Llama poo and the birth of the Inkas
We've been in Copacabana (Bolivia) for a few days now but there were a few things we got up to in Puno before we left...
With a couple of days remaining, Alex had succumbed to a rather nasty bout of tummy trouble so we were holed up in the hotel for a bit. With nothing better to do we decided it was time for haircuts all round! I must admit it was pretty successful and neither of us had to buy hats to be seen in public.
As Alex felt much better the next day, we visited the Yavari, a steamship which had been built in England, sailed to northern Chile and then dismantled before being hauled over the Andes by mule to the shores of Lake Titicaca.
The Boat had originally been powered by dried Llama dung but, as it had been abandoned in the harbour for many years, the engine had now been replaced by an oil fired version.
Later on, we found ourselves back at the quayside and caught the attention of two young girls cradling a small kitten. We beckoned them over and they sheepishly approached and sat with us for a while. Their names were Catarina, aged ten and her younger sister Meedia, nine.
They seemed to take a shine to Alex in particular with Catarina gently stroking her hand and catching sly glimpses of her grey temples poking out from under her cap. The girls were most amused at my bungled Spanish and thier older sisters sat nearby nearly wet themselves when I took the girl's photos.
Next day, we boarded the bus to Copacabana, a small lakeside town just over the Bolivian border. The Copacabana beach in Brazil is actually named after this one, mainly due to it's past, and current, religious significance.
In Inka times, the Isla del Sol, just off the shore, was revered not only as the birthplace of the first Inka, Manco Capac, and his wife, Mama Collo, but the sun and moon were created here too. In more recent times, the presence of the Virgen de Copacabana ensures that pilgrims travel from all over South America to seek her blessing, and fill the town at festival time.
We checked in to our hotel which immediately became known as the funhouse due to the crazy angles of the walls, floors and ceilings in relation to each other! WE explored what there was to see of interest in the town before retiring to prepare for a trip to the Isla del Sol in the morning... or so we thought!
Alex aquired a blinding headache and there was no water in the hotel so we decided on a change of venue and a day's postponement of the trip. We found alternative accommodation at the local Youth Hostel which, with our discount as the world's oldest youth hostellers, came to the princely sum of £3.80 per night each! I'm not saying that the bathroom was small but if you stood in the shower, it was perfectly feesable to pee in the toilet and, if you were supple enough, to was your hands in the sink at the same time! It was quickly named the Ice Palace as it was flippin' freezin' Although the days are warm, the high altitude ensures temperatures well below freezing overnight... ouch!
After a Bolivian version of a full English breakfast, we set sail for the Isla del Sol, three hours of chugging along the Lake in a motorboat built for 20 but carrying at least double. We disembarked at Challapampa in the North of the Island to see the famous birthplace of the Inkas and set off on the 21km trail that bisects the Island from north to south.
The views of the Lake and the Corderillo Real in the distance were sublime. The going was tough but it was broken up by regular breaks and hijacks by local kids with Llamas, always asking the same thing... Uno photo? and Tiene caramello?
On arrival at Yamani, we descended the Inka staircase with obligatory terracing to the small harbour below. On one side of the staircase was a channels which fed the terracing with fresh water from a spring named the Fuente del Inka. It's said that if you drink from the three pools there, you'll immediately bekome fluent inSpanish, Aymara and Quecha. If only I'd known that before I'd stumped up the cash for all those lessons at Chorlton Park! (Only joking, wouldn't have missed it for the world guys, even though you never email!!!)
On arriving back at Copacabana, we celebrated surviving the hike with Pringles and a bottle of wine, nice.
The rest of the evening went rapidly downhill and can be summed up thus... shower under trickle of warm water - out at 7- powercut - in bed by 8, fully clothed, brrrrrrrrrrrrr.
Still, it's La Paz and, hopefully, some heating, next!