In all our route-planning we had wanted to try be somewhere culturally unique over Christmas, especially since we would be traveling in a catholic country. Timing was tricky since we needed to get back to La Paz before New Year to go on a trip into the jungle, so we had three days over Christmas to spend at Lake Titicaca. We had opted to stay on the Island over the more touristy town of Copacabana, for two days, in the hopes that we would see how the islanders would be celebrating, and would spend our last day in the bustling lakeside town. We expected rustic homes, donkeys everywhere, farmed land, hot sun, Inca ruins. We never factored in a white Christmas!
We woke up to find our hostel and the surrounding island covered in white hail! It was magnificent completely confusing in the same breath. We wandered about in the white for a bit before getting too soaked and were needing a caffeine fix, and over breakfast realised that if the rain continued we would be holed up the entire day. We were completely bummed at this prospect purely because this was our exploring day – the day we planned to do the long walk around the Island to the museum and ruins, since we would be catching the ferry back early the next morning to town. You cannot control the weather so we just decided to to use the time to really put our feet up for the first time in three weeks. As luck would have it within an hour the weather cleared enough to warrant us putting on light rain jackets and heading out into the drizzle to see the island, and we got even luckier when the sun eventually made an appearance, so we ended up getting the best of both a cold wintery Christmas and a sunny one…Bizarre!
With the sun out and we got all fired up to do the trek to the other side of the Island; so we stopped off at the hostel ditched our big jackets, and headed off down the path that was typically walked by devout pilgrims…Pilgrimage should have been the alarm bell…but more on that later.
We were so happy to see a structure that looked pretty ancient (we secretly hoped it was the infamous ruin complex that would mean the end of our journey but alas, as we neared we realised that it was not)…we had been walking for about an hour and a half, and the subtle uphills along this path were killer! We spent much of the walk panting, or breathlessly passing out a rock for a few minutes, it was insane. I think I would have just been better prepared mentally if I had known how tough the walk would be on my body due to the extreme height, but I must say that the grueling walk was worth the incredible views afforded along the way. You also get a pretty good vantage of the locals going about their business.
The sun was sinking fast, and we still had at least a two hour trek home, so we decided to head back before dark fell. the thought of being out in the dark and cold did not sound like a way to spend the evening. That and the fact that we were starving were good motivators to abandon the sight-seeing.
Needless to say we scoffed down our Christmas dinner. Willie tucked into his pizza while I made my way through my fish dish all while being serenaded by a troupe of traveling buskers! An eventful Christmas it was.
The kind hostel owner showed us a short-cut down the other side of the Island- a very steep downhill that would have obliterated us had we tried to ascend here with our packs- and we took a scenic ferry around a part of the island we otherwise wouldn’t have seen.
What an incredible place and what a Christmas. We left feeling like we had experienced another world, and realised how little we had missed the rush of the cities, the flashing coloured lights, the internet cafes and crazy drivers! We would have loved to explore more of the ruins, and visit the museum, but in a strange way just taking in the space, the way we did was extremely satisfying and after the walks up and down Isla de Sol we felt like we had conquered!