Monday, November 21, 2011

Copacabana and the Island of the Sun

Picking right back where I left off, Veronica and I traveled by bus from La Paz to the border city of Copacabana on Sunday morning. The bus ride was simply stunning.

La Paz city is kind of in a valley. The trip to Copacabana was on the ¨Altiplano,¨which is the super high-altitude plateau surrounding La Paz. Honestly, words cannot even describe. I have never seen a sky so big. We were literally on top of the world. And the! It was as if I could reach up and swipe my fingers through them if I had a good enough jump. I have pictures but, due to technology restrictions, I won´t be able to post here. Check Facebook in a day or so.

Copacabana is a city that sits right on Lake Titicaca. It is quite rural, which is a wonderful change of pace from bustling La Paz. So quiet!

After checking into a really cute (and...ahem...rustic) hostal, Veronica and I headed to Copa´s main attraction: a huge, stark white cathedral. I´ve got some awesome pictures of that, too. The Cathedral is the home to ¨The Virgin of Copacabana,¨which, from what I´ve pieced together is a big deal. Apparently, a piece of wood washed up on Copa´s shores with what appeared to be a lady carved on it. Despite the Spaniard´s attempt to discredit this artifact, many Bolivians today believe that the virigin specifically watches over Bolivia. We haven´t actually seen the virgin yet because there was a mass in service when we were there. We´re hoping to go back tomorrow before our bus to Puno, Peru.

We finished the rest of the day with a hike up to a ¨wishing¨altar on top of a mountain. Sounded like a good idea while we were standing at the bottom of it. Several puffs of the inhaler later, Veronica and I were sitting atop, making wishes (due to come true in a year).

I wish that this story had a happy ending that did not involve Veronica getting a nasty case of food poisoning (we suspect a meal of trout is the culprit), but...that wouldn´t be very South America-like. While she recovers, I wonder if I shouldn´t make another trip to the top of the wishing altar to wish for my health.

But she is a true champion. Today (Monday) we took a boat to the nearby Isla del Sol to look at, besides amazing views, old Inca ruins. Incans believe that their god was born on the island and created the sun and moon here. Again, words cannot describe. Pictures are only marginally better. Hopefully I will be able to post pics tomorrow once we arrive in Puno.

We´ve hiked a lot the past couple days (of course the Isla del Sol ruins were on top of another mountain), so we´re hoping the next couple days leading up to our Inca Trail hike will be restful.

Side notes: (1) The hot chocolate here is unbelievable. They literally grind chunks of cooking chocolate into a steaming cup of milk. (2) Pepto-Bismol is a godsend. (3) Listening to a tour guide describing a sacrifical ceremony in a foreign language is equally as challenging as entertaining. (4) The weather has been outstanding. (5) The sun is 500903479 times stronger up here -- Copacabana is roughly 3,800 m above sea level.

Can´t wait to get back and tell you more!

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