Lake Titikaka, Peru to Lake Titikaka, Bolivia

Trip Start Jan 08, 2007
Trip End Mar 13, 2007

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Friday, January 26, 2007

We made it to Bolivia!!!!!!!!  Today we caught a bus from Puno, Peru on Lake Titikaka to Copacabana, Bolivia on Lake Titikaka.  The bus ride was 3 hours and the border crossing was really simple.  The bus company we bought our tickets through drop you at a money exchange first to exchange Soles (Peru currency) to Bolivianos (Bolivia currency).  Then we walked over to get our exit stamps out of Peru and then walked over to the Bolivian immigration office to get our entry stamps.  The we walked across the border and got back on the bus.  It was so simple and fast.  They didnīt even check anyoneīs bags.............I guess when most of the coca production for cocaine is occuring in these countries, I guess they figure you canīt bring anything they donīīt already have here!!!!!!!   So we arrived in Copacabana and headed down toward the lake area to find a hostal.  We grabbed a hostal with a view of the lake and headed out for lunch with a guy from Kelowna, Canada.  I ordered a hamburger and it tasted bad to me.  We have found that the beef tastes really different here, I guess because it is grass fed and not grain fed like back home.  Thatīs how it was in New Zealand also.  Anyway, I didnīt like it and Mike figured it was rottten, so I gave it to one of the many starving street dogs lingering around our table ready to devour any scrap of food that might fall on the ground.  Poor dogs!!!!!  There are so many street dogs, it is unbelievable, and they are so dirty and starving, it makes me so sad.  But then again, there are also so many street people in the same condition, which is extremely sad as well. 
So, Copacabana is on Lake Titikaka on the Bolivian side of the border.  An ancient legend says that the sun was born on Lake Titikaka and the Inca believe that their first emperor rose from the rock called Titikaka (ĻRock of the PumaĻ) on the northern tip of Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun).  Lake Titikaka or Titicaca, i donīt know, I have seen it spelled both ways, is 230 km long, 97 km wide and at an elevation of 3,820 m.  It covers over 9,000 sq. km!!!!!  Copacabana, in the 16th century, was presented with an image of the Virgin of Candelaria (now Boliviaīs patron saint), starting several miracles.  The town became a pilgrimage site and today is known for itīs cathedral, fiestas and views. 
After our lunch we headed over to the cathedral to watch the traditional colorful Benediciones de Movilidades (chaīlla; blessing of automobiles), which occurs daily  at 10 a.m. and 2:30  p.m. in front of the cathedral.  People pull up their cars, buses, trucks, etc. in front of the church, they but all sorts of flower arrangements and attach them to their vehicle so that it is decorated with flowers and ribbons.  They also buy beer or champagne to spray all over the vehicle during the blessing and to drink during this event.  Some people actually bring priests to bless the vehicle in a short service.  Everybody is drinking, even some of the children were ahving some beer. All of the flowers, ribbons, religious statues and objects, the beer and champagne are all bought from vendors sitting on the side of the road in front of the church.  It was quite the site.  We had just missed the local tradition held on January 24th (Alasitas Festival) of the blessing of miniature objects, like cars or houses, as a prayer that the real thing will be obtained in the coming year.  Also we left Copacabana just before the Fiesta de la Virgen de Candelaria.  It is celebrated on the 1st 2 days of February. 
We also visited inside the cathedral which was built between 1605 and 1820.  Inside is the famous wooden Virgen de Copacabana statue.  We also went inside the Capilla de Velas (Candle Chapel), where thousands of candles were illuminated and wax graffiti caked the walls. 
In the evening we climbed up the hill, Cerro Calvario (3,966 m), to watch the sunset.  Many pilgrims make this climb, placing stones at the stations of the cross as they ascend.  The sunset was really nice.  After the sunset we headed back down, it was getting pretty dark on the way down, but we managed to make it just in time.
We decided we didnīt have time to make the boat trip to Isla del Sol so we decided to make our way to La Paz. 
See you in La Paz..........................
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