Isla de Sol, no roads just donkeys
Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
84Trip End Jul 06, 2011
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From the border, it was 8 miles to Copacabana. For once, I was not entirely sure of my plan. I wanted to stay on the Isla de Sol, but this was dependent upon the return boat schedule and bus schedule to La Paz. It only took 30 minutes of lugging my bags around to work out I could spend one night on Isla de Sol. I had no hostal booked, but knew there would be hostals waiting at the other end. Seeing as I was unwell again this morning, I elected for a Bolivian hot dog with Fritas, and my first taste of vinegar on the whole trip. Around most of the Americas, there is no sign of vinegar, do they not know how great it tastes? Maybe I'm biased. I also had my first espresso of the trip. It was recommended in the guide book and I do love a tasty espresso. Most of the coffee so far has been a pot of hot water and a jar of Kenco.
I board the boat early and end up sitting next to a very pleasant girl from Guernsey, UK. Her name was Phillipa, a chef, who spent 7 years in Switzerland, 2 in New Zealand, 2 in London, before returning home to set up her own restaurant. She has managed to pay herself back her director loan and business is good. She is able to close the place down for two months while she tours Bolivia and Peru with a company called Gap. She elected for some time off the tour to spend by herself. Conversation was great and made the journey to Isla de Sol very short. Took time to leave the boat, ie a 3 foot gap between pier and boat meant climbing ungracefully with bags and ass hanging out. Phillipa was met by a young boy and his donkey for the trek up an painfully steep hill.
I grabbed my return boat ticket, and got chatting to a lad of maybe 5 or 6 asking if I needed a place for the night. Of course! He said it was up the hill and I could see the room first and then decide. Just before I started the climb, I bumped into Phillipa again and agreed to meet for dinner that night. This young lad offered to carry my rucksack, but my big rucksack was longer than him, so I started this climb with both bags. Ahem, after maybe 20 seconds, I dumped my smaller rucksack on him and continued. he was moving at such a pace that I had to regularly stop and say '(breath breath) han (breath) g (breath) on a moment'. I'd lean over, hands on my knees, breathing out my ass! I'm not sure whether the little nipper was mocking me or trying to make me feel better, but he also had his hands on his knees, but wasn't breathing like me, and when I stood up, he was off again. This stop start action happened about 7/8 times. My body was in agony, I could barely get oxygen in my lungs and starting to feel very faint! Finally, we made the top. I was introduced to the hostal owner, but it took me around 3/4 minutes to regain my composure and string a sentence together. What a great tactic, take me up a crazy steep hill, then ask if I like the room? Of course I did! I was hardly going to venture off in search of another one. I did pay over the odds, but that meant 9 quid instead of 6 quid. Nothing to really complain about. In my room, I collapsed on the bed and slept for an hour, heart racing away still and trying to breath regularly enough to get some oxygen inside me.
When I finally come around, I'm feeling better. I have a few hours before dinner so grab my pack and set off for the ruins of Pilko Kaina.
Unfortunately dinner was a no show. I guess in such modern times, we forget how much we rely upon a cell phone or an IM to sort out meeting someone. Like the idiot I am, I sat around waiting for 90 minutes, just in case she was late, or I had the wrong time or whatever. Hunger came and went and I called it an early night. Not sure which hostal she was in and seeing as she had a further climb up the hill, maybe wasn't feeling so well. Nevermind.
I had another sleep interrupted by a severe rain storm, just as loud as the storm in the Tambopata National Park of Peru, that time I had no window, so the storm was very loud. Here, on Isla de Sol, a tin roof, so no chance of sleeping, plus it was so cold, that I slept with my hat and gloves on.
Miles walked 1.67
Temp 24 C 76 F
Day 23 January 26th - After a noisy night of rain, I'm concerned about the paths for my walk today. How muddy will they be? Am I going to destroy my only proper pair of shoes? The hostal provided breakfast of bread rolls with butter and jam, coffee, and a banana and something smoothie, which was very tasty. I sat and had breakfast with a German couple, very pleasant conversation for an hour.
OK, it's 9am, I want to be at the dock by 330pm at the latest, so have 6 hours to explore the Island.
After 30 mins, I came to the end of a trail, I ended up squeezing through some bushes, climbing over a wall, walking behind some sort of shed, climbing another wall, and finding a path used to move donkeys. I'm constantly climbing, but not suffering like the day before. I pass a Brazilian couple who look lost and then see the summit of the mountain Cerro Santa Barbara. At the top is a cross erected on a pile of stones. The view from the top made me appreciate the size of the island and the beauty it holds.
Ahead, I spot another mountain top, so walk over to that hill top and then find myself stuck. The only way was down and there was no path, just 3/4 foot drops, fields of crops to walk through as well as fields of mint to walk through, so instead of going back the way I came I figured I could slowly descend from this mountain, and just take my time about it. I managed to descend in a zig zag fashion down this hill, surviving small drops, walking through fields of mint, squeezing through more bushes. One could say I was lost, but I'm on Isla de Sol in Bolivia, I just happen to be in a tight squeeze!
I concluded the drop by having to sneak through a little farm, sadly seeing a donkey who must have fallen from the top and I'm back on a path and I'm climbing again. My fast pace on the flats has reduced back to a slow canter. I turn a corner and am faced with a large cow and her calf, with 3 donkeys behind them. The cow is chewing on some grass but it looks to me like I'm scaring the little one. I stand there frozen, the cow looks at me, and I look back. Would a cow head butting you hurt? Luckily, the lady moves the cow on and I continue to Bahia Kea, a beach in one of the coves. To reach the beach, I walked down a staired path, for a good 15 minutes, so who knows how long that will take to walk back up.
Walking along the beach, I pass some guys juggling and a school and found a bench in the shade to evaluate where I was and what I should do next. After 30 mins of relaxing, I had no choice but to walk back to my hostal. It had been 3 hours up until this point, so can't risk missing the boat and then miss a bus to La Paz.
Yes that steep staired path took a good 40 minutes to climb, I chat to a Korean guy on the way up, any excuse to stop and breathe. This time, I would take a different route back, on the west side of the Island.
Back at the hostal, I rest for 5 minutes, grab my rucksack and head down the original path I climbed up with the young lad the day before, to go find some lunch. Seeing as I hadn't had dinner the previous day and been walking all day, I was fairly hungry! Lunch consisted of a local cafe, I was given a menu with 12 options, and after 5 mins, was told only two were available. I chose spaghetti with tomato sauce. Food was obviously cooked to order as it came out 30 minutes later and it was perfect, great taste and a wonderful view to add.
Boat back to Copacabana was slow and the sun was burning on my face. I had enough time in Copacabana to check some football scores, seeing Utd win at Blackpool made the evening so much better. What also makes my days better are receiving comments on my blog. No matter how the day is going, someone spending a few minutes to add a few comments makes my day!
There seemed to be some confusion on which bus I was on, but found one I did and off to La Paz. The first hour of the route tested my nerves. You've all heard about or seen the dangerous road in Bolivia (Top Gear Xmas special couple of year ago) well, we were not on that road, but the road we were on took us around mountains and there were no safety barriers. Even some of the flatter straights had large ditches either side of the road, so sleepy I was not, my eyes were fixed on the road.
After an hour we came to part of Lake Titicaca that needed to be crossed via boats. That meant the passengers catching a small fishing boat to cross the river and the bus, well, driving onto what I'd describe as military landing vehicles. Sadly it was so dark that I couldn't take a picture of our bus crossing the river. Instead, I picked up some local food, fritas and sliced fried sausages with mustard. Cheap and tasty. Only another 4 hours till we hit La Paz.
Miles walked 4.86
Temp 25 C 80 F