Sunday, 28 October 2012

Greetings from the highest capital in the world

Hello and from my exalted position, I guess I must be looking down on you all. This is the highest capital but it is lower that Lake Titicaca!! 

We loved Copacabana and spent almost a week there, the lake was so peaceful and the town very nice. We went on the Lake on a whole day trip with a Canadian couple Al and Maureen. We met them in Puno and then again in Copa. The trip was to the islands of Luna and Sol, sun and moon. Our boat was old and slow and the seats were nailed to the floor, and we arrived first on Luna. A tiny place with only 23 inhabitants , no electricity or bottled gas , only either candles or fires for cooking. They breed trout ( a Titicaca specialty  and grow beans, maize and potatoes. We spent and hour just enjoying the peace and quiet and chatting to the locals.

When we left Luna for the 45 minute crossing to Sol I realised why the chairs were nailed down.........even though it is a freshwater lake the wind was strong and it was a pretty choppy crossing. At Isla del Sol you could climb a big hill to look at some ruins but we walked up smaller one and sat with views of the lake drinking beer and eating trout........wonderful views of snow-capped mountains in the distance.

One day we walked along the lake shore and at the very hippy Kasa Kultura met an Argentinian woman, Christina, who made us herbal tea and we chewed the cud , looking out on the Lake. We also met an Argentinian family,who had been travelling for 2 years , in a strange looking "campervan". Copa certainly had a hippy feel to it, and from time to time an aroma too!!

We had found a local community project supporting the two islands and another village about 5 miles away. We booked another trip to go to Sahuena to see the giant frogs. We went with a local Aymara girl, Wilma, in a taxi to the village and then met a local guide at the village. She rowed us from the shore to the frog platform, on the way we talked about how they use the reeds that grow in the shallows. It is used for weaving, cattle feed and the locals chew the white must have natural bleach as their teeth are very white. We tried it but it did not have much flavour.  We only saw a baby frog, the adults get to 2 foot long, and he was easily as big as my hand!!

One lovely thing about Copa was the quality of the food, on all five evenings we ate at La Orilla a great place, with lovely evening jazz and blues music, and a short but wonderful selection of fresh food. Not Bolivian, but a great selection of vegetarian favourites like falafels, fajitas, baked aubergine etc. In a town with masses of restaurants, mostly empty, this one was full every night. The owner was a Bolivian who had been brought up in Washington DC, he was laid back but he ran a tight ship and his cooks were wonderful.

On Saturday morning we set off for La Paz on the local bus, complete with four very large buckets of trout that a local woman was taking to market. It was a bumpy windy trip and at one point we had to get off and cross a strait on the Lake on a smelly ferry while the bus went across on a barge. 

We arrived in busy La Paz and found the first 2 taxis didn't want to take us into the centre, but as always a lovely Bolivian man sorted it out for us. We have been here two nights and our hostel is fine, we have a corner room with a patio, TV ( with BBC news !!) and wi-fi. It is decorated with paintings of Bolivia on the walls. Breakfast was good this morning , a big improvement on the usual bread and jam. 

Yesterday we did our admin bits, booked a flight to Sucre for next week and for our next destination.............
We are off tomorrow to Coroico , about 2,000 m lower than here. It is where the world's most dangerous road is!! We have booked an eco-lodge called Sol y Luna, where we have a cabana and I am hoping to have a few days cooking as we have a kitchen. The lower altitude should be good and we may be able to walk, the place has a swimming pool and we have hammocks in our cabana. Quite looking forward to chilling before we head off to Sucre for our week of Spanish classes.  We then have two options about how to see the famous salt flats and we will sort that nearer the time. 

Lake Titicaca

Local women dressed for dancing at the fiesta.....and yes that is 2 crates of beer in front of them 

More lovely costumes

Giant Lake Titicaca "bay frog"

Bolivian " Cornish" pasty....Saltenas !!
I'm not quite sure if I can really discern the difference between Peru and Bolivia other than Bolivia is much less touristy, there is no real sales pressure. Its been a while since we were in a busy capital city and we will limit our time here. We come back for one night but really just to transit and get a flight to Sucre.........which sounds and looks like  a lovely colonial city.

So till next time 
Hasta luego

Norma xx

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