The Island of the Sun

November 6, 2005
Day 39

My hostel is the cheapest place I've stayed at so far ($2.50 per night), but it's also in a bad location. There are several bus companies nearby, so people continuously shout "La Paz" right outside my window as soon as the sun rises. Also, the curtains in my room are highly translucent, so the sun shines right into my eyes very early in the morning. Well, at least breakfast is included.

As I was packing up my stuff for the day, I accidentally dropped my already-broken small camera on the ground. "Oh no," I thought, "I probably broke the LCD screen and now it will never work." Much to my amazement, when I turned it on to assess the damage, it worked! I guess the lens just needed a jolt to get going again.

Today I decided to see the Island of the Sun, the only major attraction around town. When I got onto the boat, I noticed that several people from my Peruvian island tour and my Inca Trail trip were on the same trip, which probably shouldn't surprise me considering how often old friends reunite here. It was another long, slow ride of two hours to the island.

When we got to the island, we went through a small museum and walked to some ruins. One of the highlights of the ruins was the stone that was used for animal, and possibly human, sacrifices. The other highlight was the rock that supposedly looked like a puma. Our guide literally risked his life to show us the parts of the rock that represented the eyes and mouth of the puma. After we started saying "OK, OK, we believe you. It looks like a puma," he finally climbed down and told us about the mysterious energy the rock emitted when touched. I put my hand on it, but it just felt cold. We must have looked like a bunch of idiots trying to draw energy from a rock.

After the ruins, we were on our own to walk three hours over the center of the island. It was a somewhat difficult walk at 4000 meters altitude with some decent scenery, but we were really rushed to make it back on time. I walked at a fairly fast pace, and I still only got to the boat a few minutes before it left.

When the boat left, it immediately started rocking violently back and forth. The lake water was extremely rough. Water began crashing over the sides. I kept thinking that I could probably swim to the side if the boat sank, but my nice camera would get wrecked. We were supposed to visit another monument before going back, but it was impossible to dock, so we made the long, rocking journey back to the mainland. We made it back safely, but it got scary for awhile, especially considering that the entire time, the boat was being driven by a ten-year-old with a 75 horsepower Johnson.

In the afternoon, I took care of laundry. In the process, I found out how hard it is to wash clothes here. The first place I went to wouldn't take my clothes because I didn't have enough. The second place couldn't get them done before noon, when I had to leave for La Paz. The last place said at first that they couldn't get them done, but finally agreed to take them. I was skeptical, but I wanted clean clothes, so I gave them up, hoping they would be done in time.

Tonight, I went out to dinner with some of the people from my Puno islands tour. We had a great time chatting away and drinking our free piña coladas before checking out a band that played traditional Cuban and Columbian music. They were amazing, but they stopped playing shortly after we got there. I found out that the band's main member was a guy from France who also owned the bar. Moving away and opening a bar suddenly has a new appeal for me.

The photo album for this entry is here.

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