Friday, 10 April 2009

Lake Titicaca, Copocabana, Isla Del Sol, Bowler Hats, Proposals!

Hello all...little bit behind on the blog entries but great efforts will be made in coming hours to restore this and the interest of our loyal follower base :)

So continuing on we decided to head out of La Paz towards the Peru/Bolivian border ...Lake Titicaca specifically (highest navigable lake in the world by some accounts but not entirely accurate as Bolivia and Peru both have much higher bodies of water). We decided to head for Copacabana (not of Barry Manilow fame) which is situated in Bolivia on LT (Lake Titicaca). We hopped on a local a small 12 seater mini bus after confirming with some french travellers that we all had been charged the gringo price and no local price seemed to exist...if you were a rather large Peruvian woman with a 40 kg bag of potatoes your tariff was reduced :)

So leaving LP for Copacabana in our mini bus after picking up what seemed like 24 people for the poor little bus laden on the roof along with 2 mattresses, 2 bags massive bags of popcorn or the like, 15 gringo backpacks, chickens, guinea pigs and other accessories we were all ready for a journey. For the most part it was uneventful with beautiful mountain scenery..however I do remeber Tish expressing her insane sense of humour and putting on the hat of the very large peruvian lady next to us while she was sleeping...I was of course the lucky photographer, keep an eye out for that photo!

Some history on that while I am here is that most of the Peruvian ladies are very hard workers, dress very well in skirts and often where many embroided rugs to keep worm, their hair is platted carefully and on top of their head they wear a classic bowler hat! The bowler hat - called a bombin - has also been worn by Quechua and Aymara women in Peru and Bolivia since the 1920s when it was introduced to Bolivia by British railway workers. For many years a factory in Italy manufactured the hats for the Bolivian market, but they are now produced internationally.

interesting history here and pic at top (imagine Tish with that hat on! we werent in a position for explanations if we got caught!

We arrived in Copacabana which is essentially a lake side town with no cash machine, lots of restaurants and of course souvenirs and tour agencies. We booked ourselves into a lazy hotel that needed some work but enough to keep us happy for 1 night only as we would be on the move the next day to the Lake. we headed off for dinner which with many restuarants presented many options for us but our budget was very tight as we didnt want to withdraw more bolivianos as we were heading for Peru which uses Soles! So the budget kids headed for dinner drawn by a restuarant that allowed us to use our student cards (yup that is right we study at Cambridge :)...the cheeseburger and beer were good then it was off to bed for some much needed rest before a long next day. We have learned many things while is a strong TIP: CHECK THAT THE BED IN YOUR HOSTEL/HOTEL IS FIT FOR A HUMAN TO SLEEP IN! Our bed was essentially a hammock with no back support and at 3am I{d had enough, left Tish to it then rolled out my thermarest (blow up matt) and sleeping bag on the concrete floor! It was at that point that I started to notice the raw sewerage smell and gasoline smell coming from the room...not much sleep was had that night on my part! Seems exaggerated but that was what the room was like, no wonder it was so cheap! hahah.

THE PROPOSAL (Romantics be warned this may produce tears!): I am pretty sure you know we are happily engaged now but here is my version of events leading up to the fine day on Isla Del Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia....ok some of you know I had this planned some time back in London but location wasnt confirmed. First in London I had called Graeme and thankfully received the go ahead (thanks Graeme), this was no easy task scouring through old phone bills to find Mr Wilkinsons number and not attracting a barrage of questions! So as we travelled along through Argentina I thought that Bolivia with its amazing mountains would be the place and we were going to climb a mountain so why not the summit! Unfortunately the mountains had broken my darling and no summit proposal had presented so I quickly reassessed options but was coming under increased pressure as I had a travel ring and a small Bolivian treasure chest in my pocket ready to go. The pressure came as we were nearing the border of Peru and the little Bolivian treasure chest was about to become obsolete as it read "Bolivia"!!! So staying calm I thought I would see what beautiful scenery would come and if the time presented then take the plunge, if not then it was going to become a Peruvian proposal which wasnt bad but not what I had in mind with abundant tourist trails. So onwards and upwards we hopped on a terrible boat trip to Lake Titicaca...with limited sleep for the both of us we embarked on a gasoline smelling boat which should have been there in half the time, we were somewhat grumpy ffrom no sleep and the previous nights overnight bus, added to this my Ray Bum sunglasses (poor imitation Ray Bans from La Paz) had decided to pop out a lense to the amusement of all the gringos on the boat! Funny in was going to take something great to turn things around. So speeding things up a little we disembarked and commenced a three hour walk on Isla Del Sol (Island of the Sun)..which had no sun when we arrived :) The walk was mediocre at best and we learned that the locals were going to hit you with a tax at one point on the island of which we had limited money to pay as we were wearing down the Bolivianos! Never mind as we approached the taxing gate we took a detour around the mountain and to our great delight found an amazing view of the other side of the island, peace and tranquility which we hadnt experienced in years. What I found intriguing about this place was that it was SO quiet and allowed us to converse in a way we had never achieved in many years in the hustle and bustle London. Growing confident I felt this the time, I positioned myself down the hill a little went down on one knee and produced the chest with ring inside exclaiming to Tish "Look what I found!" She opened it and couldnt believe that someone would leave such a gift on the side of a mountain overlooking a beautiful lake :) God bless her! Tish eventually clicked that I was asking her to marry me after 4 great years together...she said yes - hurrah! We then went and had lunch at a cafe (with our 30 Bolivianos we had made by not paying the local tax man) that had one table overlooking the lake and its stunning views - perfect. We shared a few stories and hurried back for the boat back to the mainland Copacabana.

If you are looking to go to Lake Titicaca I would recommend a stay on Isla Del Sol for a peaceful retreat. The interesting thing about the Lake is that it is not riddled by tourism and has very limited amount of boats to get from point to point...probably a good thing on the eco-tourism front.

1 comment:

  1. about time Simon! love you guys, am reading this at work and am in tears!! i love happy stories xoxo