Un mese tra il Peru e la Bolivia

Intervista a Florencia Capetanópulos

Which one from the two you prefer? Why?

It is difficult to answer to this question because although they are brother countries, they share a lot of culture but they are very different from each other at the same time.
But I think I would stay with Peru. Maybe because of the good service and reception I always had. People are very kind and always willing to help you.

Did you notice something that the two places have in common? Which one are the differences?

The culture and the way of dressing.
Peru and Bolivia are two countries that to this day preserve their roots very well. In comparison with Chile (my country) and Argentina, which despite the fact that we share the Andean culture with them. We are much more westernized. I don’t see it as a bad thing, but it was nice to be able to see how proud the people are and that the history, their history, is preserved to these days.

 Which one is the best memory that you have about both of the two places?

My best memory was when I went to the animal sanctuary. All this was included in the package I paid (very cheap and very good) with the agency “selvaventuraiquitos”. I love animals and being able to see them in their natural habitat is very rewarding. The place where they took us, is a rescue center for monkeys and other exotic animals that were once the product of illegal animal trafficking. It is a non-profit foundation. The best part was playing with the monkeys. I think it’s the most beautiful experience I’ve ever had. They would jump on your shoulder, hang from your arms and legs. You could have direct contact with them. Very cute. 

Which one from the two countries has the most breathtaking landscapes?

After having spent 5 days in the Amazon without light, electricity, eating always the same things, with a lot of heat, full of mosquito bites. I was living literally in the jungle. We arrived at a place in Peru called Huacachina. It was a real oasis in the middle of the desert. In fact, it’s the largest oasis in America. The hostel where we stayed was very cheap (Actually everything was too cheap in both countries but it was a 5 star hostel in my opinion). It had a pool with a bar. So you could swim and sit and eat in the water, very nice. It was close to several bars, the atmosphere was very youthful. You could do sandboarding, bougies and watch the sunset in the desert. It was really beautiful and comforting after our experience in the jungle.

Talking about food, how did you find it? Which one is the best?

People say that Peru is a country that stands out for its gastronomy.
Maybe I wasn’t in the right places to prove that was true but I didn’t really find anything special about it. It wasn’t bad at all but to say that they have very good food, in my opinion is a bit exaggerated. On the contrary, my friends did find it very tasty. So I guess that’s going to depend on each person. I think I found the food in Peruvian restaurants in Chile much more delicious than in Peru.
If I have to choose between the two countries I’ll take the Peruvian food. The restaurants have much more variety. Bolivia has a lot of fast food, not very good actually and they all sell the same things: Chicken fries or hamburgers. The only place where we ate a little better, was in Loki (hostel) La Paz. It is a very famous hostel chain dedicated to young people. Every day there are theme parties and the atmosphere is a bit like the movie hang over. There is a Loki in several cities. I totally recognize it. Nothing to say about their food. You have something for all tastes but it’s not the typical food of the country. We also didn’t find places where they were selling typical Bolivian food. Except when we went to a very nice city called Sucre. It’s the most touristically developed city. The restaurants we went to were very good but much more expensive than in the other cities. I highly recommend that city. It’s beautiful and the people are very nice.

What impression did you have at first about the two places? 

Looking at the tourist side, it’s a little disorganized … Bolivia more than Peru. Many times we were picked up very late or certain activities were cancelled due to lack of time on the same tour. But I must emphasize the cordiality of the Peruvian people. They are very friendly people. On the contrary, we did not get a very good impression of the people in Bolivia. They were always very angry and it seemed as if they really did not like having tourists knowing their country. The people who were selling souvenirs, were not very available to serve you well or anything.
It was like they didn’t want to sell. But it was our experience.
I have met many people who have made an excellent first impression on Bolivian people. 

Which one from the two places has the best lifestyle? (In your opinion)

Peru. Both are very underdeveloped countries. There is a lot of poverty in both countries. But Peru has been concerned with promoting mass tourism in its country. It is their main source of economic income.
Peru knows perfectly well how to receive a tourist. They treat you as if you were a king, In summer many young tourists come to these countries and Peru have prepared environments for us to feel more comfortable.
Hostels are very well adapted to the type of public they want to attract also the activities and tours. There is quite a lot of nightlife. Especially Cuzco. It is a beautiful city, with a lot of history and receives many people a year. 

In which one of the two places will you go again?

I think I’d like to go back to both places. As I said before, each country has something differences to give, plus in both countries I have very good memories. I would like to be able to get to know the Bolivian Amazon.
I would also love to go back to Sucre or the floating “Islands of the Uros”, also in Bolivia. I think it was my favorite place.
I have never seen anything like this. They are a set of artificial living surfaces made of totora, an aquatic plant that grows on the surface of Lake Titicaca. Families have their homes built on these islands, they go to the city from time to time to look for supplies. But all their life they make it there.
We had the opportunity to stay one night with one of the families (paid obviously but very cheaply). The rooms they had prepared were like paying for a hotel and it was very comforting, as we had been sleeping in very uncomfortable beds for several weeks. Compared to the other cities. The people here were very kind, humble people who lived from this. You can do day tours around Lake Titicaca as you might have the option of staying one night, and see how they live. They took care of us very well. 

Do you regret not having done something during this experience?

Yes. We couldn’t do several activities because they were quite expensive, so we always had to choose between two. I regret not having paid for the bougies in Huacachina. It looked very entertaining.
I also regret that I didn’t take pictures of us in that beautiful place! I don’t know why I didn’t. I usually record and take pictures of everything new I know. But I think I was so concerned about admiring the beauty of that place and impressed with everything that I totally forgot. A pity because I have seen very beautiful pictures of other people in that place. I only have a very short video.

Would you suggest to someone to visit Peru or Bolivia?

Totally. They are very beautiful countries and there is a lot to see and do. South America in general is a continent that has a lot to show. And these two countries what I highlight most is how cheap it is. You can eat very well for very little and stay in very good and very cheap places. The tours are also very cheap so most of the time you can do all the activities you planned.

Leave us a general comment about your experience and tell us more if you want to tell us something particular

I think that like every trip, you’re going to encounter good and bad experiences. But bad experiences will always help you avoid going through the same thing somewhere else. I have more good experiences than bad. I loved being able to travel among friends. It’s nice afterwards to be able to remember moments together.
I always recommend before you travel. See online a reference of tour prices or hostels or things in general. If they see the opportunity to charge you more than what something really costs, they will. Especially if the tourist doesn’t speak the language. If they go out to eat or to discover the city, go out only with the necessary money. And keep your cameras or cell phones on you and use them only when necessary. Yes or yes if you go to Bolivia, you must pass through Uyuni. That was our last destination since from Uyuni we could cross the border with Chile by land and return to our home. It is better to go to Uyuni in February because when it rains, the salt flat becomes a real mirror and seeing the sunset there is something wonderful.

Thanks to Florencia Capetanópulos for taking part to the “Experience” project. We hope you the best.

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