One short, crazy bus ride and we were in Copacabana on the shore of Lake Titicaca. Halfway through the bus ride, the bus pulled up near a pier and, without the driver saying a word, everyone filed out of the bus. After sitting there alone for a while we thought we had better see where everyone was going. We followed our fellow passengers onto a small ferry and watched as our huge bus drove onto a rickety little gondola to cross the lake. After chasing down our bus in the village on the other side of the lake, it was smooth sailing because there was no more unexpected sailing.
Copacabana itself was quite small with not a lot to do except relax by the shore and sneak photos of the local indigenous ladies. Luckily, Sean was still able to keep up to date with the latest fashions from Paris.
Isla del Sol
From the shore, Lake Titicaca is so vast that it looks like it could be the ocean. But its not because you’re at around 4000m altitude. After getting a “speed” boat to the Isla del Sol, the largest island on Lake Titicaca, you are greeted with a gigantic staircase up to the village. At such a high altitude and with our backpacks, it wasn’t pretty. Especially discouraging is all the local nanas who zoom past you hauling giant sacks of groceries or grandchildren. Photo depicts me pre-departure.
There was a gourmet restaurant on the top of the island that served amazing food. It didn’t have power or running water but they produced the best food we had on the island except that it possibly gave us a mild dose of food poisoning, but being in Bolivia for a few weeks had made us used to these things. We could have eaten the food on a table but we saw a group of French people eating on the ground and you know what they say, while in Bolivia…
There was a good walk from the south of the island to the north of the island with some cool scenery along the way. Still suffering from the food poisoning we opted to take the boat back to the south of the island.
While waiting to leave Isla del Sol we witnessed the delivery of all the goods for the island. Everything that is needed for the island: food, groceries and water are sent up to the town on the back of donkeys daily.
But the fun wasn’t over after leaving the island. Copacabana had one more gem to throw at us yet: a poncho museum!
The coca leaf energy drink sounded like a good idea until it appeared…actually quite tasty.
From Copacabana we said goodbye to Bolivia, the land of food poisoning, and and crossed into Peru. Puno was also on the shore of Lake Titicaca but the Peruvians have managed to pollute their side meaning that the boat out onto the lake had to drag its way through and algae sludge blanket. Bolivia and Peru are still fighting over who gets which parts of Lake Titicaca and a popular saying in Peru is that while Peru got the “titi”, Bolivia got the “caca”. From our perspective, the caca was actually a bit more appealing.
Sludging it through the Peruvian side of the lake, we made it to the famous floating islands. We were privileged enough to meet the mayor of this particular island who told us all about his floating village. Turns out he was elected unanimously by all six of the island’s inhabitants. You can see in the picture how the floating islands are formed. The roots of the reed plants get cut up and used as floation devices and reeds are layed over the top in a crosshatch to form a floor. We didn’t actually believe they were floating until a boat sped past and the whole village rocked in the wake.
The islands are constantly sinking and the cross-hatched layers of reeds have to be topped up fortnightly. The people living here were never conquered by the Inca’s and still speak the pre-Incan Aymara language.
We visited another Titicacian island but this time on Peru’s side. The native peoples marital status is depicted by their colourful clothing. The men pictured here are married because their hats are completely colourful, single men have a white section on their hat. Women always have boerboels hanging below their dress which signify their marital status depending on the size of the boaerboel. This was a bit more ambiguous.
We are a bit behind with the blogs and are actually posting this from near Ica but we should be catching up soon.
Next stop: Arequipa