With the exception of walking across the US/Mexico border via Tijuana, I can’t recall another time when I’ve had the opportunity to cross into another country on foot prior to this. After being on a bus for a few hours coming from Puno, Peru, I was anxious to get out and walk around. We all arrived at the immigration office and piled off the bus. With passports and about $60US in hand, we stood in line for about 20 minutes before having our passports reviewed, stamped and accepted and then walked out the door and up the hill into Bolivia. There was a large stone arch at the very top of the hill with a small brass circle directly underneath which had a line drawn down the middle and said Peru on one side and Bolivia on the other. I took a photo and then crossed into Bolivia. We walked down the hill; Lake Titicaca on my lefthand side and watched as the porters pushed and pulled carts full of our luggage up and over the hill for us for the bargain price of $1US. We then caught a bus to take us into the town of Copacabana where we walked around; purchasing small souvenirs for our loved ones back home and homemade snacks from street vendors cooking and selling their items from handmade carts. I tried the spicy popped quinoa and bought a bag to bring home as well. We walked a little ways further and then down a hill before arriving in front of the ferry dock which just happens to be across from their local military instillation. There were men dressed in uniforms performing drills outside as we walked past, a friendly reminder that we weren’t on our home soil and to behave well. We boarded the ferry which took us first over to Isla de Sol.
Isla De Sol
Isla de Sol translates to Sun Island and this was a very telling description. We hopped off the boat and after a short walk started our hike up what seemed to be about a mile of handmade steps going straight up the mountain. However, with nearly 360 degree views of Lake Titicaca, it was well worth it, as this was one of the most beautiful sights I’ve seen in my 30 years on this planet. At the tops of the steps you are welcomed by the ‘Fountain of Youth’ which local folklore says is supposed to be a source of eternal youth if you dip your hands in it. Turning to the right you continue along a winding path through green lush landscape, flowers and views of the surrounding lake where you eventually come to a resting spot. Here we were greeted by a local Shaman AKA Witch Doctor who did an offering ceremony for us. While I’m not spiritual and certainly not religious, this was a very unique experience to be a part- one I could only experience at this certain place in the world and I’m thankful this Shaman welcomed us into his culture as he did.