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    South by South America Tour – Bolivia Part 21

    Monday, October 7, 2019
    La Paz to Copacabana, Bolivia

    A Diana Tours bus en route from La Paz to Copacabana, Bolivia.
    A Diana Tours bus en route from La Paz to Copacabana, Bolivia.

    The ferry crossing from San Pablo de Tiquina to San Pedro de Tiquina, Bolivia.
    The ferry crossing from San Pablo de Tiquina to San Pedro de Tiquina, Bolivia.

    Welcome to San Pedro de Tiquina, Bolivia.
    Welcome to San Pedro de Tiquina, Bolivia.

    Around 7:30 am, a driver from a Diana Tours bus knocked on the front door of the Hospedaje Milenio. Sitting just inside, I was ready for him. Carrying my big backpack in one hand with a bag of snacks and water in the other, plus my heavy, overstuffed messenger bag draped over my shoulder, we trundled down the steep block to the bus, which was waiting on a wider street. Then we spent the better part of an hour circling around the narrow, congested streets of central La Paz to pick up other passengers. I was amazed that the driver could maneuver such a big bus around such tight corners clogged with other vehicles, not to mention through such narrow streets that were chock-full of market stalls and myriad people scurrying this way and that to school and work.

    Real bricks that look like painted bricks in Copacabana, Bolivia.
    Real bricks that look like painted bricks in Copacabana, Bolivia.

    A side entrance to the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Copacabana in Copacabana, Bolivia.
    A side entrance to the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Copacabana in Copacabana, Bolivia.

    The main entrance to the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Copacabana in Copacabana, Bolivia.
    The main entrance to the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Copacabana in Copacabana, Bolivia.

    Making our way out of the La Paz area, we proceeded out into the countryside. Lots of litter was visible on both sides of the road, which was depressing, as always. After an hour or so, the bus stopped at a gas station, where we got off to use the bathroom and buy snacks. Eventually, we ended up at a small village called San Pablo de Tiquina. There, we exited the bus, boarded a small boat and crossed a narrow strait to another small village called San Pedro de Tiquina. Can you say deja vous? The bus, which had made the crossing on a small barge, met us there and we climbed back on. Next, we cruised on a winding road through some beautiful countryside with numerous splendid views of the magnificent Lake Titicaca. Around 11:00 am, we pulled into the small town of Copacabana, which is nestled between two huge hills on the shores of the lake.

    A carving on the front doors of the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Copacabana in Copacabana, Bolivia.
    A carving on the front doors of the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Copacabana in Copacabana, Bolivia.

    A small statue of the Virgin Mary at the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Copacabana in Copacabana, Bolivia.
    A small statue of the Virgin Mary at the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Copacabana in Copacabana, Bolivia.

    Sunset in Copacabana, Bolivia.
    Sunset in Copacabana, Bolivia.

    Due to the usual absence of street signs on most corners, I had a hard time finding the Hotel Utama. After walking back and forth and around in circles for a while, I luckily finally found my way there. I was stoked to get a private room with a bathroom for only $10 per night. As a bonus, the nice manager let me have a room with a queen size bed since I had booked three nights. What a sweet deal! Since I had only slept six hours the night before, I took a nap, then walked around the center of town. The only big site I visited today was the main church in town, the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Copacabana. Unfortunately, no photography is allowed inside, so I could only snap a few shots of the exterior and inside a couple of small shrines situated around the perimeter walls. Inside the church, some guys were painting ceiling beams easily 50 or 60 feet up on rickety ladders that were way too tall. In fact, they had ladders lashed together on top of other ladders. It was so sketchy! I’ll bet OSHA would have a field day in that place.

    Sunset in Copacabana, Bolivia, as seen from Cerro Calvario.
    Sunset in Copacabana, Bolivia, as seen from Cerro Calvario.

    Sunset over Lake Titicaca, Bolivia, as seen from Cerro Calvario.
    Sunset over Lake Titicaca, Bolivia, as seen from Cerro Calvario.

    Just before sunset, I huffed and puffed up a really steep street, followed by some rustic stone steps to the top of Cerro Calvario, a pointy hill boasting a 300 feet elevation gain above the town of Copacabana. Up at the top is a Catholic shrine, numerous snack and souvenir stalls, and plenty of litter strewn all over the face of the cliffs. But, even none of that can detract from the awesome views of Copacabana, the serene waters of Lake Titicaca and Isla de Sol off in the distance. Just as the sun dipped below the horizon, I decided to proceed down a rocky path on the face of the cliff instead of walking back down the stairs. The path was so steep and technical most of the way down, it was really more like bouldering than hiking. I was lucky I reached the bottom just as dusk turned into dark.

    Words and photos ©2019 Arcane Candy.

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