Bolivian beach town on Lake Titicaca
03.08.2007 - 06.08.2007 10 °C
On August 3rd, we caught the bus across the Bolivian border to Copacabana - a town on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca. The bus ride all together took only about four hours, and the border crossing was easy and cost nothing - great! We found a nice hotel, at the decent price of $20. Expensive for Bolivian standards, but it is fiesta time in town, and everything goes up then. It is Bolivian Independence Day on the 6th, and in Copacabana then party lasts all week.
It seems like a nice town though - the air is cold due to the altitude (Lake Titicaca sits at over 3800 meters), but the brilliant sunshine warms you up, and the lakefront and beach add some tropical flavor to the place. The lake is much more visible here than in Puno, and the water is deeper and bluer in contrast to the shallow, muddy bay which Puno sits on.
On the 4th, we slept in. Then we walked around town, looking at all the street stalls and parades for the fiesta. The town is busy with Bolivians, and so the tourists blend in more and make you feel like you are really in Bolivia. We went up to the cathedral, and saw a cool parade there, with dancers. We were really feeling the altitude though, so we went to bed early.
August 5th, we just walked around town again, taking pictures of all the activity. We found that people here have a tradition where they buy miniature versions of possessions they wish to acquire in the following year, and then have them blessed so they can become real. Very fun to watch them walking around with all these mini cars, houses, shops, suitcases full of money etc. Almost like you could see into their hopes and dreams.
Shortly after we left the hotel, we saw a girl whose bag had been slashed open – she was showing it to a police officer. I checked mine just in case – and found that it too had been cut open! One long cut down the side. I remembered hearing a strange sound earlier, and when I turned there was a little old woman right behind me. She must have taken a razorblade to my bag. Luckily, she never had time to take anything – and I obviously don’t carry valuables in my bag anyway. But still, it was unnerving, and we quickly returned to the hotel to leave the camera and my bag there in safety.
On the 6th, we once again walked around and took in the town and the busy fiesta. We thought we had seen all of the stalls, but today we found an area where all the “witches” were selling their stuff. They had all sorts of remedies for making spells and talismans. They had dried llama foetuses, weird herbs and beans, porcupine spines, skins of foxes and ocelots, emu feathers and eggs, cat feet and tails, various stuffed animals, lizard blood (?), and donkey fat (these stalls where recognizable by the display of donkey head, hooves and tail). We even saw a pair of condor wings – but by the time we returned with the camera, they had been sold.
After walking around this mayhem for a few hours, we decided that we had had enough of this place, and so we bought a ticket for La Paz in an hour, and then rushes up to pack. The trip took about four hours, including a short stint on a ferry. We checked into Hotel Torino, which had been recommended to us, and then just settled down to spend a week or so in La Paz.