Copacabana, Day 2
This is a very photo-heavy post. Also, we're on a boat.
We woke up early in order to get down to the beach and catch a boat that was heading out into the lake. Our captain (is that the right word for someone who steers a little boat?) must've been in a hurry. We left the other boats in our wake.
It was a two-ish hour ride to the Isla del Sol with lots of opportunities along the way to photograph the surroundings. Like this tiny little island off in the distance.
It was cold.
The Isla del Sol looked remarkably like Copacabana from the boat. Definitely welcoming, though. It was moments like this, sitting on that boat and slowly floating up to the dock, that it would hit me again just where I was and what I was seeing. It was almost surreal. I love the hills and changing leaves of the midwest and I have grown to enjoy the almost antiseptic cleanliness of the desert out west, but the beauty here is something else entirely.
When we finally arrived, we all hit the bathroom (almost literally "spending a penny" -- they charge for use), paid a 1000% markup for some sunblock, found our tour guide, and began the trek. It wasn't long before we met a little friend.
Again, have I mentioned that even holding my breath while washing my face in the shower would wind me? Nobody mentioned that this little trip would be a hike. A hike that, back in Tucson, I'd still have a hard time with. (My cardio is really not great.) Just look at this. See the beach on the right and the water just behind the town? That's where we landed.
And that was just the beginning of the hike. It was essentially a 60-minute hike up the island to the ruins, mostly on rocky paths like the one in the picture below.
The tour guides and locals, phew, they had no problem at all. This guy even sang and played his guitar the whole way up. (Not very well, so it was a relief that he wasn't part of our group.)
Though, to be fair, it could've been a lot worse. That is to say, we could've continued the hike around the island, like these crazy travelers.
Luckily for my lungs and legs, we needed to get back to the boat. The walk back was considerably easier being mostly downhill. It was also fairly dangerous, as the rocks became very slippery. Each of us almost fell at least once. Though, the vistas up there were totally worth it.
Eventually, we made it to Chinkana, the Incan ruins at the island summit. The tour guide gave us a great history lesson (which you can get the gist of on Wikipedia; also, it was in Spanish, so I'm guessing it was a great history lesson).
We met more little friends: there were sheep.
We got to hang out at a site where, apparently, many human sacrifices were made. It's supposed to be a location of power and great spiritual energy, so the tour guide invited everyone to touch the wall (which he said the Incas called Titi Kharka, or Rock of the Puma, which eventually became Titicaca). It's so-named because of an apparent visage of a crouching puma in the rock face.
Behind where I was standing to photograph roca del puma, there's a ceremonial table. I wanted to get a photo of that, but there was a blessing happening. Apparently a tourist asked a local to bless her, which took a while, but at least I captured him mid-blessing.
We moved down lower into Chinkana, which is Quechua for labyrinth, and heard even more history. There is a spring that bubbles up right in the middle, which our guide said was a) powerful with healing properties, and b) mighty tasty. He filled up a water bottle and let people bless/anoint themselves with it. I did partake in this little exercise because, well, that sun was hot and the water was cooold. Here he is filling the bottle.
After that, the tour was pretty much over. We were left to find our own way back (which wasn't hard, I just thought it was funny that the tour ended at the farthest point from where we began), so we hung around for a few minutes, took some pictures in el laberinto, and began the trek back to the boat.
Adri and Ale took this opportunity to find a seat and look très royale.
We walked/hiked/crawled/stumbled our way back to the beach and the boats and departed Isla del Sol. The next destination was what was consistently referred to as "the floating islands," which is where we were apparently to have lunch. I had no idea what to expect, but I was certainly not disappointed.
Where we went was literally that: floating, man-made islands of straw, tires, and who-knows what else. They were slightly springy to walk on and bobbed with the water. Not so much that you'd get seasick, but it was certainly noticeable.
Built into these little islands were ... well, I'm not sure what you call them. Fish holds? Large netted areas connected to the islands that contained all the fish that were sold as lunch. The fish swam around and around in a circle. It was mesmerizing. Be sure to switch to 1080p on the video below.
They let the kids get in on the fun, picking out the fish to be cooked:
At least, the boys above were having fun. The girl below, I think, was just at work. It didn't occur to me just how much child labor exists there until after I looked back through these photos.
It'd been years since I've had fish so fresh that it was breathing just minutes before it got to the table. Adri and I shared one, which was, I have to say, some of the best trout I've ever had. Simple, fresh, just with a light breading and some lime juice. Just... wow.
We ate, got back on the boat, and rode the rest of the way back to Copacabana--inside, this time, to get out of the sun. I don't have any pictures of my sunburn, but it was pretty heinous.
The day ended with a beautiful sunset and a relaxing drink at the closest thing Copacabana has to an ex-pat bar, NEMOS. The next day we were leaving, but before that I got a chance to take some pictures in the town, proper. But those will have to wait.