From the highest capital to the world’s highest lake

Bus trip from Uyuni to La Paz was a real adventurous experience in itself. As there was no tourist buses going there that day, we had to take a local bus. Let me just clarify this, usually tourist buses around South America are very comfortable, warm and there is at least one proper meal being served during the ride. The bus to La Paz was anything but that. Speeding over a narrow gravel bumpy road, leaning left and right as if it will tip at any moment. All of the 11 hours I was praying for my dear life and enjoying a nice cold draft coming from the windows that were not in condition to close properly anymore. As I wanted to turn around in my seat, I realized that my blanket got frozen on the window. It was, for sure, quite an entreating ride. But even though I was completely frozen and sleep deprived, I was fascinated by the amazing sight we saw when entering the worlds highest capital in the world. Thousands of little houses scattered around the mountain sides and some high-rise just waking up in the morning sun. It was 7 am, city traffic was bustling, people were running around and I was ready to fall to bed.

The falling dead into bed somehow didn’t got executed until late night. La Paz was too big of a tease to just leave unexplored. Colorful clothes, narrow alleys, beautiful plazas and lots and lots of hills. I proclaimed it to be a San Francisco of South America.

We saw some interesting museums. Coca and music museums founded by Ernesto Cavour were definitely one of those worth visiting. Chewing coca leaves on these high parts of Bolivia is nothing unusual and uncommon and hotel where we were staying even served a portion of the leaves at breakfast. They were supposed to help with altitude sickness, improve digestion and increase energy levels. You simply put them in your mouth and suck on the juice. They taste very bitter and yes, by now I have successfully become a real junkie. But only under an excuse of healing my altitude sickness. How else would I ever survive these high places?!

Before finally hitting the bed for real there was one more thing to do–see the sunset from the mirador.

Although this night’s sleep was warmer than the previous one on the bus, it wasn’t very long as we were leaving to Copacabana very early in the morning. Not to be confused with Copacabana Beach in Rio, this is a little town on the lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. It is wast and endless and that’s exactly the reason why it is hard to think of it as a lake. From Copacabana we hopped on a boat which took us to the Sun Island. Since there are no motor vehicles or paved roads on the island, we hiked up the rocky path to the hotel on the top, a little bit more than 4.000 m high. The view was breathtaking and the fish I ate there was one of the best fish I had in South America so far. Fresh and full of flavor.

I will repeat myself for the hundredth time and risk sounding like a spoiled little girl, but the night was freezing. Do not get fooled by the sunny  pictures, as soon as the sun goes done on 4.000 meters it gets insanely cold. And the rooms at these remote places usually come without heating. So there I was, freezing another night away with all my clothes on, waiting for the sun to come and warm me up.

After breakfast the next day we hiked to another part of the Isla del Sol to see Inca ruins. Magnificent how these people thought of so many details while building their homes. For example, how to angle rocks to be able to tell the hours of the day based on the shadow. Simply fascinating. In the Inca religion it was also believed that the Sun God was born here, hence the name of the island.

I made friends with donkeys and wondered why I haven’t thought of that a day before, as they seemed willing and friendly enough to carry me and my luggage up the steep rocky hills. Just before hoping on a boat I experienced a spectacular fall which included twisting my ankle and seeing bright fireworks. Luckily nothing is broken, just  makes it a bit harder to walk. And here I am, thinking about the donkeys again.

The final night in La Paz was a blast. Great company, good food and strong drinks. Much of the rest I don’t remember. Except for having to wake up at 5 am to catch a flight to another wonderful destination.

About Barbi & Ira