From Chachapoyas, Me and Jeff travelled to Cajamarca by bus. This is one of the best bus journeys I have ever been on. We were driving along edges of sheer drops with only a couple of cm to spare and going over would planks over gorges which looked liked it could barely hold my weight let alone the whole bus. The views were out of this world. Valleys lay below us with clouds shrouding their peaks. I couldn't believe we were actually above the clouds. The road itself had actually been carved out of the mountain. As you looked behind, you could see the road snaking across the mountain. Meeting cars were tricky and even harder were broken lorries crossing the road. At this point most people got off as the bus edge by - I however wasn't fast enough and was left on the bus. It was frightening knowing that if we went over the edge we would be dead. Jeff looked so shocked as the bus edged by and I was still on the bus waving at him. Passed through villages that time seemed to have forgotten and came across road works where the road hadn't even been started. I thought we could be waiting for some time but apparently they weren't going to finish the road, so we rambled over the rocky surface!!! It was priceless - the whole journey.
Cajamarca was a pretty little town. A pretty little square and a beautiful cathedral. They are also famous for their springs. So we decided to go to the Baths. It was a really strange place. We were expecting a huge outside pool which we could chill in. Instead we got a little box room with no windows with a bath. Given that me and Jeff didn't know each other very well it was quite uncomfortable. Jeff seemed very edgy - I must have the look of a wanton woman!!!! The water was lovely and warm and I managed not to jump on |Jeff (only just mind you)! He doesn't know how lucky he was.
From here we moved onto Trujillo. I want to get to La Paz for my birthday so I have quite a tight schedule. We caught the night bus. We had a video taken of our faces and our fingerprints taken. Jeff said this is to stop theft on the bus. Now I was worried and spent the whole night worrying about being robbed instead of sleeping. Jeff slept soundly - his revenge for the baths I think! At Trujllo, we were totally stuffed by the taxi driver. Instead of driving us 10 minutes to Trujillo centre he took us 16km away to the coast. Charged us an arm and leg and left us at a hotel which then went onto charge us another arm and a leg. That left us totally limbless and incredibly pissed off! What can you do at 4am - so we just went to bed. In the morning we discovered the town was called Huanchaco. It is probably really nice in summer but it was overcast and cold and I decided it was time to move on. Lima here I come. It was a 10 hour bus ride. The scenery was amazing it was very mountainous but very dry. It felt like we were driving on the moon in some parts. Very strange. Arrived in Lima very late and grabbed a cab to a hostel in my guidebook. It was horrible but on the plus side it had a room free so at least I didn't have to roam the streets at ten at night. It was really smelly so I sprayed some deodorant and went to bed. It was miserable.
I woke up tired and ready to leave for La Paz. The bus terminals are all over the city, so I decided the best plan would be to get an agency to book my bus journey to La Paz - BIG MISTAKE!!!!!! It seemed ok. The agency arranged the whole journey - bus to Tacna, taxi to Arica, hostel in Arica and then a bus to La Paz. A total of 40 hours travelling! However no one told me Arica was in Chile. So instead of just crossing into Bolivia - I had 2 border crossings. It didn't help therefore that when I got to Chile with no local currency that no accommodation had actually been booked. I was stranded in the area of the bus terminal, no money and it is getting dark. Why oh why? No one cared. It was very frightening to be so alone. So off to a money changer - I have money. Find a phone - they won't take my call. Sod this - find a hostel and check in. I am safe and that is the really important thing. So I am in a box, no tea and oh by the way I don't have a charger for Chile so no computer and no phone. It really is the pits. Silver lining - there always is one. Well I'm scraping the barrel but all I could think is that at least my bus tickets weren't fake. They had charged me so much money that if I had had to pay again for the bus tickets it really would have been dreadful.
The next day I am up and on my way to the bus station with plenty of time - nothing is going to stop me getting to La Paz for the 15th. The bus was due to leave at 9.30 but doesn't arrive until 9.45 - at least it turned up. They are now rushing and want to get off. I am eager too, so I am surprised when I can't get on the bus. They keep asking for a ticket but I have one of those. Ahhhhh what the bloody hell do they want? I cannot miss this bus. I race back to the ticket office. Apparently I need a ticket to show I have paid the bus station tax. I have been in this bloody bus station for over an hour and not one person had mentioned this at all. And yes you guessed it there is a stupid queue. I finally got the ticket and me an my very heavy bag raced through the station and do you know what I took no prisoners. If you were in my way then you were going down. I only just made the bus. Off we went - nothing could stop me now surely!!!! We went through Chilean customs with no issues. It is really high altitude here. I felt very dizzy and it was hard to carry my backpack. I felt exhausted and it was really hard to breathe. One woman passed out in the queue. We then drove 40 minutes to the Bolivian crossing./ Everything seemed to be OK until the driver came on and made an announcement. It sounded like he said we were going back to Chile. People started to shout and scream. Then the bus turned around. Oh my God we are going back. I asked this rather unfriendly looking traveller what was happening - I had smiled earlier at him but he had sneered at me. He condescended to speak to me. A woman had come through with no passport and Bolivian customs had demanded that we take her back to Chile. That added 2 hours to our journey - I couldn't believe it. It was therefore such a relief to finally arrive in La Paz even though it was much later than expected. It is a really beautiful city to drive into at night as you go down into the valley and the city and all it's lights are spread out before you. It is an amazing sight. So I had finally arrived in La Paz and for a birthday treat I am spending the night in a hotel. It was so nice. The porter showed me to my room and I acted like this was nothing unusual but when he left I had to scream in utter relief at being in such a clean warm room. The bed was huge and it had a feather duvet and not one but 4 feather pillows. Feathers!!!!!!!! Which pillow to use? All of them! I even had room service - steak, egg and chips. I ate as if I had never seen food before. It was the perfect night and a lovely way to see my birthday in. I went to bed with a happy belly and a happy mind!