Country Number 2- At last!
After having spent the last 5 months in llama Land, I awoke bright and early with the sun, happy that a new frontier and a very exciting one at that, was only a few hours away.
We ended up taking a direct bus from Puno to asmall town just inside the Bolivian border, named Copocabana, having tried and failed bartering with various taxi drivers, rying to find a cheaper fare.
The journey was rather uneventful and we soon reached the Peru-Bolivia border post after only two hours of driving. Crossing into Bolivia was remarkably easy,except for the frowning and very serious official, who tried to question my being in his country for the last 5 months or so. A simple bit of persuasion though and he gave up the fight.
On actually crossing the border, I was a little sad, as i was now saying goodbye to the country I hd got to know pretty well over the past five months. No more Ceviche, Inca Cola or dodgy Peruvian soap operas. Who knows just how long it will take to come to terms with this!
Somebody had told me once though that change is almost always a good thing and so despite having to get used to yet another new currency, I crossed the border expecting something different from the country, seeing as I was entering a new land. To be fair, border towns are usually unexciting places at the best of times, but this was quite possibly the least exciting I had se foot in, for the very reason that it was almost identical to that on the Peruvian side of the border. Everybody spoke the same language, women wore the same brightly colored Andean clothes and idential suveigners were forced in our faces yet again. The only difference I could make out, was a different coloured flag flying and a new currency with a shocking rate of commission, being sold from open fronted grubby shops, with bottles of mineral water and toilet rolls stacked to the ceiling.
Luckily our bus driver soon belowed that it was time to leave and head to Copocabana, the small town on the shore of lake Titicaca. We arrived just before sunset and after dumping my pack in my very spacious en-suite room, had to frantically search for my torch, buried in the hidden depths of my rather disorganised backpack. You guessed it- Copocabana was gripped by a blackout, which had already lasted nearly 6 hours. All very appropriate I thought for a country I had heard was basic in many ways.
I ended up spending my forst night in Bolivia with Jess and two very entertaining chaps, a dive instructornamed randy who hailed from Arkansas, but now resided in the Carribean and a very Scandinavian Norwegian named Karl, who also sounded very American.
With a disitnct lack of power, we shared dinner and a few amber nectars by aid of candle light. It was all very romantic, but once again the love of my life was missing from the table. Maybe I will find a beautiful young Argentine and seduce her with my tango and spanish speaking abilities in B.A!
After a fantastic nights sleep, aided by the waves gently lapping the shore just below the hotel, I feasted on a buffet style breakfast and bid a farewell to the other three, taking yet more email addresses, promosing to see each other again in another city.
Just after lunch, I caught a two hour boat to the famous Isla Del Sol,a rather small, but highly recommended island just off of the ´ coast´. It proved a slow and rather uncomfortable voyage, as we rocked and rolled over the huge waves, more suited to that infamous pasage south of Ushuaia. The journey was made a little more bearable, when i eventually plucked up the courage to start talking to a Bolivian girl, who from the start had kept staring at me, before looking away and smiling everytime I caught her gaze.
No sooner had I stepped onto solid ground, so I was greeted by a young boy who offered to take me to the small village uhill from the port. He told me a little about the island and introduced me to some more of his friends, children with grubby hands and faces, but with big smiles and personalities to match.
Although the village was only 100m or so above the lake, i had to stop a few times to catch my breath on the steep steps, considering that I was already nearly 3900m above sea level ( Higher than Mount Cook in NZ! ).
Having travelled with my friend Richard last year, I have come to aquire his fondness for useful and less useful information and so for this reason thought you may be interested to learn that Lake Titicaca is often claimed to be the World´s most highest navigble lake. I for one though am a little confused by this claim though, as the word ´ navigable´ is a little hard to explain.
In Daniel Ryan´s dictionary, if you can sail a boat on a space of water, without crasking or becoming grounded instantly, then it can be considered Navigable. I certainly saw at least one lake in Peru, which met this criteria and was 700m higher than Titicaca. I would certainly award Lake Titicaca ´ The Worlds largest highest navigable lake.´ My geographical knowlwdge tells me that there are no other contenders there.
After thanking my new found amigo and giving him some small change, i found a nive hostel, situated right on top of a hill, offering terrific views of the lake, distant snowcapped mountains exceeded 6000m and sunset, which makes the island so well known. I indeed spent my first evening sitting up on a rock, far from anybody else, watching the sun slowly slip behind the horizon, putting my camera through its paces in the process. As the sun slowly retired for the evening, so I watched children run freely about the rocky streets, sharing space with donkeys, sheep and mothers calling after them!