Strikes, blockades and repairing a bridge with rented wood.
16.06.2009 - 16.06.2009
Hello from PUNO!!
We escaped Cusco at last..We made it almost safely by bus...
We basically went back to the agency and requested a refund, in order to book a flight to La Paz. At the agency, the operator told us that other bus companies were going to Puno, they were just taking a large detour to avoid the barricades. We were convinced by the agent that this alternative route was going to be without problem, so we decided to take that bus route. The plane was going to cost 5 times as much, so bus it is..
The bus was suppose to leave at 9 am, instead we left at 11:30 am, which was not so bad ( you get use to these schedules..). So it turns out that the bus did not take an alternate route that would avoid the protests, it went right into it!!!!! So here we were, protesters put rocks on the road ahead, and shortly after we had arrived, we had rocks blocking the back of the bus too.. We were getting a little nervous at that point, the driver told us that he was going to go negotiate with the protesters to see if we can make it through.. It turns out that he was going to bribe the protesters with the extra 10 dollars per passengers that they charged us extra...(300dollars for the bus). I couldn´t believe it. Seems they are just as corrupt as the government at this point!!! Well it turned out to not have worked, the protesters were not letting us go.
After waiting 3 hours in the bus, we were going to take an alternate route, which happened to be right there, by a bridge which had been destroyed by the protesters.. Villagers were going to fix it using pieces of wood from some local!!! The gap in the bridge must have been 2 to 3 meters long!! Needless to say we were all petrified to attempt a crossing..
The bridge was eventually "repaired", everybody took their belongings and left the bus, crossed over by foot and watched nervously as the large buses and trucks made their way across...With a few sketchy crossings, our bus and others made it through..What a sight!
We all boarded the bus and the detour was not 4 hours but more like 8 hours..We drove throughout the night, got to Puno at 3am..Found a room without a problem.. Olin will post some pictures shortly.
We´re going to visit the islands in Lake Titicaca tomorrow, and the day after head to either La Paz or Copacabana in Bolivia..