I travelled about 8km over the Bolivian border to a small village called Copacabana, which also has a beach although a much less famous one. It is on the shores of Lake Titicaca,
what is purportedly the highest navigable lake in the world at around 3800m (although i've heard that isn't true). It is more of a sea than a lake and forms the border between Peru and Bolivia. Despite being a land-locked country, Bolivia still has its own navy that patrols the lake which seems slightly ridiculous. I keep wondering what sort of person would want to join this particular navy. Anyway, it was a nice little town and I wandered up another big hill nearby to get some views and the lake looked spectacular. Because it is so high up, the sky is a brilliant blue and the water is crystal clear. Having walked out of town a few miles it is very secluded and peaceful with just the odd village and aggressive biting dog to be found. The following day I took a boat to Isla del Sol which is the setting for the birth of the Incan civilisation.
I don't know all of the history behind it but it was a very pretty place. The island runs from North to South and I planned to get a boat to the north and walk to the south and get a boat back to the mainland. Almost immediately having gotten off the boat I found myself lost, not being able to find a path going south. So I took the only path in sight north until I realised this wasn't going right and I veered off at a tangent and found myself scaling steep, rocky escarpments and making my way across country through woods and over hills which was quite exciting. It worked out fairly well as it also meant I lost the rest of the crowd that were on the boat and I didn't see a single person on my walk.
The only trouble was the locals. Call it begging or entrepreneurial but at each village or 'checkpoint' you came to along the main path (which I eventually found) they charge you about one pound for the pleasure of walking a few metres through their community. Having realised this I decided that off-road was the way to go and duly took detours to sneak past the locals. You might say that that was very thrifty of me and entirely insensitive to the needs and upkeep of the local population, but the fact is i'm on a budget and I need to eat! Towards the end of the walk, I met a worthy adversary in my bid to out-fox the local tax men. A couple of men had seen me coming down the path and sat down ready to get their cash. The trouble was that the path was the only way to go in order to avoid a big old hill straight ahead. Of course I was outraged and on principle circled around the village and headed straight up the very steep hill.
Just when I thought the game was won, however, I look round to find a local man chasing me having cottened on to my penny-pinching. I had made it most of the way to the top when he caught up with me and I decided it was only fair to reward him for his efforts. He even ran back down the hill and up again to get me some change! But it was a really lovely place and very tranquil with amazing views out over the lake and of the distant mountains. Certainly one of the nicest places i've been to so far. Next up, La Paz.
Having taken a very long-winded trip overnight involving several different buses and a bit of walking, I found myself in Bolivia, supposedly the land where you are likely to get scammed and kidnapped at every turn and that's not forgetting the constant civil unrest. Sounds like an adventure. As it turns out, so far all of the horror stories that the Foreign Office enjoy to publicise on their website appear overblown and infrequent, though I will still be keeping my hands firmly in my pockets and looking over my shoulder!