Bolivia Bound – Puno, Peru to La Paz, Bolivia

Four years ago, George returned from his sabbatical in South America and Dominican Republic wide-eyed with a crazy idea to drive from Alaska to Argentina. After visiting Bolivia, he could not wait to solo drive through Bolivia’s salt flats and altiplano (high planes). Needless to say, as we left Cuzco and headed for the Bolivian border, we were pumped for the new country and new adventure.

We made the obligatory stop in Puno, Peru on Lake Titicaca to visit the floating reed islands. Someone described the tours to the  islands like visiting disney land. The inhabitants do seem ready to sing some cheery songs in any language necessary. Setting aside our obvious dislike of the tourist trap, we were able to appreciate the ingenuity of the people. You’ve got to respect anyone who can carve out a life from layers and layers of reeds floating on a lake.

After the amusement park visit, we made our way to Copacabana Bolivia and yet another tenuous ferry ride.

La Paz was next on our list. The city sits at 3,200 to 4,100 m and was built in a narrow valley which means a heart pounding climb anywhere you go. Hiking through the city, we took in the baby llamas hanging from stalls in the market, wood carvers and one of many city view points.

One of the major pulls of La Paz is the proximity to the death road, a 60 to 70 km stretch where historically hundreds of people lost their lives each year. Because of a new highway, the traffic is mostly bikers and adventurous drivers these days. We opted to bike down the road instead of driving up to save Vida from some abuse. As we prepared for the ride, I was a tad nervous until I turned around and saw one of the riders in our group holding the seat of another rider and helping him practice being on a bicycle again (a very comical dose of perspective). I quickly loosened up and was smiling ear to ear for most of the ride down.

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