Saturday, February 13, 2010

Isla del Sol

I liked Copacabana as soon as I arrived. Very small town, safe, with LOADS of vegetarian food. I think I have the very large hippie population to thank for that. Lots of crafts, and everything cheap. This was my first exposure to Bolivian prices and I was beyond thrilled.

It turns out that when you take the money stress off of traveling, it is 10 times more fun.

I immediately saw approximately 21 things I would like to purchase, but after our exhausting bus journeys of the past few days, Emma and I got down to business. Figured out how to do what we wanted the next day, the day after that, ate a great vegetarian dinner, hit our email accounts up, and got to bed.

The alarm clock went off far too early the next day. It was raining. But Isla del Sol (SUN!) was calling. The ferry takes a couple of hours to get to the top of the island, and the rain didn't let up the entire way. Nevertheless, there's a different beauty about a rainy day, so I wasn't too upset. We loaded up on food (the local flatbread, local cheese, tomato, mango, and banana. GREAT lunch). There was also a large hippie population on the island. Some serious campers in the cold.

Isla del Sol is in a stunning location right smack in the middle of Lake Titicaca, the highest, largest body of water in the world. It's so high up that the clouds feel really close to you. The northern end of the island harbors most of the ruins. Trying to avoid the large tour group, Emma and I explored the Incan ruins. I was especially excited to arrive at the rock where the sun and moon were created according to Incan lore. They let you touch it. Not only that, they let you sit on it. Stand on it. Do whatever you want on it. I love Bolivia. Touching ancient ruins would never fly in certain other countries. There was also a labrynthine Incan structure over a crest, which I was very taken with. Especially when the sun came out. One of those spots I could have just spent some time with, you know?

But we had the whole island to explore before the sun went down, and the walk from the north to the south end was supposed to take around 4 hours, so off we went.

SUCH a beautiful island in such a beautiful location. I was thrillingly content this entire day. The trail leads you along the crests of the hills that make up the island, so you get gorgeous panoramic views to both the Peruvian and the Bolivian sides of the lake. After the sun came out, the water was SO BLUE. There were wildflowers everywhere.

Note to self: traveling in the rainy season is not a bad idea, after all. Yes, your Inca Trail trip may be cancelled due to flooding and landslides, but most of the time it is not, in fact, raining. It just means that the earth is all well-watered and fertile, so everything is green, and everything is blooming. I am a big fan of the rainy season.

There were a bunch of true-to-life shepherds on Isla del Sol. I was pretty enchanted. After trying to sneak in a picture of a sheep a bunch of shepherding kids instantly ganged around me demanding money. I gave them a sip of my diet coke instead.

At the southern end of the island we came by a hostel with a stunning view of the impending sunset. Done and done. Tried matte for the first time with a bunch of Argentinians also staying there. As soon as the sun went down, it was instantly freezing. Emma and I shot straight under the covers of our bed and stayed there.

In the morning we walked down steps remaining from Incan times (I am such a nerd, I loved it), and caught the morning ferry back to Copa. Within an hour we were back on a bus, and my journey to Sorata began, which you already know all about.

P.S. I hate this catchup game. You get the main action, but who knows the profound (?) thoughts going through my head during these days? They just can't be recaptured at this point. Which is sad, since traveling gives you so much time to ponder, that's a big part of the charm and self-discovery inherent in travel. Guuuh, I'm trying, I'm trying.