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    South by South America Tour – Bolivia Part 23

    Wednesday, October 9, 2019
    Copacabana, Bolivia

    Passengers board a boat in Copacabana bound for Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.
    Passengers board a boat in Copacabana bound for Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.

    Welcome to Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.
    Welcome to Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.

    Starting up the steep stone steps to the village of Yumani on Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.
    Starting up the steep stone steps to the village of Yumani on Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.

    Looking down at a topiary statue of a llama (with the snow-capped peaks of the Andres visible in the background) in the village of Yumani on Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.
    Looking down at a topiary statue of a llama (with the snow-capped peaks of the Andres visible in the background) in the village of Yumani on Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.

    “Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) is an island in the southern part of Lake Titicaca, Bolivia. Geographically, the terrain is harsh; it is a rocky, hilly island with many eucalyptus trees. There are no motor vehicles or paved roads on the island, which gives it a very relaxed atmosphere. The main economic activity of the approximately 800 families on the island is farming, with fishing and tourism augmenting the subsistence economy. In fact, many hills on the island contain agricultural terraces, which adapt steep and rocky terrain to agriculture. Of the several villages, Yumani and Challapampa are the largest. There are over 80 ruins on the island, most of which date to the Inca period circa the 15th century AD. Archaeologists have discovered evidence that people lived on the island as far back as the third millennium BC. Among the ruins on the island are Titi Qala (the “mountain cat stone” or “lead stone”, which is also spelled Titikala), a labyrinth-like building called Chinkana, Q’asa Pata, and Pillkukayna. In the religion of the Incas, it was believed that the sun god was born here.”—Wikipedia

    A small Catholic church in the village of Yumani on Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.
    A small Catholic church in the village of Yumani on Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.

    The village of Yumani on Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.
    The village of Yumani on Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.

    A screaming donkey in the village of Yumani on Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.
    A screaming donkey in the village of Yumani on Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.

    A dilapidated building serves as a scenic viewpoint on a hill above the village of Yumani on Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.
    A dilapidated building serves as a scenic viewpoint on a hill above the village of Yumani on Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.

    At 8:30 am, I boarded a boat in Copacabana with a few dozen other folks for a 90-minute cruise over to Isla de Sol, which is actually visible from town. It takes so long to get there because the boat chugs along at maybe five miles per hour. We were going so slow, it felt like we were sailing through a sea of molasses. Finally, around 10:00 am, we arrived at Isla de Sol. A couple of minutes after I got off the boat, it suddenly took off. I then found out it was going over to another much smaller island called Isla de Luna, most notable as the home of a few Inca ruins to explore. I still can’t figure out why the boat didn’t stop at Isla de Luna first, then Isla de Sol. I’ll have to admit I was miffed at first, but quickly got over it as I climbed up some super steep stone steps to the picturesque village of Yumani.

    Looking north from a scenic viewpoint on a hill above the village of Yumani on Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.
    Looking north from a scenic viewpoint on a hill above the village of Yumani on Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.

    A light tower on a hill above the village of Yumani on Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.
    A light tower on a hill above the village of Yumani on Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.

    Looking down at the village of Yumani on Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.
    Looking down at the village of Yumani on Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.

    A sign for an artisan's store in the village of Yumani on Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.
    A sign for an artisan’s store in the village of Yumani on Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.

    A splendid view from Yumani on Isla de Sol of the serene waters of Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.
    A splendid view from Yumani on Isla de Sol of the serene waters of Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.

    Since I had a full five hours to explore, I proceeded at a leisurely place, soaking in all of the idyllic views of the rustic village and the simple serenity of Lake Titicaca. As the village gave way to open land, the trail continued up a steep hill or miniature mountain, depending upon your opinion. The hike up through the thin air and under the punishing sunlight was exhausting. Near the top, I encountered a small building with a ladder leading up to the roof. Since, the windows were covered with dust and the doors were all locked up, I climbed up onto the roof for a swell view of the surrounding hills, agricultural fields and the placid waters of the lake. For the last upward leg of my journey, I hiked to the highest peak on the south end of Isla de Sol.

    A pig pen in the village of Yumani on Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.
    A pig pen in the village of Yumani on Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.

    A scenic path in the village of Yumani on Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.
    A scenic path in the village of Yumani on Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.

    Descending back to the water in the village of Yumani on Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.
    Descending back to the water in the village of Yumani on Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.

    The Boat of Twin Dragons departs from the village of Yumani on Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.
    The Boat of Twin Dragons departs from the village of Yumani on Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.

    When I arrived, I discovered that what I thought was a Catholic cross when viewed from the village down below was actually not a cross at all, but a light tower. Next to it was the ruins of a small, mysterious building with one big room and two smaller ones chock-full of profane graffiti. I could find no evidence that it was ever a restaurant or a hostel. Maybe someone used to sell drinks and snacks in it. There were stairs leading up to a rooftop platform, so the building must have been intended as a scenic overlook. The views from on top were spectacular, with Isla de Luna and the snowcapped peaks of the Andes mountain range way off in the distance. Even parts of the north side of Isla de Sol were visible among the curvy, craggy outline of the east side of the island.

    Disembarking from the boat and walking back into the town of Copacabana, Bolivia.
    Disembarking from the boat and walking back into the town of Copacabana, Bolivia.

    A wall sculpture in Copacabana, Bolivia.
    A wall sculpture in Copacabana, Bolivia.

    The Ecolodge Las Olas in Copacabana, Bolivia.
    The Ecolodge Las Olas in Copacabana, Bolivia.

    The Ecolodge Las Olas in Copacabana, Bolivia.
    The Ecolodge Las Olas in Copacabana, Bolivia.

    Stone and wood in Copacabana, Bolivia.
    Stone and wood in Copacabana, Bolivia.

    After I had my fill of the awesome views, I walked back down to restaurant row on the west side of the island, where I ate lunch in a little place with more gorgeous views of the rolling hills of the island set amidst the calm waters of Lake Titicaca. On my way back down the trail, I snapped a couple of photos of some donkeys. Then a lady appeared carrying a big bowl of water for them and chided me, like taking a photo of donkeys would hurt anything. How silly. Sometimes, people can be so petty. Further down the hill, I also chanced upon a pig pen containing three pigs that snorted at me a couple of times as I shot photos, which was hilarious. Luckily, no one was around at that spot. After that, I made my way back down to the docks, where I climbed back on the boat for the long, slow trip back to Copacabana. If you ever visit this area, I highly recommend a visit to the lovely Isla de Sol.

    Words and photos ©2019 Arcane Candy.

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