Bolivia: Part 2 The Climb
|Where the clouds meet the earth.|
We arrived in Copacabana, a busy little town on the shores of Lake Titicaca. It is here where Bolivians and Peruvians from across the lake make the trek to have their vehicles blessed by a local priest. They drive for miles and miles to receive a ceremonial blessing of their vehicle both inside and out in order to protect them in their journeys. People decorate their cars with all kinds of bling and are ready with beer in hand to have the priest bless it with his words as well as with his spritzing of alcohol on the car. The line up for a car blessing is impressive and happens almost daily in Copacabana.
|Lake Titcaca port|
Copacabana is a touristy town despite it's cultural traditions that are omnipresent. Backpackers fill hostel lobbies and tourists flood the kitchy shops selling traditional Bolivian wares. Down at the lake, the docks are loaded with boats ready to take travelers across to Puno in Peru or to the Sun and Moon Islands in Bolivia.
We boarded our boats and set our sites on the Island of the Sun ( Isla del Sol) where we would disembark and set our sites on the summit of the island where we would spend the night at Ecolodge La Estancia.
|Along the trail on Isla del Sol, Aymara girls sell their goods.|
|The luggage shuttle, aka, the donkey.|
|Here I am!|
After settling in and sitting down for dinner, the altitude started really affecting me. My head throbbed and felt heavy. My heart seemed to beat fast for the smallest of movements and my appetite had all but dissipated. Dinner was lovely and delicious but I could not eat it. I couldn't touch it. My face was on fire from the sunburn and all I could think about was laying down and riding out the pain.
|Snow capped Andes and Lake Titicaca|
I drank Coca tea, chewed on Coca leaves and made sure to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate for the remainder of my time on Isla Del Sol. Coca tea and the leaves from the Coca plant are natural remedies that help with altitude issues. In addition to helping with altitude, Coca increases energy and mental focus, both of what fall prey to altitude sickness.
|Panoramic view from atop Isla del Sol|
The climb down was incredibly easy in comparison to our hike up the day before. The pains of altitude sickness and exhaustion were distant memories and as I boarded the boat to head to Moon Island, I felt incredibly accomplished. As I looked up at the top of Sun Island, feeling so much better than the night before, I realized that I'm a lot stronger than I thought I was and that I could endure so much more than I thought possible.
|The last leg of our trip down Isla del Sol|
Moon Island was a lot less of an issue in terms of altitude yet equally as awe inspiring with it's Incan ruins. As I sat on the shores of Moon Island, looking across the lake at Sun Island, I marveled at the intensity of the things that we cannot see but can only feel. It took being humbled by altitude to realize that sometimes surrendering to the forces and going with the flow is the best thing we can do and when we think we can control that which can't be seen, we often find ourselves weaker and defeated. I'd learned a lot about life in 24 hours hiking up Isla del Sol. In all of my years, it took me only 24 hours of hiking in high altitude to realize that I am but a small force in this world and that fighting against the grain of life is counterintuitive to life's process.