Saturday 19 July 2014

Days 58 - 60: Lake Titicaca

Car ferry, Bolivia-style
The four-hour bus ride to Copacabana, on the shores of Lake Titicaca, crosses a ribbon of water about half a mile wide.  As buses can't swim, the passengers had to disembark and cross on a small boat that coughed several times before it chugged into motion, then rolled across the channel as the waves hit it side-on.  But the passengers had an easy time of it compared to the buses, which drove onto a raft penned-in by a low timber rail nowhere near high enough to prevent the vehicle from going overboard.  We sidled up to the rafts to take a closer look.  The 'floor' of each one was 'discontinuous' (being diplomatic); 'half-rotten' (being frank).  The wisdom of leaving our bags on board began to look limited.  Twenty minutes later we were on our way again, safe and sound, but I wouldn't be surprised if the shivering timbers of the odd bus or three had been left behind at some point, quaking on the bottom of the channel.

How many trucks and buses end up in the drink I wonder?
After an hour in faux-quaint Copacabana, we took the boat across Lake Titicaca to the Isla del Sol.  The journey was slow but why hurry?  The lake was a deep blue with snow-capped mountains behind; one of the most beautiful contrasts I have seen.  We continued to gape at the same views that evening as we sat drinking tea in a cafe high on the slopes of the island, then on the balcony of our hostel.  Bliss.

The next morning, the prospect was not quite so good.  Guy was feeling fluey; I had succumbed to food poisoning.  But we had a deadline to be back in La Paz for a trek with Tim and Jenny so this was our only full day on Isla del Sol.  Despite our ailments, we set out to walk the length of the island to the Inca ruins at the far end.

The path was well-made and followed the crest of the hills for a couple of hours, with views to either side.  Whatever food we'd been given in the last twenty-four hours was less well-made and by the time we made it to the Inca ruins I couldn't do much except roll around on the ground and groan - not a propitious welcome to Inca-dom.  We staggered back along the path in lower spirits than on the outward journey and collapsed onto our hostel bed.  The evening saw a farewell visit to  the same restaurant as yesterday, which looked out on the sunset and served delicious home-made food oh-so-slowly.  But again, why hurry?  The sun went for a bathe, candles flared, the night was quiet with nothing to do but relax until morning.  I splashed out on a full flask of mint tea for dinner then we called it a day.

The next morning we retraced our steps to La Paz, enjoying the view of snow-clad Huayna Potosi towering over the city as we descended into its chaotic streets.  Funnily enough, it felt like a home-coming of sorts.

The Cordillera Real provides the backdrop, Isla del Sol the terraced landscape in the foreground
The "Inca Trail" along the spine of the Isla del Sol
Harbour on the far side of the island

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