LAKE TITICACA

Fisherman, Lake Titicaca
Fisherman, Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca is the birthplace of the moon and the sun, and a white god-king called Viracocha. The Incas believed their civilisation rose from its magical waters; when the Spanish came in the 16th century, rumours abound how the Inca threw much of their treasure into the lake to protect it from the bearded marauders. Though you’re more likely to catch a trout than a golden lama, it doesn’t stop the sparkly-eyed treasure hunters donning their fins. A city the scale of Atlantis is also rumoured to be found within its depths. This is a mystical place,and as we arrive at Copacabana for the winter solstice New Age travellers, would-be druids and down-at-the-heel hippies seep from the shadows.

LA LUNE, LE SOLEIL ET LE PREMIER INCA SONT NES AU LAC TITICACA. LE SOLSTICE D’HIVER FAIT AFFLUER LES DRUIDES, ET AUTRES ILLUMINES SOUS AMPHETAMINES A COPACABANA, LA PETITE VILLE NICHEE EN CREUX AU BORD DU LAC.  ELLE N’A RIEN D’AUTRE A OFFRIR QUE BARS, RESTOS ET HOTELS POUR LES GRINGOS.  NOUS BIVOUAQUONS AU BORD DU LAC ET DECIDONS DE VISITER L’ILE DU SOLEIL APRES NOTRE BOUCLE EN BOLIVIE, DANS QUELQUES SEMAINES PUISQUE NOUS DEVRONS REPASSER PAR COPA POUR RETOURNER AU PEROU. LES DRUIDES SERONT PARTIS.

Copacabana, Lake Titicaca
Copacabana, Lake Titicaca

We spend the night parked on the lakeside. There are two other Swiss-registered vehicles here. The Swiss are about the only other travellers we meet – is anybody left in Switzerland, we wonder. Copacabana is a laid-back town catering for trekkers, pilgrims and chilled out tourists. We meet a shoe-shine boy from Nasca, but in a town of walking boots and sandals he’s on a hiding to nothing. We give him some money towards the bus ticket back to Nasca. We take a tourist boat out to the Uros Islands and spend the morning with the people who live on these tiny islands.

JAMES A MELANGE L’ORDRE CHRONOLOGIQUE.  AVANT COPACABANA (BOLIVIE), NOUS AVONS PASSE QUELQUES JOURS A PUNO (PEROU), TOUJOURS AU BORD DU LAC, POUR VISITER LES ILES UROS, CES ILES FAITES DE ROSEAUX, AVEC DES MAISONS EN ROSEAUX.  LES INDIENS UROS ONT TOUT D’ABORD CONSTRUITS DES “CATAMARANS” AVEC HABITATIONS POUR ECHAPPER AUX INCAS ET AUX CONQUISTADORS.  ILS SE SONT ENSUITE CONSTRUITS ET ANCRES DES ILES LOIN AU FOND DU LAC. UN CERTAIN PRESIDENT FUJIMORI LEUR A PROPOSE DE DEPLACER LEURS ILES PLUS PRES DE PUNO POUR EN FAIRE UNE DESTINATION TOURISTIQUE PLUS ACCESSIBLE….CERTAINS L’ONT FAIT. ILS SONT ENVIRON 2000 A VIVRE D’UN TOURISME COMMUNAUTAIRE PLUTOT BIEN ORGANISE.  IL FAUT DIRE QUE C’EST PLUS FACILE QUE DE VIVRE DE PECHE ET DE CHASSE.

Uros Islands, Lake Titicaca
Uros Islands, Lake Titicaca
Uros Island ladies, Lake Titicaca
Uros Island ladies, Lake Titicaca
Uros Islands, Lake Titicaca
Uros Islands, Lake Titicaca

From Copacabana we must cross the choppy Tiquina Straits on a rickety raft with a small outboard motor fixed to the back. By the time we reach the middle of the straits the flexible dynamics of these rafts becomes all to evident to us twitchy sailors. Its timber frame creaks and groans as we corkscrew through the troughs. The bus we’ve been teamed up with has no parking brake and hurriedly we jam lumps of timber under its wheels to stop it (and us) rolling off the end. We are very pleased to reach the other side.

DE COPACABANA, IL FAUT TRAVERSER LE PETIT  DETROIT DE TIQUINA EN RADEAU MOTORISE, QUE TOUT BAROUDEUR APPREHENDE. UNE AFFAIRE DE 20 MINUTES. LE PETIT MOTEUR HORS-BORD A BIEN DU MAL A NOUS FAIRE TRAVERSER, LE VENT SOUFFLE FORT DANS LA MAUVAISE DIRECTION EVIDEMMENT.  NOUS PARTAGEONS NOTRE EMBARCATION POURRIE AVEC UN BUS QUI TANGUE VIOLEMMENT ET QUI A L’EVIDENCE N’A PAS DE FREIN A MAIN.  NOUS NOUS JETONS SOUS LA BETE POUR METTRE DES CALES SOUS LES PNEUS ET L’EMPECHER D’ENVOYER LA ROULOTTE AU FOND DU LAC. JE DEMANDE AU BATELIER POURQUOI IL N’Y A PAS DE PONT.  SANS BLAGUE, IL Y A DU TRAFFIC….ET LA TRAVERSEE EST COURTE.  LES LOCAUX NE VEULENT PAS DE PONT, IL N’Y AURAIT PLUS DE TRAVAIL POUR LES RADEAUX. IL Y A EU QUELQUES NAUFFRAGES POURTANT.

Crossing the Tiquina Strait, Lake Titicaca
Crossing the Tiquina Strait, Lake Titicaca

Back on Terra Firma we head east to the hill village of Sorata, supposedly the heart of Bolivia’s trekking country. In colonial days Sorata was the link to the Alto Beni’s goldfields and rubber plantations and a gateway to the amazon basin. It rests at 2,500 metres, something of a relief after a week at 3,800. The guidebook says there was a riot here in 2003, after the army broke up a demonstration, mowing down a campesino in the process. Apparently tourism has never really recovered – no kidding! There are only mud roads and just getting through the village is like doing the Camel Trophy. Once you get used to the visual aspect of Sorata then it really is a nice place, and the people very friendly. Being out in the sticks they have to improvise here: we pass a man washing his clothes in a wheel-barrow, his undies hanging on the handles to dry. There is a Swiss man in Sorata, a master baker by trade, and he makes wonderful cakes and excellent bread. We had a natter with him in the garden of his cafe. He’s been here fourteen years and runs cooking courses for the local youths wishing to seek work in the bright lights of La Paz.

NOUS APPREHENDONS UN PEU LA CAPITALE BOLIVIENNE, ALORS NOUS FAISONS UN DETOUR DE QUELQUES JOURS PAR SORATA, A 150 KMS DE LA PAZ POUR REPOUSSER L’INEVITABLE.  ET PUIS C’EST PLUS BAS, PLUS VERT, PLUS CHAUD. ON RESPIRE ET ON MANGE LES GATAUX D’UN EXPATRIE SUISSE (ENCORE!) DE LONGUE DATE QUI HABITE LE VILLAGE ET FORME DES JEUNES  A LA BOULANGERIE ET A LA PATISSERIE. FORMATION FAITE ET VISEE PAR LE PATRON, CES JEUNES VONT TRAVAILLER A LA PAZ, SOIT CHEZ UN CONCURRENT, SOIT DANS SON CAFE. SORATA EST SOIT-DISANT LA CAPITAE DE LA RANDO EN HAUTE MONTAGNE DE LA BOLIVIE. LES MONTAGNES ENVIRONNANTES SONT CERTAINEMENT SPECTACULAIRES, LES GENS SYMPAS. NOUS FAISONS NOS EMPLETES AU MARCHE. NOUS NOUS PROMENONS. ZERO TOURISTES.

The cheese seller of Sorata
The cheese seller of Sorata
The shoe-shine boy of Sorata
The shoe-shine boy of Sorata
A fruit seller of Sorata
A fruit seller of Sorata
The butcher of Sorata
The butcher of Sorata
"It costs how much?"
“It costs how much?”
Street life, Sorata
Street life, Sorata

Despite claiming to be the trekking centre of Bolivia we didn’t see any tourists, so I took a picture of Christine as proof thst at least some foreigners do come here.

BON, LA J’AI L’AIR DE NE RIEN COMPRENDRE….CA M’ARRIVE PARFOIS.

A confused tourist
A confused tourist
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2 thoughts on “LAKE TITICACA

  1. Merci pour les commentaires et les splendides photos !
    j’ai envie d’y retourner …
    Christine a vraiment l’air perplexe – mais pourquoi donc ?
    vous avez mangé quoi ????
    bisous de la France froide et pluvieuse

  2. ….and Christine – the only tourist – loves to be photographed ;-))
    It’s in the middle of the night, but I cant stop reading (and drinking red vine)… great !
    I love you made more pictures, wonderful shots – Im travelling with you in my mind, travelling backwards by the way, cause I started an hour ago at “Cusco to Tarma”

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