Note to self: just because a bus ride is cheaper does not mean I have to take it. The creaking TV kept me wide awake all night long. I dozed off and would wake up to the incessant zipper-opening-velcro-pulling-ish creek creek creek...it was as nightmarish as a bus ride can get. To make matters worse, I was at the bus terminal, popping my contacts into my eyes, when I realized I left my headband on the bus. You might chuckle at my disappointment for so trivial an object, but in my defense it was a faithful headband, and I´d grown attached to it. Yesterday, I left my nalgene bottle at the dentist´s. Camera, headband, bottle...gone forever. Oh, but it gets better.
I volunteered to buy breakfast at the terminal. Upon opening my wallet I found - you guessed it- nothing. It must have happened on the twenty soles ride to Puno, when I´d been attempting slumber. That explained how my bag ended up under my seat instead of in front of it. The thief was gracious enough to leave my credit card, green card, passport, and yellow fever certificate untouched. I suppose I should be grateful that he/she only took $100 worth of cash and spared my identity.
The morning was crazy enought. We bought three 2 pm tickets to Copacabana, Bolivia, hoping we´d see Sucharit before then. With nothing to do but wait, we sat on the plaza, watching an old woman crush crusty bread into crumbs for pigeons. As I stared absentmindedly at the cooing birds, I began to feel better about the money. I should´ve kept the bag on my lap, but didn´t. My carelessness led to my loss. Sucharit´s camera was stolen in Cusco and I´ve had my fair share of errors. Nikhil´s caution has paid off; he has kept all his belongings safe. Let´s hope it stays that way.
The series of unfortunate events ended in the afternoon. Sucharit showed up at the plaza and the three of us took a minibus to Copacabana. The road ran along Lake Titicaca, giving me plenty of savoring views. Two hours into the drive, we were pulled over to be checked for swine flu. The tent was musty and the crowd dense. Squeezing through the pack of bodies, I probably had a greater chance of getting swine flue in that tent than otherwise.
We reached the border between Peru and Bolivia, only to find out the border was closed. Why? Because there was a bullfight in session. Of course, closing the border for such a spectacle seemed only appropriate. Sarcasm aside, we took our bags and walked across to Bolivia to find the reason for the traffic jam. Four trucks functioned as the walls of the fighting rink. I tried to get a peek from under a truck, but those seats were already taken. Men, women, and little children stuffed themselves in the crevices below the vehicles, twisting their heads to get the best view. The rink was not impermeable as we soon found out; a bull rushed out from a space between two trucks. It was headed straight toward us. A group of men on either side grabbed a rope connected to the raging animal, guiding it back into its battleground. This was our welcome to Bolivia.
Riding through Copacabana, we saw a brilliant sunset by the lake. After getting off the minibus, we went back to that location. The dock was a fiesta of animal-shaped boats, foozball tables, crackling fireworks, and a circle of men creating music. This was part of a week-long party celebrating Bolivia´s independence. There was a lot going on at this shore, but in the distance silhouetteso bobbing fishing boats and lone oarsmen painted a calmer picture. I took in the scene, enjoying the pan flute and Andean guitar soundtrack in the background.
Dinner at a vegetarian restaurant turned out to be quite the ordeal. Five minutes into sitting at our table the power went out, I´m guessing in all of Copacabana. We must have been sitting at our candlelit table for two hours before we got our mediocre food. The manager was so vexed at the power outage that as he set our table he gave one of us two forks instead of a knife and a fork. Realizing his mistake, he chuckled nervously, apologized, and did it again for the next person.
Our days in South America are numbered, so we´ll be leaving Copacabana tomorrow to visit Isla de Sol, or Island of the Sun. Copacabana is not any cheaper than Peru. The only difference is that one ends up spending more. One sol is about 2 bolivianos, so a 10 soles meal now costs 20 bolivianos. In either case, I´ll be clutching my bag a lot more tightly now.