Published: June 6th 2006May 20th 2006
This sleepy lakeside dusty town is a great place to just chill, do a little hiking, exploring and visit the island of the Sun while you´re at it.
We stayed at Hostal Sonia for the duration, a good place - double room for $5US a day with a lukewarm electric shower - not bad, and took advantage of their laundry services. Clean clothes are good and by the time we arrived we were running dangerously low on tidy clothing.
The family were very nice, we could have made use of the kitchen during our stay but decide to have breakfast there - great scrambled eggs and fend for ourselves at the many eateries in town - for such a small place they have plenty of choice.
My favorite place was Orillas with a great variety of dishes to choose from plus they do the only decent nachos in town complete with guacamole and salsa while Sean would probably choose the Bistrot down on the water front because they do a MASSIVE cheese burger - Roberto (the owner?) is Columbian and speaks fluent English has been living in Bolivia for about 20 years.
There were a few other places
too, but unfortunately, I can't recall the name of the place where we had chicken tacos, a tiny hole in the wall and I'm pretty sure when we ordered they sent out a guy to get the ingredients for our meal when the tacos finally arrive, lets just say we finished one big beer between us while we waited and ordered another to go with the actual meal! Like I said earlier very sleepy town... nothing moves too quickly here which is a change from the hovering type of places you sometimes encounter back home where turn-over is high - I think we spent at least three hours there not due to service really but we began talking with South Africans who were looking for a place to eat.
Clare and her mate Philip had stopped by to ask what we were having and later returned to have lunch and ended up talking for at least a couple of hours before heading up to the stations of the cross to get the best view of the setting sun. A lot of peeps ups there taking photos and just enjoying the view we had our torches (flashlights) with us because
once the sun set it was very dark but we managed to get down most of the steps before losing the daylight.
Most people seem to pass through Copacabana for a couple of days on the way to La Paz or the opposite direction to Puno or beyond to Cuzco. We met people going both directions the main attractions we found after a week were the Virgin of Copacabana Grotto, the Banos del Inca, the cemetary
and the Inca ruins
adjacent to the cemetary just behind the gas station.
The next morning we went to the Isla del Sol - the legendary birthplace of Inca civilisation, in the lake to the east of Copocabana - and saw Clare and Philip again when we arrived on the Northside of the isle we all headed straight for the que (line) for the toilet with our respective 1 boliviano in hand to get our tissue from the chola manning the entrance. That all done we all crambed in to the little museum. It was a bit too crowded and since I missed most of the lecture due to waiting for the bathroom I decided to wait in the Sun, for warmth,
until the group finished indoors.
Our guide in training had informed us that he just completed his first two months of English and being that most of the group we either Spanish speaking for English speaking he asked me of all people to translate - kinda put me on the spot but I did a pretty good job if I say so myself. It was quite comical actually becuase he wouldn't pause to let me translate, bit by bit, so It look like I said so much less than he did! Ugh, maybe I could become a tour guide once I get the facts down pact?
The island of the Sun has Inca ruins on both the North and Southsides but apparently like most North/South divides they don't get along too well which might explain why we spent a whole ten minutes in the Southside ruins?
Basically you get toured around the Northern ruins and there is a ceremonial table with blocks circling around it some say they represent the 12 months of the year another legend our guide mentions was that there are underground network of tunnels that lead to both Cuzco and Cochabamba but has
never been proven. Also there is a lost underwater city that offerings have been found - by Jacques Cousteau amongst others - and are now displayed in the little museum at the beginning of the tour.
We begin our walk across the island for panoramic views only as there are no other ruins to be seen until you get back on the boat on the Southside. The walk takes about two hours maximum three if you going at a slow pace. We made it to the Southside of the Island decided to get some chips (French Fries) and drinks at a shack before descending the steps down to the boat.
Turned out we would have been better off just getting a drink then when we went to pay they didn't have change so I ended up buying all these crafts made by the daughter of the owner just to sort of break even and by this point we basically had to run down the stairs we were the last people on before setting off to the next ruin!
As we set off to the final site apparently there was at least one person left behind - I
hopefully realized within the year of being blessed ...thought of geting a house but then thought better of it...
didn't see him but someone said he was jumping up and down to no avail...he got the next boat back to town.
Now that we were very relaxed and seen nearly all the sites Cochabamba has to offer we thought it's time to head out to La Paz.
You should see the float-ferry the put the tour bus on, my gosh, it's amazing it didn't sink!
There are more photos below