Yesterday was another hopping off point for an adventure. First, on the docks everyone was preparing to embark on the journey to the island of the sun. It was great because all of these different small boats were leaving at the same time. So the entire way there it was like we were all playfully facing each other and pointing the way. Before our boat set off these three Argentinian traveling musicians/flower children got on and after a few words in Spanish began to play. They were so enthusiastic, other worldly, and bohemian that I couldn't help but be enchanted with them. That the two girls were gorgeous certainly did not hurt. After a couple of songs they disembarked the boat collecting bolivianos along the way and with that boat shook off its tethers and zoomed off into Lake Titicaca bound for Isla del Sol.
The arrival into the Yumani village was unique. First before you could even leave the small dock you had to pay 5 bolivianos for the privilege of entering. And there we all stood on the banks with the town towering above us. A vertical semi-circle of small houses, travelers, and Aymara people all jutting out
up into the sky. The walk up to my guesthouse was brutal. Straight up with no idea that I was even headed in the right direction I trudged. My bag feeling like a sisyphysian curse. My lungs gasping as if for their final mortal breath. I tore off layer upon layer until I miraculously arrived in a crumpled heaving mess at the Hostal Imperio del Sol.
When I arrived I was cheerily greeted by a smiling tiny Aymara women with two gold front teeth. She could not have been more helpful. I did immediately have to dust off my fractured Espanol as she spoke not a word of English. I ended the night having a delicious smorgasbord of trout, potatoes, peppers, and rice all covered with lime juice. It was dark, cold, and peaceful and also the setting of last night´s epic rant.
My room has the most amazing view. When I lie down and look over my toes there spread out for my viewing pleasure is the Cordilla Real seemingly conjured up magically out the vast Lago Titicaca spreading out into a mystical expanse. There is a four hour walk you can do down the spine of
the island, which is supposed to be the sacred path of the Incas, but that didn't quite fit Tommy No Papers laid back slacker style. So instead I without prior plan walked up to the top of the nearest tall peak, which actually turned out to be the highest point on the island. It took a little over an hour to get to the top and once I got up there I found myself a nice secluded ridge where I could sit and ponder the imponderables.
After a while of sitting there I noticed an eagle flying below me and I came up with the evocative phrase, "where eagles soar below". I was happy for a time when I became aware that now there was an eagle circling quite close above me. All of a sudden two more joined in, now they were three. More and more eagles joined their menacing flight round and round my bright orange capped ahead until there were about six or seven of them. Suddenly I felt very vulnerable and soft. What was I to do if one swooped down screaming like a bullet out of the sky to tear at my head and
face? The closest one came within ten feet of the top of my head. Thankfully, after a few tense minutes they flew off and only a couple of them remained flying beneath me again. Where the eagles soar below indeed!
At the end of the day I decided to walk back down to the harborside where I had begun my Isla del Sol sojourn yesterday. One reason was I wanted to see how the return ticket system worked since I do not have one yet and did not want to miss my chance and get stuck on the island tomorrow. The second reason was I wanted to see the grueling path with new eyes, going downhill and packless. Going down was paradise! It was familiar and my burden was light. On the way down I ran into a roommate of mine from the hostel in La Paz. I recognized the desperation and doubt in his eyes that had been in mine just the day before. I got to thinking about how so much of travel is getting over the fear of the unknown. So there I sat down below watching the last boats depart the island for the day
and thinking about how easy my packless pre-knowledged jaunt back up to the guesthouse would be...
Wrong! Holy smokes. I think it was the same amount of hard life gasping desperation the second time. Just goes to show you that Tommy No Papers might not know as much as he thinks he does.
* * * Post-Script
In the black pre-electric night. The quiet ¨Buenos Noches¨of a man passing along with his three donkeys ahead. The familiar greeting of three Aymaras sitting around in the Hostal Imperio darkness admiring the moonlight. I have a feeling of being take care of by an ancient village. This would only continue to grow if I stayed around longer. If I spoke Spanish the bonds would unfailingly grow strong. These are kind people. the ability to think uninterrupted or distracted is priceless,
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