Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Island in the sun: Isla del Sol, Bolivia

        Uh oh, the 90 days on my visa are over. Guess that means only one thing: vamos a Bolivia! Perfect timing, too. After hanging out in Cusco for over 2 months straight, I was starting to get claustrophobic in this little city. Time to spread my wings and fly. Shelby and I returned to our favorite little get-away just across the Peru-Bolivia border. I´ll give you a hint, ¨At the copa, Copacabana!¨ Shout out to Duncan: we missed you! We got to relax and bask in the glorious weather and beautiful, blue Lake Titicaca. First thing on our agenda: wine and hot tub on the cliffside over-looking the lake. Although it was a cloudy sunset, we got to watch a wicked lightning storm across the lake. 

Cheers to our favorite hot tub

        The next morning, we hopped on a boat to the Isla del Sol. The island in Lake Titicaca on the Bolivian side. When we arrived in Bolivia the day before, the weather was so-so. Rainy in the morning and a bit over-cast in the afternoon. We sure lucked out with the weather on Isla del Sol. Mucho, mucho sol! It was a small, tranquil island with lots of hills and mountains. Nice and peaceful. There is an Incan trail that loops around most of the island. The tourist employee we met told us it was only a 2 or 3 hour hike. That was a lie. It took us all afternoon. Granted, we stopped to play cribbage, and we found a secret beach and lounged there for more or less an hour. When we were actually hiking, though, we were going at a decent pace and we didn´t stop to rest. The scenery was gorgeous, though, and of course there were Incan ruins to see. Despite how exhausted we were when we finally made it back to our hostel by the north port of the island, all the hill-climbing was worth it. 
The port on the north side of the island
Beginning our afternoon-long hike all over the island

          When we returned to Copacabana the next day, we had more clear blue skies and sunshine. I wanted to go back to our favorite hot tub, but after showering I realized that I was sunburned from frolicking on the secret beach at the Isla del Sol and swimming in the lake (Whoohoo, I swam in the highest navigable lake in the world! Move aside, Crater Lake. And yes, it was cold!). To think I was worried about how I´ve been losing my Texas tan. I think I´ll work on my South American tan at lower elevations, where the suns rays aren´t so close and harsh on my skin. 
        The rest of the day was spent doing souvenir shopping and relaxing. I took a nice long walk along the lake where i hadn´t been before and found where all the locals spend quality family time together on Saturday afternoons. The closest equivalent I can think of calling it is a boardwalk, except it was made of cement along the lake, not of wood. Families picnicking, children playing and riding their tricycles, people walking and chit-chatting away. The glorious simplicity of the afternoon was beautiful to see.
         Like Cusco, Copacabana was filled with traveling Argentinian hippies. It´s funny I find myself sounding like such an old fart, thinking: ¨Oh god, more Argentinan hippies. They´re everywhere! Take a shower, and get a real job!¨ I believe the Peruvians in Cusco have rubbed off on me. I´m pretty sure they think the same thing. The Argentinian hippies are everywhere. Juggling or singing or trying to sell home-made chocolates or jewelry, peddling for money to fund their travels. It´s a different sort of lifestyle. I could  never do it. Although I can appreciate the idea of not wanting to work under ¨the Man¨ in corporate society. I still feel like they annoy tourists (like myself) and locals (as an honorary Cusquenan, like myself). I´m ok with being bugged by a local in Cusco trying to sell me hats and scarves or massages, and I´d rather support a local. I am more irritated by foreign hippies coming onto Peruvian soil trying to sell their crappy goods and sing their crappy songs, accepting money from tourists that the tourists could have given to support the locals. Just my opinion.
My favorite Wear in the World Trailblazers pic so far
Aha! A secret beach behind the ruins
Found a piece of paradise

     On the long 12-hour bus ride back to Cusco, I stayed awake to watch the scenery roll by through my window. So much beauty. I was overwhelmed with a feeling of happiness and contentment. I felt so blessed to be here in South America, on a grand adventure, living my dream. Volunteering abroad has been a dream of mine since I was a teenager in high school, as well as seeing and learning more about the world. I don´t want to sound too Disney-cliche, but I hope you keep on keeping on to make your dreams come true, too.

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