Chapare, La Paz, Machu Picchu, Ecuador
After quite the memorable night at Hooligans, with only two hours of sleep, we left for Chapare at 8 AM. This time, we were lucky enough to not encounter any blockades which seemed like a miracle. Later on, we found out that the blockade from two weeks ago ended the day before we left… just Bolivia things. After a 3 and a half hour drive we stopped at a restaurant and had 5 different types of fresh water fish! I almost forgot how much I miss seafood. We stopped by the monkey park to find several monkeys in their natural habitat. Later on we arrived in our hostel that has a room filled with hammocks. Naturally, several of us decided to take naps there for an extended period of time. We even had the opportunity to jump into a river and trek along a waterfall. Being in a moist and temperate environment was the relaxing get away I needed.
“Who’s Carlos? The Devil of the Andes.” — Carlos
Sorata/Lake Titicaca/ La Paz (7/29–7/31):
Goodbye Cochabamba. We said our goodbyes to Anna and left the city to begin our 9-hour drive to Sorata. The drive itself was not too terrible until we arrived in El Alto. This little town is what I imagine a war torn Iraq looks like, Carlos said the toughest in Bolivia live here and are famous for leading revolutions. Once we navigated our way through the maze that is El Alto, we continued on our way to Sorata. Driving into Sorata from above was a lovely sight. We arrived to an Aliaga property, which had beautiful luscious foliage everywhere. This piece of land was extremely soothing. During the night we made a bonfire and enjoyed each others company.
“We are all going to the light. Bad road, bad day is just an obstacle. But we keep on going. Need to keep flowing and don’t let anything stop your flow because you are wonderful and you are life” — Carlos
On Saturday we drove four hours to Copacabana to Lake Titicaca. We took little boats from Copacabana to get to Isla Del Sol. On the island, we were greeted with a lovely traditional lunch. They brought out potatoes, corn and beans laid out on this tapestry with a variety of fried fish for us to enjoy using our hands. After lunch, we hiked up to Carlos’ famous Puma museum. Later on in the night we hiked up to the top of the mountain to catch the sunset. Altitude has never hit me so hard, I had to take a break every 20 steps. Despite being physically taxing, the view itself was worth it. The highest lake in the world is pretty amazing.
“Some people took arts & crafts or cross country skiing, but I chose dairy processing” — Hailey
La Paz was astonishing! I have never seen such an ever so expanding city that is built in a valley. Everywhere along side the mountains, there was always some sort of structure. Really magnificent site, especially from the Teleferico (Cable Car) up above. We had a lovely final meal before spending our last night in Bolivia
“When you have express yourself, you have freed yourself” — Carlos
Machu Picchu (8/2):
Unfortunately, I had less then 12 hours in Cuzco, which is a bummer because it really is a beautiful city. Getting from Cuzco to Aguas Caliente (town where Machu Picchu is located) was hectic. We got off our airplane to take a cab (that ripped us off) to our hostel in order to drop off our luggage. Afterwards, we brought our backpacks to the collectivo station, where I realized I left my tickets for Machu Picchu. I had to sprint back to the hostel (20 minutes away) to get my tickets and then come back. Once I arrived, I quickly inhaled my lunch (Aji de Gallina) which cost 5 soles. After that we took a bus to Ollanyatambo, where we had to take a train to Aguas Caliente. After traveling on 3 different transportation vehicles, we arrived to Aguas Caliente.
The next morning, we left the hostel at 5 AM to begin our hike to Machu Picchu. After seamlessly wandering through the night following the train tracks, we found the hiking entrance into Machu Picchu. The hike itself was about 2 kilometers up hill which made it somewhat difficult. Having hiked at the altitude of 4000+ meters (Uyuni), this seemed relatively easy in comparison at 2500 meters. The other option was to pay $25 for a bus up to Machu Picchu, which seemed like a waste of money. After 50 minutes of hiking, we arrived to the top to only find out that there was a huge line to get into Machu Picchu. After waiting in line for half an hour, I was ecstatic to finally see this wonder of the world. However, when I was at the front of the line checking in my pass, the ticket lady said that “I didn’t pay”. I was infuriated and lost my cool cause my bank account already charged me for this pass. Luckily it all worked out and I just bought another pass. Despite this little debacle, we made it to Machu Picchu! The view was absolutely stunning and now I understand why it is a wonder of the world. Naturally, we took as many photos as we could and just enjoyed our time. Amazing.
Quito, Lago Quilotoa, Baños (8/3–8/8):
After Peru, I flew to Quito to visit an old friend, George Molina. Surely enough, George showed me an awesome time in Ecuador. Other than seeing the sights of Quito itself including the Teleferico and the Equator, we also got a chance to kayak in Lago Quilotoa. We drove to the Baños, which is located at the beginning of the Amazon rainforest. Here we got to “swing to the end of the world” and white river raft. We ended this trip in Ecuador with a football match! I was very happy to finally get to see some footy in South America, the atmosphere was wild, I wish we got to riot with the people. Overall, Ecuador was a blast to end this journey. South America, I will be back.