First Came the Sun
We all have our own beliefs about Creation. Maybe there was one almighty Creator, maybe there were several. Perhaps it was the handy-work of God or the exact randomness of the Big Bang. And then there’s always the question of which came first, the chicken or the egg? Here, at the heart of ancient Incan civilization, it is said that the sun came first. The sun was born here. And from the sun came the first Incas, Mama Ocllo and Manco Capac. What remains of the sun on earth is an island, la Isla del Sol.
Following our arduous workdays diving for frogs near Copacabana, Jeremy and I decided to treat ourselves to an extended weekend on the lake in order to explore one of Bolivia’s most popular tourist attractions, Isla del Sol.
At first, mental images of Spring Break and Cancun came to mind. Beach, sun, and tourists? This is going to be crazy, I thought. But I could not have been more mistaken. After a two hour boat ride from Copacabana, we arrived in the small village of Ch’llapampa. It took us about ten minutes to circle the entire town and choose our bed for the night (beachfront view, I might add). And in front of our cozy quarters we sat with our toes in the sand and a bottle of wine by our side, and escaped into the most peaceful solace; watching the women and children play futbol until the sun went down.
The next morning we packed our bags and followed the well maintained path to the Chicana Ruins and Titi Khar’ka (Rock of the Puma), birthplace of the sun.
It was getting hot once we finished exploring the ruins and Imagining what had taken place there so long ago. So we turned south, continuing along the island’s ridge.
Around midday, we reach the peak where a couple of men were collecting a toll. We paid it and in exchange they handed us a small “map” of the trails. Now we were destined for Yumani, the large settlement about 2 hours away, but the map showed a couple side trails leading to other villages on the coast, which Lonely Planet had recommended dropping by for lunch.
Warning travelers and notice to Lonely Planet: These trails do not lead you anywhere and foreigners are not, I repeat, NOT welcome by the villagers without a guide. Or so we learned after getting lost for almost an hour only to be yelled at in spanish for accidentally stumbling into someone’s pig pen while desperately seeking directions. The only good thing about getting lost on Isla del Sol is that there’s no vegetation. You can see everything. So we figured if we couldn’t go down, we’d just go back up. Straight up.
Another painful, hot, frustrating hour later we made it back to the main path, had a cookie and a laugh and kept on trekking.
We didn’t shower, out of courtesy to the locals whose only access to water is by carrying it up the from the lake. Instead we enjoyed the view and some much needed carbs (Tip: Pizza is probably the best food Bolivia has to offer… Who knew!) while, once again, watching the sun until it was gone.