welcome to Bolivia!
01.14.2011 - 01.16.2011 70 °F
After a relatively easy border crossing from Peru into Bolivia (that included a hefty $135 tourist visa ONLY for Americans), we made our way to the small but busy town of Copacabana. It rests right on the border with Peru and is the main stop on the famous Lago Titicaca. While not the most attractive of towns (lots of trash and unfinished construction), its markets are bustling and its hilltop views of Lake Titicaca more than make up for it.
Our stay was short and direct in objective: to see the sacred Inca site Isla del Sol and relax for a bit on the Lake. Isla del Sol appears deceivingly close to Copacabana. Unfortunately, the boat technology can only get you there in about two to two-and-a-half hours. By techology, I mean two dingy motors clamped to and steered from the back of a two-story boat that seats around 75 people. The engines rumbled and droned, propelling us to estimated speeds of up to 15 KPH (about 10 MPH). So, with PLENTY of time to watch the passing scenery, we sat back and enjoyed the ride.
The two hours were worth the wait, and our three hour hike down the length of the island brought us wonderful ruins with gorgeous backdrops.
Now, no transport in South America comes without some form of adventure, whether big or small, and our ride back to Copacabana added a nice little slice of excitement in what would have been an otherwise uneventful ride back. With all of the gringos waiting on the boat, crammed onto the roof and sitting on the floor of the lower level, our fearless capitan strode down the docks...in my opinion, a bit drunkenly. His walk was a bit loose and cocky, his hair was glazed in sweat and slicked off to the side, from what I could only imagine as a long, sunny afternoon of drinking. OK, OK. Maybe it was just the sun, I thought, but when he proceeded to pick a fight with another boat captain after the boat was already untied and drifting from the dock, my suspicions seemed a bit more justified. Thankfully, it takes two captains to steer the two motors, so there was another (calmer) capitan on the bow of the ship, pushing off. As the tussle died, our fearless captain hopped onto the boat with inches to spare, and we were off.
The icing on the cake came when he tied off his motor (full throttle and steering straight ahead) with a piece of rope and walked to the front of the ship to sunbathe and take a lovely two-hour nap, leaving the poor other captain to right the ship all by his lonesome. Thank you, fearless capitan, for adding to our long list of overland, air, and water travel adventures.