Belated final entry

July 2, 2009 - La Paz, Bolivia

Hello from sunny England,

I apologise for the lateness of this final update, but for reasons that will soon become apparent, my last few days were not what you would call stress free. You may recall in our last meeting we discussed the possibility of the strikes in northern Peru holding up our transit to Lake Titicaca. Unfortunately, our worst fears were confirmed the evening before our scheduled departure when we were told that we would be unable to proceed to Puno and would be stuck in Cusco for another day with the plan to pack light and try and take public transport the next evening as far as possible then walking across the blockaded road. So we amused ourselves for another day in preparation for a potentially "interesting" journey. However, in morning we were informed that the protests had worsened and so no transit through was possible. Therefore we had no other option other than to stay yet another day in Cusco then fly direct to La Paz the morning after. This unfortunately meant we would miss out on the excursion to Lake Titicaca, but since we were arriving in the Bolivian capital one day earlier than planned, there was a possibility we could cobble together a trip to the Lake. But first I had an urgent appointment with the World's Most Dangerous Road (to be said in an echoing and menacing voice). The aptly named Death Road is 65km long and descends from the clouds at 4700 metres above sea level all the way down to the jungle at 1200 metres. And you cycle down it. Most of the road is dirt and stones and winds its way through the mountains, with only a 2-3 metre wide road to stay on and avoid tumbling to a certain messy demise down the cliffs. Around 100 people per year die on this road, though thankfully none of our group, despite the speeds and lack of traction involved. The ride was immense fun and we arrived back at our hotel very dusty and tired but a very happy bunch.

The next day we set off to make up for lost time and got on a minibus to the town of Copacabana (no singing please) on the shores of Lake Titicaca. This very touristy town was the launching point for all the boat trips round the lake, and also where we could be found tucking in to some locally caught trout for lunch. In the afternoon we hopped on a small boat that would take us round the main sights of the lake, which at 200km long and 80km wide, is the largest lake in South America and one of the highest navigable in the world at 3,812 metres above sea level. The views across the lake to the Andes were simply breathtaking, and we were lucky to visit a couple of Incan temples built on the islands in the middle of the lake. The highlight of the trip were the floating reed islands, which, as the name suggests, are a cluster of small islands made entirely of a thick layer of totora reeds that can be found all along the edge of the lake. These islands were originally used for defence purposes, as they could be floated to a different location should threat arise and you can still find small houses and watchtowers also built from totora reeds on the islands to this day. Then it was back to the town of Copacabana, passing the time on the journey back to admire the sun slipping into the lake on the horizon, before a long bus journey back to La Paz.

My final day on my travels was spent wandering aimlessly around the streets of La Paz, pausing in the famous Witches Market to ponder over the many weird and wonderful products on show; such as llama foetuses, which you should apparently bury in the land on which you intend to build your house, else bad luck shall surely strike. After a pleasant day's sightseeing, it was time for a final meal and a few drinks with my fellow travellers, before bidding them all farewell and good luck on the journey, which would take them all the way to Rio de Janerio in Brazil. At 3.30am, after a few hours reading in the hotel lobby, I hailed a taxi to take me to the airport, and would land 32 hours later at London Heathrow. My days as a traveller over, with a camera full of pictures, a head full of memories, and for the first time in weeks, lungs full of oxygen as I finally reached a sensible altitude.

Many thanks to everyone who has taken the time to keep up to date with my progress over the past 4 months, and I hope that some day I will return to this page with the intention of the Magical Adventures of Fatboy to enter Chapter 2.

Until then, it's goodbye from me

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