“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”
– Gustave Flaubert
After my whirlwind 15 hours in Bogota, I took a late night flight to La Paz, Bolivia and arrived in the wee early hours of the morning. I waited a few hours at the airport for my friend Jenna who arrived on a different flight and we immedietly set off to the bus station to take a bus to Copacabana, a small town on the shore of Lake Titicaca. After doing some research, I had settled on Copacabana before the trip due to proximity to La Paz and because I wanted to see Lake Titicaca from the Bolivian side! I have been to the Peruvian side and floating isles of the Uros and was so excited to return to the beautiful lake. The bus ride to Copacabana was only three hours and included a ferry ride across Tiquana at which point the bus almost left without us! That was fun running at 12,000 ft to catch a bus.
We arrived to celebratory parade in the town square at Copacabana. Apparently is was the anniversary of the community and it was quite the site to arrive to. Marching bands, traditional clothing and celebrations greeted us as we stepped off the bus and onto the cobblestone. I had booked a hostel called La Capula, that unknown to me has quite the hill to climb. But 100% worth it. Even the embassy recommends it! It is run by a sweet man named Marcelo and is a stunning place with a view of Lake Titicaca, very hospitable staff, its own alpacas, yummy food and filled with travelers from all over the world. I can’t say enough nice things about La Capula; it was simply a delight!
We arrived at lunch time so had a lovely brunch including our first cup (of many) of fresh coca tea in Bolivia. Coca is an amazing plant and the tea is a great way to stay hydrated and help alleviate high altitude symptoms. (Much more on the coca leaf in the posts to come. I have been studying this for three years and it is fascinating!). After brunch, we went back to the town to walk around the celebrations, Jenna bought an alpaca sweater and then we went to the shore to watch one of the most stunning sunsets I have ever seen.
The way the clouds and the water reflected the light almost brought tears to my eyes! Jenna and I sat on a rickety dock above the water and just soaked it all in. It was a very special moment. We went back to La Capula for dinner of yummy curry and gnocchi goulash, a pitcher of coca tea and some wine. It was the perfect first day in Bolivia and needless to say, after all the travel, we both slept like babies. The next morning we woke up around 8, then decided to sleep in and take the latter ferry to Isla de Sol. Isla de sol is said to be where the sun was born and was definitely worth the trip and night spent. Unknown to me, I booked our hostel at the VERY top of the mountain and let’s just say that it was the most painful climb to the top. The altitude and travel exhaustion was killing us and at 13,000 feet with backpacks, I think I started to hallucinate. Meanwhile 80 year women were scuttling up the mountain with not a problem. Humbling.
Jenna and I climbed even further up after settling our stuff in the hotel for dinner overlooking the other side of Lake Titicaca. It was an amazing and fresh dinner of simply trout, quinoa soup and of course, Coca tea.
It is often the simple that are the moments I want to hold onto forever.
We passed out quickly and woke up early the next day to take the morning ferry back to Copacabana and then the bus back to La Paz. It was the perfect way to spend a little time before the rest of the hustle and bustle of our trip and there are so many moments that I am going to treasure for a while to come.