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December 11, 2004

Copa, Copacabana!

Hello from sunny COPACABANA Bolivia!

Lisa here, I've been doing the brunt of the updates since Alistair is so busy with the technical aspect of our website (er his website, but temporarily mine too). Anyhow, Copacabana, not sure if the same Copacabana that the song was written about, but I can't seem to get that song out of my head...

Anyhow, we left off in beautiful Puno. It seems that you are all waiting with 'bated breath' for the arrival of more reed boat pictures... I will provide some descriptions. So, besides having had a horrible angry stomach (won't provide details) for the last few days, we were still able to go to see the floating Uros Islands. Where the Uros people live. This is a truly wild concept. These islands are actually floating and they can move them around and everything! I was rather amazed. Apparently they are about 2.5m thick with reed soil and root and reeds. Afterwards, they pile on the reeds, layers and layers. They also have houses and boats (as you might already know) made of reeds. They even eat the stuff!! And, get this... they have to replace the whole island every couple of years or so, as it gets water logged and will sink. Same for the houses and boats, only more frequently. Sounds like a giant pain to me. It also seems as if the only reason for these islands to continue existing is the tourism, which is kind of freaky. Boatloads of people every day are carted to these islands, and allowed to poke around the whole thing, even looking into their houses and what not. Each island has a bunch of artisans selling things etc. Their lives still continue on these islands, there is even a small hospital and an elementary school on them.


Our trip was only a half day trip, which was definitely sufficient, since we had some very obnoxious British people on our trip, who were very annoying and took all sorts of semi-erotic pictures with the reeds, while the guide was giving his presentation! Very annoying. We were planning on heading to Copacabana that afternoon after the islands, but decided to scope out the local markets, which were full of people selling very yummy looking fruit and vegetables, and coca leaves too! Anyhow, we decided to leave the next morning (once I was feeling better... althought little did I know that it woul
d come back with a vengeance) for the COPA, COPACABANA, about which Alistair will tell you more....

Besides Lisa's bodily ills, Copacabana has been great. Today we took a (very freakin' slow) boat out to Isla del Sol. A small island out on Lake Titicaca. We got dropped off at the north end and then Lisa and I hiked for about 45 minutes to an ancient incan ruin. We then had a two hour hike along a ridge to the south of the island where we were picked up by our boat. All along the ridge we kept getting met by young local kids trying to get us to take photos of them for a couple of Boliveanos. When that failed they would resort to begging or asking for 'caramelos.' The scenery on the island was spectacular and the sky was so blue because of the altitude.

Copacabana is jammed pack with gringos, but it still has an authentic south american feeling. We are also at altitude here (Lake Titicaca is approx 3800m). You can definitely notice the effects of the lack of oxygen. Luckily we've had some time to adjust (a week now above 3000m). One of the tricks to adjust to altitude is chewing coca leaves and drinking coca mate (coca leaves are the base for cocaine). There is some noticeable affect from chewing the leaves (a numb tongue!) and the tea does a great job calming the stomach. Coca leaves are available on the street and in bulk.


Ok, we are off tomorrow for the ancient Incan capital of Cuzco. As a side note to my nephew Jeremy, check out the pictures of Motorman Alistair and Motorwoman Lisa!

Posted by Alistair Howard at December 11, 2004 04:56 AM


Very cool you rented motorbikes, and dirt bikes at that. That bird is a great shot, too...depending on how you look at it, the scale is huge (it will eat you) or the reeds are tiny and it is, too. Like that hiking pic! Bring back some coca leaves for me.

Posted by: Jeff Werner at December 11, 2004 06:07 AM

It is illegal to bring coca leaves back. Jeff, you could get Lisa and Al into some very big trouble.... :-O Cool dirt bikes! And regarding that bird -- it was there last year too. It was freaky and aggressive. Did it attack you too? YAY MOTORMAN ALISTAIR and MOTORWOMAN LISA!!!!!!

Posted by: Sandra at December 12, 2004 03:25 AM

You can however bring back coca tea... which is just coca leaves (I think I already have some in Victoria).

Posted by: Alistair at December 13, 2004 05:14 AM

nice boats...

Posted by: sco at December 20, 2004 09:21 AM