Our day continued into the night after the arrival of Californian trio Tree, Stevie and six month old Soleil in their sprinter van with dog Kiki. After a few beers at camp our whole overland clan spilled into the restaurant which is part of the Oberland hotel and spent up large eating cheese and meat fondue with local beer. Because we were all camping out the back it was fun but dangerous for the bank balance to be able to charge stuff to the fake room numbers we had all been given when we checked in.
For the next few days in La Paz we pretended we had real jobs like Tree from Sprinter Life who runs on online outdoor equipment company and the couple from Landcruising Adventure. We spent much of our time sitting at the computer sorting out our chaotic mess of photos, writing blogs and making movies. Though one afternoon we shared a taxi into town with Frenchies to see the witches market which included some dried Llama foetuses and also to San Francisco Church. That day we had a fun lunch at mercado Lanza which is a huge market were every shop owner is yelling at you to come and eat at their stall. We ended up sharing a meal of the day and finished it off with a huge fruit salad at another tiny stall. Another day we caught a mini bus with all the locals up the hill to El Alto for the huge Thursday market, held every Thursday and Sunday it is rumoured to be the biggest in South America. We walked around all day amazed at the endless variety of things you could buy particularly clothing, car parts and accessories, tools and electronics.
Following a short water crossing on a dilapidated old barge with a boat driver who kept changing the price we made it to Copacabana. It truly was a beautiful place with just the right amount of tourists which equaled just the right amount of good food and Internet. The cold blue waters of Lake Titicaca lapped the shore as we ate lunch and later dinner over looking the water. Through the overlanding grapevine we had learnt that you could camp for free on the lake front at a half built hotel called Onkel Inn. Amazingly once we found the place we also found our Facebook friends 1000 Destinos and meet them for the first time. Together that night we enjoyed a lovely trout dinner followed by a very special hot chocolate made by Sol in their Combie van! We also discovered that the famous floating islands which were the main reason we had driven to Copacabana were actually two hours drive away across the border in Peru off shore a town called Puno. So after much toing and froing we finally decided the following morning, at the last moment to go to Peru for the day.
After camping again at our lake front spot in Copacabana we treated ourselves to our first paid breakfast since starting the trip. Unfortunately the pancakes were tiny and the omelet contained only eggs, but next it was off to get the Dodge blessed at the local church just for fun. We had heard about these car blessings from a few different overlanders, most recently Stevie and Tree had had their sprinter van done but we still didn't really know what to expect. Luckily we were one of the first cars there and the local florists, I guess you would call them took much pleasure in helping us to chose flowers to dress up the dirty Dodge. They even showed me how to tie my colourful blanket that I had recently brought into a backpack and over many laughs they turned me into a real Bolivian complete with top hat. Having finished the Dodge we watched in amazement at the number of other vehicles arriving, mostly locals in brand new cars each getting adorned in colourful bouquets, flower streamers, sparkly hats and window tassels. Then ten o'clock rolled around and after paying the priest ten bolivianos he said a prayer for the car then splashed more holy water then we thought necessary over the engine and even inside the car! We then followed the locals in throwing petals over the car and setting off our fire works. A few of the more exuberant people also doused their shiny new cars in champagne and the 96% whisky creating a beautiful but sticky mess.
The next day we planned to get our washing done, use the Internet then head north for the infamous Death Road drive. However with new arrivals in camp to meet, slow Internet and the washing taking all day we decided to stay another night so Will hit the Internet and I had fun playing with Stevie and Tree's baby Soleil. We all had dinner together in the restaurant come office that evening and with the fire place it almost felt like being at home. Still didn't manage to leave the next morning after Tree offered to take us rock climbing. So we spent a few hard but fun hours on the wall and returned with tired bodies, rock climbing at over 3640m takes its toll! That afternoon we showered, then lunched at our favourite cut price restaurant over the road and finally left Oberland for good.
We were very lucky to meet some amazing people during our stay at this travellers stop over and can't wait to bump into a few people we met on the road north.
Rochelle & Will