Peru/Bolivia: How do I get there from here?
I keep getting emails from you guys saying “thought you were coming home at the end of April…” Yeah, about that. When I left Denver nearly 6 months ago, I had a solid and seamless 3 year plan. That crumbled about 6 weeks later. I have since been contemplating the matrix of possibilities and have decided to go with a derivative of plan 72a…the Beeline Back to Brasil!!! It´s not like I have opportunities back in Denver beating down my door and I´ll be working til I´m 100 probably, anyway – right? Only a continent to scuttle across, no problema! As flying tends to be cost prohibitive to the unemployed, I headed to the bus terminal in Cusco to see what had to be done. Oh goody…it´s only 15+17+17+6+22 hours to Rio. Cakewalk. So, after a departing evening of hard-earned massages and pedicures with Lani and Laurie, it was 15 hours to La Paz. A quick 4 hour layover allowed me to go downtown to walk around for a bit and pickup some needed road-tripping items and then I hopped on another bus for 17 hours to Santa Cruz. This time though, I went straight luxury and got on the bus-cama!!!! This was my first bus-cama experience since I´ve been on this trip! Typicallyt there are three levels of bus fares: regular (basically old school buses), semi-cama, and bus-cama. Bus-cama means there are only 3 seats per row and they are big and comfy and recline far back!! I must say though…I still froze, as you do on all overnight buses and it wasn´t all that glorious…but at least I tried it.
In Santa Cruz, I was forced to make a 2 day pit stop. There is only one train per day that leaves for the Brazilian border and the one for that day was leaving immediately and I just didn´t have my act together to hop right on, nor did I want to. I had envisioned at least a few hours to check out the city and stretch my legs. The trainfor the next day was already sold out, as it was the fancy-pants service, so 2 days it was. Santa Cruz is a strange place with an identity crisis!! At first, it seems like your typical tropical latin city, but then you start to look around. There were many signs, music, and names in Portuguese and lots of Brazilian people, restaurants, cars, etc. Then, there is a huge ex-US Mennonite community that still dress in their traditional wear, like a peek into the 1800´s. And if you look at the newsstands on the street, you´ll see recent Miami Herald´s and Cosmo in English. Am I still in Bolivia?? Strange place, but pleasant and I had 2 nice days there doing a whole lot of nothing. Then it was time for the death train. Now, I don´t know exactly why it is nicknamed the death train. Some say it is because there have been fatal muggings on it. Others say it is because it is so boring. I have no idea about the first, and prefer not to think about it, but I can vouch for the second. And just when you think you are bored, they play the English Patient, with no sound, so that you can come up with words to the devastatingly, heart-wrenching script all on your own. And I left my sleep-aid pills in my checked bag, why? But, I was delivered safe and sound to Quijarro, Bolivia and whisked across the border by my tour guide….and that is all that matters. So, welcome back to Brazil folks!!!