Bolivia - I
|Approaching the Isla del Sol|
By the way, does anyone else think it's amazing - it happens to me in Europe too, that you can practically walk from one country to another, without having to pay the enormous price we do to get off this gigantic island stuck way down there in the middle of nowhere in the Pacific?
There is however, much more cultural homogeneity here than in Europe. This is most likely because the Incas ruled from Quito in Ecuador through to Peru, Bolivia and northern Chile and they were followed by the Spaniards who ruled for the best part of five centuries, whereas Europeans were able to maintain their separate cultures for much longer. There is a sameness to the cities too -big churches, lots of Plazas called Plaza de Armas more often than not, big sprawling markets, no front gardens, no trees. If there are gardens, they are carefully contained within courtyards or squares and are not visible to casual passersby. Boxed in by the Andes and with very little arable land, I expect that there was not much room for landscaping.
I had to look twice that I hadn't mixed up the pictures of Puno with Copacabana which is also on Lake Titicaca and also had island tours.
The Isla del Sol was not a reed island but a solid one and was considered the birthplace of both the sun and the Incas. For this reason I was expecting something quite monumental of the Templo del Sol.
|An Inca guards the start of the Inca steps|
|The Templo del Sol|
When I arrived in town and started looking for the place I had booked, I discovered that my glasses were missing. It was dark now, but after asking at the bus station first to see if anyone had found them, I took a mini cab back where we had left the bus to see if I had lost them there. No sign of them of course. At the police station where I also asked, the officer just laughed. Someone who translated for me said that he said that if anyone found them, they would never hand them in even if the prescription didn't suit them.
Then the cab driver drove me round and round the town taking me to many different hotels because he couldn't read my writing in my little book either. I also persuaded a couple of concierges to ring around, but no -one admitted to having my booking. If you book and don't turn up, they bill you anyway, but eventually I was so tired and frustrated that I just stayed at one of the places where he pulled up just to get some sleep.
My first mission in the morning since I couldn't even see enough to use a computer was to find an optometrist, but there was none. The nearest optometrist was in La Paz they said and when I looked in the little shops and chemists I couldn't even find a pair of magnifying glasses. At last I found an expensive magnifying glass used to check if notes were forged, and now being able to read the address and the phone number, I finally found my hotel. They forgave me for the missed night provided I stayed another couple of days, so I said yes, especially as I was starting to feel a bit poorly and appreciated having a room to myself for once. It also cost less than the hostels I had been staying in in Peru.
When I could appreciate it, Copacabana was in fact a nice little town, friendlier than Puno and a bit more tourist -oriented. One street leading down to the water was all coffee shops, little grocers, handcraft stalls and gringo restaurants and the food was nicely presented, although the World Cup was ever present.
|Little restaurant where I had breakfast. It also served vegetarian food|
|The Moorish influenced cathedral dates from 1605|
|Caution! bus crossing|
|What the barges looked like -glad we weren't on them|