|A few Colombian and Argentinian pals I met on the boat|
Once disembarked at the village of Challapampa on the north of the island it didn’t take us long to find our way through a few streets and to a pretty beach where there were already about 12 other tents set up. It looked like there wouldn’t be much problem camping here… little did we know. Just after dark as we were setting up our tents along arrived four boys probably ranging in age from 10 to 14. They had spotted our bikes and they wanted a go on them… and they weren’t going to stop plaguing us until they got them. Poor Simon and Olivia were hit first giving me enough time to put up my tent and put everything bar the bike inside. After literally half an hour of pestering Simon and Olivia over they marched for my turn. I made the mistake of speaking Spanish to them so they knew I understood them. They continued to badger me for a go on my bike. They didn’t have a very pleasant tone and I told them there was no way they were getting my bike! It had the effect of dampening our initial excitement at seeing all the other tents on the beach, of course we were the only ones with bikes! Whenever I camp I am always very careful to secure my bike with my two heavy locks and a few bungee cords but for the first time on the entire trip I decided to try and take my bike inside my tent! Although I have a relatively spacious two man tent it was quite the squeeze but I managed it. I also locked my tent from the inside.
|Plenty of fellow campers on the beach|
|Well it's certainly cosy|
|Have those 12 year old bullies cleared off yet?!|
Simon and Olivia didn’t have the luxury of bringing their bikes inside so by 7 o’clock the next morning they were woken up to the sound of kids ringing the bells on their bikes which they had secured to a nearby lamppost, being plagued by more kids…. “POR FAAAAVOOOOR”
Olivia gave the people what they wanted, or in this case gave the kids what they wanted and let them cycle her bike around the local basketball court, carefully supervised! She also decided to check out alternative accommodation options and came up trumps with a very cheap room overlooking the beach about 30 metres up the hill. I didn’t take any convincing! It was like being in a different place, no more harassing kids, the sun came out and we even had a picnic table!
|Don't let go of my bike Simon! ... POR FAVOR!|
|The lady who owned the room where we were staying was a talented knitter|
We got up relatively early the next morning with what we thought was plenty of time to catch the 8.30 am ferry but we missed it by an hour. We had forgotten to put our watches forward when crossing the border into Bolivia two days previous!
|This little girl seemed fascinated with all the tourists|
|Checking out the local chocolate, not great|
|One for the road|
|Church in Cococabana|
Once back on the main land we passed some stunning scenery by the side of Lake Titicaca as we wound our way up out of Copacabana and into the pampas. We got a stunning camp spot that night up in the hills overlooking the lake. It was time to return the favor and I invited Simon and Olivia over (to my tent) for dinner. A kind of quinoa, vegetable soup to start by the guys and I followed up with pasta, carrot, tomato and tuna. We certainly didn’t go hungry that night.
|We camped in this families front garden|
Within two days we had reached the outskirts of La Paz. We decided to bunch up and keep an eye out for each other as we negotiated our way closer to the centre in what seemed to be ever maddening traffic. We missed the autopista which would have had a decent shoulder on it so we took a proper zig zig down from El Alto which is a city in itself, through the various neighborhoods built up along the mountain sides and into the city centre which is located lower down in the middle of the valley. I think we were all relieved to make it to the Casa de Ciclista in one piece.