Lago Titicaca – Bolivia / Peru

On Sunday we took an early bus to get to Copacabana – not in Brazil but at the shore of the Lake Titicaca. The bus left at 6.20 (!!!), an hour earlier than normal apparently due to a marathon event. What? Who runs a marathon in 4000 meters? Jeez!

Anyway, we decided not to stay in Copacabana but on the Isla del Sol, a one hour boat ride away. And I am glad we did. It is a beautiful island without any cars or streets. Only hills, small fields on terraced soil, bushes, grassland and stunning lake views. Our B&B is located right on the top so after getting there we had to walk uphill with our bags for like 30 minutes. Exhausting but pretty and enough opportunities to stop everywhere and enjoy the scenery (and catch breath). That day sat outside at a restaurant in the sun (Isla del Sol sounds about right), looking out over the lake and other islands and had dinner and home made lemonade that tastes like caipirinha. Afterwards we shared a bottle of wine and went to bed. And what a bad night we all had – wine in 4000 meters is not the best idea. That night Roxana had to wake me up because I was screaming due to night mares. Two hours later I woke up having to catch breath and ended up reading my book for two hours until I could fall asleep again (“The Help” by Kathryn Stockett – I highly, highly recommend it).

The next day we spent hiking in the sun. Or like Marius would say: Extreeemeee hiking! We ended up off the path and made our way down a very steep, terraced hill until we reached a lovely beach. Only downside was, we had to go back up. It was very cool though, no other tourists off the path, only us, donkeys and sheep. We had bought some (sugar free) biscuits to feed the donkeys and they became our best friends. If I ever end up living on a farm I will buy my own donkey, they are super cute.

The Lago Titicaca borders between Bolivia and Peru and after our stay on the Isla del Sol we took the boat back to Copacapana and then the bus to Puno in Peru. The travel day was pleasant enough. Puno has a nice, touristy center with fancy looking restaurants. The prices are a little higher than in Bolivia, but there is more selection. I accidentally ordered meat ravioli which I didn’t eat. Roxana had Alpaca steak and Marius tried guinea pig. The whole restaurant stared at his plate when the waiter served it and people tried to take pics. It was a whole guinea pig on some potatoes and veggies. Including the head. And teeth. Poor little thing…

Our first full day in Peru we spent on a tour to the islas flotantes – the floating islands. They have been constructed entirely of the buoyant totora reeds that grow in the lake. The islands are inhabited by the Uros people (2000 inhabitants on 90 floating reed islands). They constantly have to put new reed on top as it rots from the bottom, so the ground it always soft. The Uros started their unusual life on those self constructed islands in an effort to escape from the aggressive Collas and Incas (that’s how it’s described in the Lonely Planet). They don’t really like to be photographed but didn’t mind it on those touristy visiting islands we went to. It was really cool to get a glance of how those people live, 5 to 10 families on one small island, all together in one tiny hut, receiving their electric power through an attached solar panel.

The second part of the tour brought us to Isla Taquile further out on the lake where we got fed (quinoa soup and trout) and learned a lot about the Taquileños and their culture of the knitting men. They knit very fine wool to produce their hats and other textiles, while the women are mainly weaving. While the Uros speak Aymara (due to intercultural marriage with the Aymara people they have sort of lost their own language) the Taquileños speak Quechua, the most widely spoken language of the indigenous people of the Americas – known for being the main language of the Inca empire.

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