Copacabana, Bolivia

 Operator said they’ll arrive at 7.30, but came at 7 instead and left without me. Other than getting really pissed off at the taxi driver that tried to scam me, (I shouted at him angrily, which I would like to think is rare because I’m usually excellent at acting in front of strangers). Transport woes aside, I’m safe in Copacabana!
Listening to my Spanish podcasts on yet another (long) bus ride, and this quote they’re teaching truly struck me: el miedo de peligro es diez mil veces más terrorífico que el peligro mismo
The fear of danger is ten thousand times more frightening than danger itself
How absolutely, absolutely true. Yo quiero vivir
My filosofía de vida es que sólo se vive una vez, vive tuvida el máximo es más entretenido
I haven’t been writing for awhile, I suppose I’m pretty tired, and the details are slipping by. Copacabana is beautiful!!
It was a grumpy morning, the grumpier of days I had for awhile. I actually lost my temper. If I’m not wrong (i am not), it’s the first time for this trip. I awoke that morning early, an hour before my bus was due to depart. Packed and waited awhile, soaking in the warmth of my bed. The bus, as the guy in the tour office had scrawled, was to come at 7.30am. 7.30am, he had scrawled. Strangely, I had showed Chau the ticket the night before, we had looked at it (the time) together, but now I couldn’t find it anywhere; I had no idea which company it was.
I wonder if it’s because I was talking to the guy about his Japanese girlfriend and how he was flying there at the end of the year. I wonder if he wrote the wrong time because he was distracted thinking of her.
Apparently, at 645 they had come knocking to look for me, but I had switched room from Ghostbusters to Orphange, the 4-room dorm to the 16-people one. No one came looking for me, though the receptionist later claimed otherwise. All I know is I got down early, and was told the bus had left. Was a little upset, but I had gotten a really good deal for Death Road and 330bs would have been reasonable anyway. The taxi fare, as the guy in the hostel said, and the receptionist herself said, would be 15 bs. My last 15bs (after trading 1usd for 5bs with mariona)
And then I can go to a money changer in Copacabana. Maybe I won’t have to make anymore withdrawals. Good plan, I thought.
When we arrived at the cemetario the taxi driver said it was 20, 20 because the cab was called. On hindsight I really do wonder if he was lying. I said I didn’t have the 5bs, I needed to change money. He drove me about 30s to this ATM, where I withdrew money. Because I had only 100bs notes and passed him one, to get a 95bs change, he initially took the entire 100bs note, looked at me and nodded, indicating in some way ‘thanks, i’m accepting the whole note’. Erm, hello. Necessito cambiar, I said. He then said ‘quince‘, wanting 50bs for the stupid taxi ride that I never wanted in the first place, and that was supposed to cost 15bs, and that i was somewhat charged 20bs for and needed only that 5bs, and total 20 is fine but 50?!?!?!?! I was getting annoyed at this point. You said 20bs, I said. He then said he drove me here to the ATM and that it costs 50 in total because of this extra distance. No freaking way am I paying 50bs for this stupid taxi ride, that was ridiculous!! Completely!!!! I got really angry, and I was like NO, NO I’M NOT GOING TO PAY 50. Like really angry. Shitty morning, shitty bus company that gave me the wrong time and left me, shitty 5bs which might not even be supposed to be, shitty driver that wanted to keep my WHOLE 100bs note. No no no. 20, I said. You said 20. Then he said 30, ok 30, firmly. I thought of arguing, then gave a resigned sigh and said ok 30. He gave me the change and we turned quiet. Actually no, I was swearing fuck and shit under my breath because i was incredibly pissed off, thinking of my morning with the bus company that left me, and especially when I think of the 100 / 50bs thing, UGH.
LESSON LEARNT: TRY TO GET THE EXACT CHANGE WHEN YOU CAN. It’s actually not the first time this ‘change’ thing has happened; on another occasion i bought something and bargained a little, but because i gave a ‘big’ note i received change that was equated to the pre-bargain price. But that’s okay, that i accepted because i know it’s comparably small money to me. the 100 bs just PISSES ME OFF at the thought of it. Sigh.
But okok, at least I got a bus, at least I got a bus. Seriously though, I was so angry. Augmented by everything I suppose.
The bus ride was 20 I think. The salesperson who said it was 30, liars. I met some girls from the UK who said I could probably get it at 15 if i bargained. So i did, a little persistently. The first guy shook his head; I proceeded to remove my backpack from the truck. I just didn’t want to pay MORE anymore. Of course, it’s likely because I was in a grumpy mood; it’s not expensive, for one, and for another the monthly wage is pretty low in Bolivia. I knew deep down the <1usd didn’t make as much a difference to me as it did for him, perhaps. Still. I just didn’t. Not after the shitty taxi driver. There are so many bus companies yelling for customers, less than one minute later another driver walked up to me and asked me if i wanted a ticket. Some brief negotiation later he allowed me the 15bs AND gave me my change!!! Sigh. Got on the bus.
It’s quite strange, but I always think about Why something happens when something more unfortunate happens. It’s automatic, my brain, as though bad things are really meant to happen for something else to happen. You know what I mean? So I tried to figure out why it happened. Why did the bus ticket just disappear? Was I meant to take this local bus? Why did this happen? How did it make my experience different?

Did that happen so I got to catch local scenes like these? They were very interesting, and the kind of street bustle here was different from that of the city centre in La Paz.

muy bonito!

I was in the bus, looking out of the window and dazing, when my view suddenly bobbed. Why are we bobbing? It took me awhile to realize that I was on a boat. Why am I bobbing? Did the vehicle grow some kind of paddle like Duck Tours? I looked out. There were others standing outside, and from the view it looked like we were sailing. the door opened. I crept out excitedly. Ah, now I get it; the bus had reversed into this ‘boat’ of sorts. Some women had gotten off, a man asked for money. Some lady (Cholita) looked at me and shook her head, waving her hand, indicating for me not to pay. I didn’t quite understand, i simply ignored. That night I read through my pre-trip notes on Copacabana:
“It takes 3-4 hours to get from La Paz to Copacabana by bus. About an hour before your arrival the bus reaches the Peninsula of Copacabana, a finger of water that divides the lake. Your bus will cross by barges, while passengers hop on a quick 10-minute ferry. This shortens the trip considerably, but passengers are expected to buy their own fare for the ferry. Remember to bring some cash with you to pay the boat captain since the cost isn’t included with your bus ticket. The ferry will cost less than 20 Bolivianos.”
I think I was supposed to pay for the ferry ticket, but i didn’t. Seriously though, Bolivia can be a little strange. Sometimes people pay and sometimes people don’t. E.g. recalling the Rurrenabaque airport tax
Yeah, maybe this boat experience is the experience I got in place of the tourist bus. Meh tourist buses. Go the local way, gogogogo. (Hahaha, sour grapes)

I know, I should stop taking photos of Cholitas secretly but I can’t help it!! It’s just somewhat fascinating, sometimes I see them walking around and I can’t quite believe it’s not a performance of sorts. That hat, that sack, that adorable puffy skirt, those braids. Sigh. SUCH A BAD THOUGHT, Other-ing but it’s truly how I feel I guess. Need more time to get used to it.
After reaching Copacabana I walked a little to look for a hostel. I’m starting to appreciate the flexibility of not booking a hostel in advance. It’s really great actually, to just be able to enter one, know it’s a reasonable price and not hunt for the one you booked. (think san pedro)
That’s one aspect I’ve learnt I suppose, I used to think it’s necessary to pre-book everything but this flexibility, i do appreciate.

Such a big room!! ALL TO MYSELFFFFF WOW

This hostel costs 20bs a night, supposedly shared room but I’m the only one. I think it’s low-season here – the restaurants are priced so cheaply, the menu del dia is 15bs to 30bs. $3usd a night hostel, $3usd set meals with appetizer (soap), main course and dessert. Really!
I ate heartily that day, I ate 2 menu del dias – for lunch and dinner. It’s been so long since i last felt this full and satisfied. I mean, an empanada in Chile is 10usd, no way I could eat properly there. But here, a full course for $3! Life is good. Good hostel, good food; at last, at last I’m living well. (for awhile)
Met a Columbian and we explored the place together. met another Columbian guy. I listened to them, and spoke a little. I would say I’m improving, I’ve improved, really. Understanding more when I listen, picking up the words commonly used, and speaking more comfortably myself.
In Bolivia I hear firecrackers quite a lot. Randomly too, in the day, in the evening, in the night. What kind of celebration is it? Sometimes I ask.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walked a short distance up for the view – met a Bolivian couple on the way, and offered to help them take a picture. They nodded, and each proceeded to take photos with me, before adding me on fb 😂 This altitude makes me feel like a loser, I am panting hard every 5 steps. 😢

 

 

 

 

it was so beautiful in real life, so, so beautiful
breathtakingly beautiful and calm

 

this doesnt quite capture it.

 

cholita cholitaaa

mi amiga de Bogota, Colombia

I remember asking her several times if Colombia was dangerous, after all that I heard / read about. No! She insisted. It was safe, and it was gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous. I met another Colombian who said the same. I felt assured after speaking with them, and felt a jab of sadness that I don’t have the time to visit this trip. Partially also because I preferred to shun away from the supposedly dodgier areas. Well after speaking with them, I really do feel like my doors to Colombia have opened.

 

 

 

 

 

Looking at these pictures post-trip makes me feel a little… depressed. My heart lurches with longing.

 

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