With a heavy heart and a tear in my eye, I turned and gave Bolivia a final wave on my way through the arch that marks the border between it and Peru. Well something like that anyway. I was actually kind of ready to move on in many ways and very excited to be heading towards Machu Picchu. It was also cool adding another stamp into my now impressive looking passport. But even with all that, there was a little reluctance in me as I walked out of this amazing country at the heart of South America. If they’d have been a bit more forthcoming with extending my visa I’d have definitely stayed a bit longer, and there was plenty left for me to see; Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, Tarija are all reasons I might come back. It was also such a great base for me to work. The internet’s not super fast, but it works well enough and both La Paz and especially Sucre allowed me the time to really get things going with my freelancing as well as offering vibrant and exciting places to live for a month or two.

Bolivia really felt like a different world compared to Argentina and Brazil. Nothing particularly European or familiar and a very unique culture. It’s the poorest country on this continent, but at no point did I feel in any danger. Hardly anyone here seems to beg and crime is relatively low. There are more street sellers than anywhere I’ve seen in the world, but they’re not pushy or demanding. People are poor, but living is cheap and there isn’t a feeling of desperation or depression – rather of a laid back attitude and a will to just get on with it. Don’t get me wrong, there is some serious poverty here – people still work themselves to death in the mines and old people can get left living on the streets. Corruption still exists at the top and there are plenty of political protests about that. You just don’t see the dustbin raiding that happens Buenos Aires or hear about regular drug murders like you do in Sao Paulo. Bolivia is a rugged, diverse place and I’d love to come back one day…

The border crossing itself was relatively straight forward. Our Copacabana bus stopped on one side, we got our Bolivian exit stamp, crossed through the symbolic archway to Peru and got our Peruvian entrance stamp. One thing that was an instant sign of things to come was the marked difference in the two offices. A dusty old hut of an office on the Bolivian side, with 1970’s looking furniture and garish portraits hanging in wonky frames – compared to a slick, modern building 100 metres away in Peru, complete with wheelchair ramps and air conditioning. I have to say, I kind of preferred the wonky pictures.

The bus took us on to Puno, the Pueruvian city that sits on the opposite side of Lake Titicaca where we changed onto another bus to take us on to Cusco. It was an OK ride, but not quite what we paid for. Locals tend to use passenger buses as freight carriers and these particular locals all seemed to be transporting food. So every crevice on the bus was filled with boxes of god-knows-what and the 9 hour journey became a stomach turning stink fest. Still, we made it in one piece… now on to Machu Pichhu!