts our friends and fellow travelers had provided, Copacabana was gorgeous. Nestled in a small valley between one mountain peak and another alluring rock formation (both of which we climbed to enjoy majestic view points), Copacabana relaxes tranquilly on the coast of Lake Titicaca. Our first day there was spent wandering the city center, climbing around the unique rock formations, relaxing in the cathedral, using wifi while dining on a delicious $4 meal of quinoa soup, rice, salad and trout, and finally, climbing to the mountain peak and sharing a box of Chilean red wine.
At about the same time as the sun began painting the horizon rose, rust, and marigold, we met a couple from the states who voiced their appreciation for our taste in boxed wine. Victor (whose family is Chilean) and Amanda grew up in Virginia, but spent the last two years traveling around South America. We had many questions for them concerning our impending adventures in Chile and Argentina, and they delighted in speaking English and deciphering Ryan’s slang. Once the sun vanished, we walked down the side of the mountain and directly to a market to try api morado, a sweet, warm drink made from purple corn and choclo (massive kerneled white corn) that is held in high regard by the locals.
When we had our fill of the thick, syrupy, purple and white swirled drink, we made our way to a small travel agency to book our boat tickets to Isla del Sol the following morning. Victor’s negotiating skills secured us passage for 23 Bolivianos ($3.33) to the north side of the island (furthest away from Copacabana). We went back to our hostel, ensured they would hold our large bags for the time we were to spend on Isla del Sol, packed our breakfast, and slept deliciously despite the high altitude.