Thursday, December 08, 2005

Copacabana and Lake Titicaca

Got up today for another great adventure. We are off to Copacabana, Lake Titicaca and the Isla de Sol. Interesting drive out of La Paz.. the traffic is crazy and as usual, people are everywhere! A little disconcerting to see older ladies doing so many different jobs, from selling fruit, cleaning 4WD jeeps for men in slick suits, even working on the roads rebuilding where there are potholes, all in their traditional clothes! No surprise that women do so much - but here the Andean women are ¨muy fuerte¨ - very strong, in so many ways!!

Saw our first road block today, with Evo Morales´ (one of the presidential choices for the upcoming election) supporters waving their blue and white flags...quite a peaceful road block, however due to other parts of the road to Copa being closed, our bus had to take a detour off-road... and i do mean off-road. Quite exciting at times i have to say.. but we made it through!

Met two lovely boys on the bus from Argentina - Mateus and Sebastian. To quote Dominique - cos she described them so well- Mateus is a throw back to the 70´s with a mix of Andean fashion thrown in there, and a nice handlebar-ish type moustache, whereas Sebastian is Mr Cool, with the designer sunglasses, and the super white white tshirt with his fabulous blankie tied around his shoulders.. oh so cool! An interesting mix as they are best friends.. but very nice to us, especially when we required the bano in a big way, while waiting for the bus to get across the water - yup we all had to take the boat across to the other side of the island on route to Copa.... We had some great nights out with them while in town..there was a fab bar that their friends owned, with great live music from David, special guest singer from Italy - who we later find out is actually from Columbia - go figure! Anyway, lotsa fun with them as well, and we also met up with some other, old and new friends! Bumped into Christoph from Cuenca, and made a new friend in Anita from Germany.. so another great social occasion to be had..oh yes and then there were the 3 Irish boys from Dublin, and Damien and Brendan, also Irish, Alice from Australia studying in Buenos Aries... its amazing the people you meet on your travels!!

Copacabana itself is a small, incredibly relaxing place on the edge of Lake Titicaca. The weather was fab, super sunny and we toodled around town when we arrived. The boys gave us their recommendation for a hotel.. the Ambassador. A little basic - think Bates Motel with slightly more friendly people, but at $3 a night we really couldnt complain! Just before sunset, we decided to walk up Cerro Calvario, a mere 3966m high, where the stations of the cross have been built. As you walk up (pilgrims - and me) placed stones on each station for "buena suerta", yes again with the good luck"). This wee hill was nothing for us professional hikers - yeh right, i was puffing yet again, damn this altitude!!! The view from the top is incredible, and we watched the sunset with our snickers bars and diet coke, thinking this is the life - ok we meant to have wine and smoked salmon but couldnt quite get our act together.

As the guide book says, Lake Titicaca is a brilliant splash of blue amid the land locked country of Bolivia. It is HUGE, seriously! more than 230km long and at a height of 3820m, among the worlds highest navigable lakes, straddling both Peru and Bolivia. We decided taking the regular tourist trail of a boat to Isla del Sol and then walking across the island wasnt enough for us - no way! So we walked from Copa to Yampupata - a mere 4 hours away. Hilarious trying to get directions from the official tourist office. Hmnnn ..clearly we were interrupting her working on her nails, and obviously not many people do the hike as we got about 10 different versions of how to start the walk, including one of the men in our hotel, showing Dominique a beautiful watercolor map that had absolutely no streets on it at all .. yes, that was very helpful!- thank you!!

The hike to Yampupata was incredible, so quiet with just us on the road, and a few giggling school girls who thought my limited Spanish was hilarious! The views were incredible and the weather was just perfect. A wonderful time, well, except when we passed the guys blowing up part of the road with dynamite.. quite funny as we asked them if we needed to make a run for it, (seriously - one guy was drilling the holes and two other guys were coming up behind him and putting in the dynamite!).

So after charting our very own wee boat to take us across to the island, we arrived at Yumani, on the south of Isla del Sol. Funny story, when we got off the boat, this very cute wee girl came up to Dominique and asked if she wanted to take her photo. Now we do know that this usually means the child wants to be paid, so we said no a few times but she was so sweet and insistent we said ok. Literally 2 seconds later, her 2 pals zoomed into the shot and after we showed them the pic, they said "Hey pay up, Gringos always pay!". Hmmn the innocence of youth, gone forever. But it is a cute pic of them...

Up the Inca Staircase to our hostel, an even sweeter deal that Copa at $2.20 a night.. outrageously cheap!!! Went for dinner to the local pizzeria and met Lucia, the owners daughter who took quite a shine to us! Isnt she beautiful!Next morning, we headed off early on our trek across the mountain route of the island rather than the playa/beach option. The views were spectacular, I loved seeing the road we had traveled and where we were going.. and it was yet another perfect hike. Visited a number of Inca ruins at Chincana before heading down to Cha´llapampa to catch the boat back to Copa. Spent some time hanging out with the local wee boys playing keepy uppy for a while. Great fun and as always, they are so open and just want to talk (this time no cash was involved!) and practice their English!.
Thoroughly enjoyed this relaxing interlude in our travels, and yet again could have stayed here a few more days.. oh well, off to the jungle next!!!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi its ruth. so good to hear your amazing adventures, i can't wait to buy the book. perhaps we could make it into a musical too, 'Stef's Odyssey..'
think of you very often, keep up your great energy and are obviously putting your all in to this trip and getting back so much as well!
love from spring hill...

6:59 AM  

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