On The Way…….
Another early rising and we were off to Copacabana and Lake Titicaca. Copacabana nestles between two hills on the southern shore of Lake Titicaca. It is a launching pad for visiting the Island of the Sun and the Island of the Moon. It is known for its famous Basilica , home of the Virgin of Copacabana, lake trout which is pink like salmon, and its quaint atmosphere. Boats leave for the sacred Inca islands every few hours.
It takes about 31/2 hours to get there but Marisol said it would probably take 4 hours because of the road work and traffic. El Alto is the second largest city in Bolivia and is located next to La Paz with an elevation of 4,150 m. It is best known for its teeming streets and traffic and has the largest group of Aymara inhabitants. My guide, Marisol, is Aymaran and lives with her parents who still live by the traditional indigenous ways. Going through El Alto is rather shocking with so many buildings and houses in all stages of incompletion. I asked the guide why so many houses were unfinished and she said that when a family builds and then has children – they expect the children to finish the building and take up residence. The people just run out of money might be another reason. Avoidance of a tax collected by the government on completed houses may also be a reason.
Finally after several very bumpy detours, we were on our way out of El Alto. I was glad to leave the dirt, dust and sprawling metropolis behind. Every once in a while I would see a teeny church on top of a hill. I asked my guide, Marisol, its significance. Evidently, there is some competition between the Catholic church and Pachamama (the old religion). Lots of old mother earth rituals are performed by the Aymaras on the tops of hills so the Catholic church puts a tiny church to remind people to believe in the Catholic faith.
The ride seemed to take forever. Marisol said we would take a break and stop to see the famous Bolivian who traveled with Thor Heyerdahl. He helped build and maintain the reed boat used in the expedition to Kon-Tiki . There was a beautiful reed boat along with a beautiful view. I also had the opportunity to talk to Paulino Esteban and of course bought a replica boat. I also took his photo and he signed a post card for me, It was a great stop and a few good photos as well.
We were back on the road with just a half hour to go. We stopped at several viewing points to take a look at Lake Titicaca – in Andean belief – it is the birthplace of the sun. It is the largest lake in South America and the highest navigable body of water in the world. The long time home of highland cultures and steeped in the old ways; the lake is located on the border of Peru and Bolivia.