Here we are in the middle of the continent with no ocean in sight, no lakes, rivers or any sight of running water. This is all soon to change when we reach what is believed to be the highest navigable lake in the world. The largest lake in South America located on the border of Peru and Bolivia. This mass of water is so big that you can easily distinguish the splash of blue on the world map.
We arrive in the small lake side town of Copacabana on another long bus ride. Out the window we see mountains and soon Lake Titicaca. Already it is so big and this is just a tiny speck of the great scale of the lake. To arrive at Copacabana we take a short cut over the water. Jumping off the bus we take a small boat over to the other side. Funnily enough our bus also takes a short cut over the water and is carried over by a float. We hope that it makes it over with all of our belongings on board!
The town of Copacabana is small and home to a small population. Arriving in town it is flooded with tourist agencies, cafes and all sorts of accommodation target at people visiting Lake Titicaca. Prices are quite cheap and we find a room with a view of the lake. The view out the window is refreshing and looks more like the ocean than a lake. From the jetty down by the shore, we will catch a boat the next day to visit Isla Del Sol known as the island of the sun. The more I discover about this lake, the more fascinated I become. A lake so big that there are islands scattered around, each with their own story to tell.
The next day brings some dark clouds, wind and a lot of rain. The idea of spending a few hours in the little wooden boat over to the island all of a sudden becomes a lot less appealing. We decided to spend the day resting and hope the weather picks up the next day. Luckily it does and when we catch the boat over, we are lucky to have no rough weather. We sit on the roof of the boat and have peaceful views all around us. Sometimes you can be in the middle of nowhere and still be hounded for your hard earned cash. On this trip, we had three groups of people busk and sell things for our money. A determined young lady was very persistent and managed to sell a few 'island of the sun' necklaces.
We arrive at the lake and walk up the Inca stairs to find a room for the night. At the top there are children with llamas hoping for you to take their picture where you pay them a small fee. Tired from the climb, I was not really interested in taking photos just yet. We continued walking until we found a hostel overlooking the lake with spectacular views. It was the middle of the afternoon and we set of for a little exploring.
The island is home to a few families and a school. Many women are seen herding llamas and sheep. Animals roam around freely but some are tied to ropes only allowing them to walk around in a little space. There are also donkeys, pigs, chickens and dogs. It is a completely different way of life on the island, all you have to do is look around to see the differences.
The next day we walk from the south side of the island to the north which takes around four hours. This path takes us up and down the island where we pass Inca ruins. Arriving at the ruins we take the time to walk through them and wonder what life was like here hundreds of years ago. Down below I see a jetty running out into the blue lake and some people are diving into the water. It looks very exotic and not a scene I thought I would see in Bolivia.
Arriving at the north we pass through farms and small villages. Soon we reach sand and we have made it to the north side. Some people are camping on the sand and it looks like a beach. The pig wandering across the sand adds to the surreal landscape.
We book a room in a hostel and it is incredibly cheap! We paid around $4 AUD each and it was comfortable inside. From our window we could see donkeys in the yard across the path. There was not much more to see at this end of the island and tomorrow we would catch a boat back to Copacabana. We eat another meal of trout and have an early night. This was not however a restful night and a wild storm came through the island. The thunder was so LOUD that it felt like it was right above our roof. Lightning bolts came down seconds after the thunder and it felt like our building would soon come crashing down. A few moments later a bright flash goes off outside our window and it looks like the power has gone out next door. I think of all the animals outside and wonder how they survive in conditions like this.
In the morning the storm is the topic of conversation and some people said they were so scared they were going to jump into bed with their friend. The morning is now calm and after a glass of fresh juice and a banana, we get into the small wooden boat that will carry us back to Copacabana. Half an hour into the trip I begin to feel so sick and get extremely hot then very cold. Sea sickness is kicking in and I probably had the ginger tablet a little too late. The feeling is terrible and all I can do is be still and focus on breathing. Being sea sick on a boat is not a good place to be when you know there is no way out. You just have to push through and wait until you arrive on land. The trip back was far different to our trip there. After what felt like hours, we made it home. My feet finally touch land and I soon feel normal again.
Our last night in Bolivia and what a journey we had! We had stayed here much longer than planed and had no regrets. Never before have we seen the vast landscapes that we did and experience a culture so different to home. Tomorrow we would catch our last bus ride in Bolivia (horary!!) and arrive in Cuzco, Peru. Another country to explore…..