Surfing Sleepy Islands

Isla del Sol Travel Blog

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I'm taking a bit of a break to explore the islands and areas around Lake Titicaca.   The lake itself is serene and gentle, and just to be on a boat on the lake is relaxing let alone walking on the magical islands it contains.


Los Uros

Uros is unreal.  First off, Uros is not actually a real island - it's just a bunch of villages built on top of floating reeds, LOTS of reeds.   Essentially, Uros is a community of floating islands, complete with reed everything - reed huts, reed stores, reed boats to get around, reed guest houses, reed toys for the kids.  It's pretty funny to walk around, because the ground never feels solid and always makes a crunching sound.  It's artificially constructed, but has to be repaired often, and it's amusing to see the island end abruptly into deep water. 

The only thing I'm really wondering is where the washrooms are... I mean, if the locals just did their business in the lake, the villages would smell really bad, but they don't!

Uros pretty much has been turned into a tourist destination - lots of souvenir stands on each island - but it's still really amazing to see in person.


Taquile

Two hours away from Uros lies the island of Taquile.  It could be closer, but I took a local collectivo transport boat, and its horrendously slow.  On the other hand, it's entertaining to travel on a boat loaded with beer and locals.  It contains many Inca structures, but I actually don't wander around to see them.  Because of its elevation, it has a wondeful panoramic view of the lake.  What's most interesting about the island is its textile industry.  All the locals, including men, seem to be knitting or weaving something all the time.

It's a very touristy island, and I'm not overly impressed until I hear a band playing in the distance.  I follow the sound, and behold!  I come upon an school anniversary celebration.  I stick out a bit, being the only tourist there, but the everyone seems to be used to it (the island is touristy, after all).  Still, I have a good time watching the kids dressed in traditional outfits dance, sing, and recite poems.

Copacabana

Now that I'm on the Bolivian side (after being searched for drugs on the Peruvian side), the first town I enter is Copacabana.  Unlike Puno, Copacabana is a small town, and I love it.  It has beaches on the shore, complete with many tasty snack stands lining it.  The whole town just descends towards the shores, but the town itself is nice - some colonial buildings, a vibrant market for locals, and a beautiful, large, gleeming white Moorish cathedral that looks like it belongs in Greece. 

What I like most though, is a local cafeteria I stumbled upon.  It's a large, open space with around 15 designated cooking areas, each surrounded by counters and chairs.  It's just filled with locals digging into delicious broths, fried trout, salmon, and other local specialties.  The food's hot, so it seems pretty safe, but time constraints kept me from sitting down and having a full-on meal with the locals. 

Did I mention the trout I've been having on Lake Titicaca is amazing?  It's not native to the lake, but they've thrived well here, and it's cooked in some many delicious ways - grilled, steamed, with tomato sauce, dijon, stuffed, etc. etc. etc.


Isla Del Sol

Ah.  The fabled Island of the Sun, birthplace of the Incas.  On a sudden whim, I decide not to continue to La Paz and stay on the island.  And it was worth it.  The island is dotted with numerous Inca ruins, but what I like most is just the relaxed pace and atmosphere of island life.  It's a very good way to ease into Bolivia knowing how hectic La Paz, the capital, is going to be. 

The views here are the most notable.  Along with some travellers I met on the boat ride over, we stay at a nice hostel overlooking the lake, la Isla del Luna (moon), and some snow-capped mountains in the distance. 

At night, a full moon illuminates the island for me to walk around and find a small, cozy, candle-lit restaurant to tuck into and enjoy the company of other travellers.  The locals are equally friendly, and I enjoy a long conversation (in Spanish!) with the owner of the Internet cafe (it's really slow).

It's not so cold tonight, and I decide to take advantage of the full moon for some night photography.  I wander out into the island, and my senses just sharpen.  I can feel the wind, listen to the trees rustle, see the stars, and hear the waves gently lap on the shore.  It's all pretty peaceful until I awaken a guard dog who nearly gives me a heart attack. 

Anyways, I wander by myself out to a place of solitude in the middle of the island, set up my camera, and wonder, "This island is so ancient.  It has so much history.  What if I encounter the ghost of an Inca chief?" Haha.   OK.  The scene kind of reminds me of a scene I had in my mind of another ghost story - my dad had a ghost encounter while camping alone in a massive, terraced Hong Kong graveyard for a Boy Scout ritual.

I think I'm getting off topic. :)

I'm not sure what it is about this island, it's not the most beautiful I've been to, but it definitely has a relaxing, dreamy appeal to it. 


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Isla del Sol
photo by: Paulovic