Birthplace of the Sun

Trip Start May 01, 2010
Trip End Apr 30, 2011

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Wednesday, September 1, 2010

We crossed the border into Bolivia a few days ago and arrived at the small town of Copacabana on the shores of the mighty Lake Titicaca. At 3800 metres, Lake Titicaca is the highest lake in the world. It also covers a massive 8400 square kilometres. The deep blue lake contrasts beautifully with the stark Altiplano plains that surround it.

At Copacabana, we checked into the lovely La Cupula Hotel, where we were given a room with a private garden overlooking the lake. We enjoyed a delicious lunch (the hotel restaurant is fantastic) and then had a lazy afternoon to recover from our overnight bus journey. The next morning we caught one of the very slow boats over to Isla del Sol, believed by the Aymara and Quechua peoples to be the birthplace of the sun and the god-king, Viracocha. Isla del Sol has a very Aegean look and we kept having to remind ourselves that we were high up in the Bolivian altiplano and not on a Greek island! We walked from the small settlement of Cha'llapampa in the north to Yumani in the south. The walk took about 3-4 hours and was quite hard-going because of the altitude and strong sun. For the last part of the walk we joined a lovely English couple, Leanne, an intensive care nurse at Great Ormond Street Hospital and Craig, a civil engineer in the army, and an Aussie guy called Terry. Leanne and I soon discovered that we share the same birthday and then bizarrely I spotted that she had exactly the same watch as me that Tom bought me for my 30th birthday. Craig also bought her the watch for her 30th birthday! Freaky!

When we reached the end of the walk we boarded our boat for the return journey and found a woman who looked very very ill. She was completely unresponsive and her eyes were glazed over. I thought that she may have had a stroke and so ran to get Leanne who was still on the shore. On seeing the woman she also thought this was the case and with the help of Craig, Terry and his Brazilian friend, managed to persuade another boat that she had to go to hospital immediately (after much screaming and shouting when the skipper was worried about how much he was going to get paid). The last we saw was their boat chugging painfully slow past us and Leanne performing CPR on the woman. We spent the 2 hour return journey in a complete daze, fearing the worst but hopeful that she might be okay. Later that evening at dinner we learnt that the lady had died just a few minutes after the boat left. She was 67 and her husband of 48 years was completely distraught.  The six of us shared a table at dinner and talked about the day's events which helped a lot. Tom and I only saw the lady for about 10 minutes before she was carried
onto the other boat and have been in a state of shock ever since so I
can only begin to imagine what the others went through accompanying the
dead lady and her husband on the long journey back to shore.

A sad and surreal day. The sun is born and a lady dies.

The following day, we caught the 1.30pm bus to La Paz. Following the shores of Lake Titicaca, we had to get off the bus at one point to cross a small stretch of water while the bus was loaded onto a raft. After some hours we reached the outskirts of La Paz, the usual depressing half-finished buildings set against the bleak backdrop of the bare altiplano. After 30 minutes or so, we passed over a ridge and everyone on the bus gasped as we saw the immensity of La Paz stretched out below us. We arrived at the bus station in the centre of this hectic city and grabbed a cab to Hotel Sagarnaga, our home for two nights.

Not sure when the next blog entry will be as we are heading off on the Choro trail tomorrow, walking down from the mountains into the steamy jungle. Then we head off on a boat trip to Rurrenabaque in the Amazon basin before taking a tour into the pampas! Whether there will be internet in any of these places is uncertain!

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Faith Mortimer on

Hi so sad about the lady. Hope you've recovered over it now.

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