Hiking, Hanging out and Hilltops
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"Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is the change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living." Miriam Beard
Well we actually got some sleep on an overnight bus in Bolivia. We even actually made a connection with only 5 minutes to spare and we made it to Cococabana. Cococabana is our second kick at Lake Titicaca but this time on the Bolivian side. Cococabana is a small, hillside, basically tourist town but with a really nice laid back vibe. Lots of dreadlocks and hemp bracelets. Our hostel was a bit of a splurge that had been recommended to us. A beautiful french provincial old house sitting high up on the hiltop over looking the town and bay. Even though it was a hike straight up the hill at 4000 meters and our lungs were gasping for oxygen (still!) it was worth the grunt several times a day. We spent the next day and a half swinging in the hammocks overlooking the bay sipping cervesas and eating bags of peanuts from the little old Bolivian lady selling in the market. It was wonderful having the days to just hangout.
On our third day we went out to Isla de Sol. One of Bolivia's islands on Lake Titicaca. Isla de Sol is to us, really the gem of Titicaca; much nicer then any we had seen out of Puno, Peru. That morning it was pissing out rain and the water was very rough. We walked down to the dock and were really thinking was it worth it? There was whitecaps and driving rain but our hostel owner had asurred us that by the time we got to Isla de Sol, the sun would be out MAYBE no guarantees. So we sucked it up and climbed on to the leaky rather dilapated boat. Dale scoped for the lifejackets but had to settle for empty plastic gas containers. There were three and about eleven passengers. We sat right beside them. The boat was rocking forward and back as well as side to side and it reaked of toxic gasoline fumes. we sat with our heads sticking out the back so we could get even the littlest fresh air. We had to keep our eyes on the mountains behind us to keep from puking. We made it to isla de Sol only feeling slightly nauseous and were dropped off on the dock with map in hand. As forcasted the rain had stopped and the sun was starting to come out. We headed up the cobbled path past thatched stone houses with donkeys and pigs out front. Along the way on our 8 kilometer hike we were sharing the path with herds of sheep, pigs, cows and donkeys all coaxed along by alittle tradional ladies with a mean swift whack of their stick. we watched as tiny little women carried huge bundles of sticks on their backs to their mud houses. all wishing us "buenos dias." Thisis what wee had pictured the Lake Titicaca islands to be. We hiked the whole island that day ending at the ruins overlooking the lake not a cloud in the sky. When we arrived back in Cococabana we immediately headed to Km Zero which some fellow hiklers had told us had the best burgers in town. Dale was in heaven as he enjoyed every last mouthful of his ham, cheese, fried egg and avacado burger (as well as my fries too). We had been craving north american food.
The next day was our worry. We were trying to make it to Cusco. Originally we were going to take an overnight bus there but we were told that there was a blockade in Julliaca just outside of Puno. No one seemed to know when it was going to be taken down. We were told we would be driven to the outskirts of Julliaca then a guide would walk with us for an hour as we carried our packs through the city and then we would be picked up on the otherside by another bus. Somehow walking through the angry dark streets of Julliaca in the middle of the night didn't appeal to us, so we opted for a day bus. That morning when we got to where we were to be picked up there was some question as to whether the bus could even get close enough to Julliaca. We had a few tense moments as the call was made to see if the bus would run. Luckily for us they said it was a go; apparently the protesters were going to partially open the streets. When we did actually pass through Julliaca we witnessed huge boulders all over the main road which the bus had to dodge around and evidence of many fires on the road. It took a long time to get through the city as some main roads were still under blockade but we were very thankful to have made it through. The 9 hour bus ride we thought we were going to be on deposited us at the main station in Cusco 12 hours later. Ah...The joys of riding the busses.....