We checked into our hotel accommodation ... yes a hotel ... it had been a few weeks for me and months for Ellen and Nikita. For $22 we splashed out! Las Olas is essentially an Alice in Wonderland themed place ... we turned down the snail house for the castle ... A 3 story building with a turret on the top overlooking the lake. I got the lower Little Merman shell bed (thanks Phil for the pun!) ... A ginormous suite and the only thing missing was the mirrored ceiling! The hotel also had a guitar for Nikita to serenade us each night with some Ed Sheeran and a hot tub with llama's to enjoy (not in the hot tub - that would be wrong as they can't swim). We had hot water bottles given to us every night and apart from leaving the toilet seat up occasionally I was a perfect room buddy! This was what we all needed after partying very hard in La Paz. It meant we had take aways for the first 2 nights and egg sandwiches for breakkie...a back packer treat! Although did venture out for one night of trout ... the only fish living in the lake.
Copacabana (Brazil's poorer cousin) has numerous islands and villages ... the highlight of which is Isla Del Sol (Island of Sun). A very slow boat ride for 2.5hrs ... swimming was faster! But well worth it, the highlight being the pre-Inca ruins where rituals on virgins were performed due to them believing it was where the sun was born. We also took a taxi tour of the mainland with Miguel to the local villages to get some stunning views of the the lake, Isla Del Sol and Isla Del Luna. The highlight was walking through a mock-English village with cobbled streets called Sampaya. The only thing missing were the scones and jam.
The reason for coming to Peru briefly was that it is not on my trip next month with my mum so as it was only a 6hr bus ride from Copacabana and I heard it was worth visiting...FOMO (Fear of missing out)!
My first bus ride in Peru was special compared to the others, I would like to say that having the toilet locked all the time was new - but no. It was the awful stench from the bus and passengers (mainly coming from the guy next to me and I washed in the morning!) Also during the journey every hour someone comes on to sell you food but gets off 5km later into the wilderness I assume they get a lift back to where they started. To finish the journey off a guy with speakers comes on for 30 mins - I initially thought he was preaching but it turns out he was selling nasal spray! Bizarre...but anyway I bought nothing and learned that I need to ensure a bus has a toilet and good facilities...aka "cama" But this is obviously different in every country you go ... the joys and fun of being on the road!!
Arequipa is Peru 2nd largest city and is surrounded by volcanic mountains and is due a big eruption within a year! Good timing on my behalf! It is a lovely old city with plaza's, cathedral and convents for a bit of history. I had some good meals and nights out... I tried llama and alpaca ... tastes just like chicken! The issue being not many gringos (tourists) were out in the town and the enticement of free drink was enough to keep me out ... despite compliments of "dancing well for a Brit" from a Dutch friend ... the nightclub with 2 people in it (1 attached, the other a lesbian) is not ideal stomping ground so like all Brits on tour I resorted to drinking games to continue the night. Which meant I felt terrible the following day, I'm getting too old for this.
The great thing about travel is stumbling across random things ... I went from Starbucks to eating cheese ice-cream to a convent to a body building championship to a chicken shop to a supermarket selling tuna called "Fanny" all within 2 hours!
Arequipa is famous for having the Colca Canyon and Condors to view within driving distance if you call 4 hours nearby. It was worth seeing although the 2.30am start was not very welcome ... the Condors are big but we were not close enough to do the trip justice. Colca Canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and I also threw myself onto a horse for an afternoon...our guide ran this dodgy stables with 15 dogs that also needed a comb. The horses were smaller than UK horses which provided a bit more comfort as my horse 'Nacho' was prone to rearing! The best bit was our trekking guide ... a short plump sleaze who decided to woo the 2 girls at the half way point with Salsa dancing lessons that providing me with much entertainment ... the offer of one-on-one lessons after hours provided us with numerous giggles as we recounted the stories back at the hostel. Needless to say it was very cool to canter along the river with mountain scenery but won't be recommending a visit to the stables unless you're accompanied by someone else!
Zig-zag time continued so I took an overnight bus from Peru to La Paz ... one night in La Paz for a long awaited Ruby Murray and quad biking before another night bus to Argentina and a flight to meet Mrs P in Buenos Aires on 31st March ... oh, did I mention a harvest wine festival in Salta that I have to attend? Life is once again tough being on the road.