A Journey Through Bolivia, Part 3: The Still of Lake Titicaca

Maria Clark October 26, 2013
Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca, Bolivia (Photo Taken by Maria Clark)

The bus took off early that morning, narrowly avoiding the cut off time for any sort of vehicular transportation. I had learned the night before that across all major cities in Bolivia, vehicles would not be allowed on the streets that day. The bus scooped up tourists from different hostels around La Paz before heading out on a bumpy highway past deserted villages towards Copacabana.

The town is located at the edge of Lake Titicaca and is the main drop off point for people looking to head westward to Peru or out to the beautiful islands in the lake, Isla del Sol and Isla de la Luna.

The bus bumped up and down, stopping entirely at one point as the bus driver got off to figure out how he was going to maneuver around a gigantic pile up of rocks and gravel in the middle of the road. These pile ups are pretty common. What I understand is that people opposed to the current President wreck the roads, carving out holes or piling up small gravel mountains, to make his government look bad.

It also helps stall traffic, makes transportation nearly impossible and travel incredibly uncomfortable.

However, the route to Copacabana from La Paz is remarkable.  Among the dispersed little mountain villages you can see entire spans of snow peaked mountains and valleys that spread out into a vast cold horizon.

To the left you can begin catching glimpses of the Lake Titicaca (the highest elevation body of water in the world) as it spreads out larger and larger among the mountain tops.

The bus finally stopped at a small drop off point by the lake. At this point we were supposed to get off the bus and take a small boat across this stretch of the lake. The bus was piled onto a rickety raft made up of several logs strapped flimsily together. According to the driver, years ago a bus went onto one of these rafts, tourists and all, and sunk beneath the water.

This is an unconfirmed rumor, but nonentheless one that made me happy to head onto the still rickety but safer little boat.

We putted across to the other side of the lake and watched as our bus floated across the crisp blue surface. Another 30 minutes and we were in Copacabana.

My hotel was located about a mile walk along the coast of the lake from the small town. It didn’t feel like much at first, but the weight of my backpack began making it seem more like 10 miles.

The hotel, a small place called the Ecolodge, was just a series of mud huts powered with solar panels facing onto the lake.  My hut had a small table and chair set outside of it.

I nestled into a long peaceful two days of warm showers and my warm bed.

Travelling by myself, I avoided staying in town too late in the afternoon. The benefit of staying in a place so far out of town is that you get to experience delicious quiet. The night is bright with dozens of stars scattered along the sky as if air pollution doesn’t exist and all they want to do is show you the vastness of the universe. Lake Titicaca is dark and ominous but the sound of its water hitting the shores leaves you in a tranquil lull.

I had the options of hitting up the Mayan ruins at the Isla del Sol. Readers, try to do that if you can, its supposed to be beautiful.

At this point really, all I wanted was stillness.