I’m sitting in a bar – no surprise there, Marcy – in Puno, Peru, overlooking Lake Titicaca. Karen and I loved our time in Bolivia, to the point where we are seriously considering doing volunteer work in Bolivia instead of Africa. We have plenty of time to think this one through, but the topic is on the agenda.
Our last few days in Bolivia were varied and interesting. On Friday, December 9, I attended a Bolivian Executive Forums meeting; Executive Forums is the “CEO whiners” group that I belonged to in Colorado for 4 years. Interesting to hear (as much as my Spanish would let me…) some of the issues that the Bolivian CEOs have, and I also had the opportunity to give a brief presentation on my lessons learned from the US. Big thanks to Juan Carlos and Michelle for inviting me, and Karen and I look forward to continuing our discussions with them re possible work in Bolivia.
On Saturday, we headed to Copacabana, a rather touristy small Bolivian town on the shores of Lake Titicaca, in order to take a tour out to Isla Del Sol. Getting to Copacabana involved taking a “ferry”, I am using this word very loosely, at Taquina. Other words which were used very, very loosely: loading ramp, sea-worthy, motor, etc…
But as with most things, anticipating the ferry crossing was more scary than the actual crossing.
The Incas believed that the first Sun God, ie the first Inca, and his sister, whom he married, were born on Isla Del Sol. As such a very important part of Inca history, and a location that attracts numerous tourists.
Perhaps we were not in the mood, but the main ruins that are visible on Isla Del Sol, the Chicana labyrinth type building, did not make that much of an impression on us. And although our guide tried, his very, very limited English, echoed by our very limited Spanish, meant that we didn’t get as much from the ruins as we had hoped.
Our boat from Copacabana had dropped us off close to the Chicana ruins, which are on the north end of the island, and would pick us up at the south end of the island, in a village called Yumani. From Chicana to Yumani, it was a beautiful 2.5 to 3 hour hike. But a hike that takes place at 3,800 m, 12,500 ft. And you can certainly feel the altitude.
This hike is also the first time that we have ever run into hiking tolls; along the route there are 3 toll stations, each of which cost us 5 Bs (70 cents). Isla Del Sol has roughly 800 inhabitants, and give the limited amount of available work, and the abundance of tourists, I can certainly understand the tolls.
The best part of the hike came when we reached Yumani, or rather reached the steep descent from the ridge down to the harbor in Yumani. I’m not sure what the elevation of the descent was, but I’m guessing 1,200 ft. We descended along main street, and it was a hoot. How often do you get passed by donkeys and llamas on your main street? Or, more shamefully, how often do you get passed by a gentleman who looked to be in his late 60’s, dressed in slacks and wearing (leather-soled?) loafers, who bounded, nay skipped, down main street, while I plodded along in my high-tech, pricey, hiking boots.
Main street is nicely paved up top, where it’s not so steep, and then turns into serpentine curves right before the harbor, where it is quite steep.
When we reached the harbor, it was a colorful blend of people, donkeys, and llamas, each waiting for their load to carry up main street. A great ending to our time in Bolivia, can’t wait to return.