Dine in the dark on Isla del Sol
Copacabana sits on the edge of the largest lake in South America.
I arrived there direct from Peru. After dropping my pack at the hotel, I took a walk down the main road, passing cafes, restaurants and locals selling boat tickets, until I made it down to the lake front.
I hung a left at the waters edge, walked through the white plastic chairs that spilled out onto the grass, then scanned each menu before coming to the conclusion that this group of restaurants speciality was trout.
South America, I was beginning to notice, was fond of sectioning entire businesses in one place.
Trout is to Copacabana what shrimp is to bubba gump. There was trout a la plancha, trout con tomate, trout Frito, the list went on. I went for trout a la plancha. My meal was served with salad, chips and a drink all for less than I'd pay for parking back home. It was good trout too.
I stayed in Copacabana that night, then headed back to the lakefront the next morning. I bought my ticket to Isla del Sol at the dock. The boat arrived soon after to ferry us across the surface of the lake. With a elevation of 3,812m, Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world. Nearly all the boats in Copacabana are busy taking passengers out to the lakes two main islands, Isla del Sol and Isla del Luna.
The boat dropped us off on the South side of Isla del Sol, at Yumani. It's possible to stay at Yumani, close to the dock, but I'd booked accomodation up on the hillside.
With no cars or paved roads, everywhere you go on Isla del Sol, you go by foot. Or donkey. Lacking the latter, I walked past the two giant statues that guard the islands entrance to begin the trek up the stone staircase.
I was glad I'd stored my large pack at the hotel. Walking uphill at an altitude of 3800-4100m, armed with only google maps and an epileptic blue dot struggling out of range, I huffed and puffed my way to my accomodation.
When I arrived, I was shown to a humble room that had everything I needed, including a lakeside view.
Some of the other guests were there, hanging around the grassy lawn at the back of the lodging. They were discussing an American couple who had headed off solo to the North side of the island that morning.
At the time I was staying at Isla del Sol, the North side locals were in dispute with the South over the increasing amount of tourists coming to the island. As a result, the North side was closed to us gringos.
The couple who had ignored all this had made it over to the North side, but with no other tourists and only disgruntled locals for company, it'd been a long, ten hour round trip.
There was no way I'd packed enough muesli bars for that.
Since the North side was out, I set off to roam the South side, walking the rocky paths that lead to a number of ruins that lie around that part of the island.
Further up in the hills, I found a half built structure with a open aired rooftop. Up there, I looked out onto the sparkling surface of the lake, a complete 360 degree view that was uninterrupted for miles.
Apart from a few fishermen way down below me, I was the only person around.
I climbed down after half an hour or so, assessing my options. With no wifi, no cars, no walking tours and half the island closed off, what else was a book nerd to do but unleash her inner bookworm?
I stopped off at the lodging on my way back through, grabbed my book, then walked to the east side of the island. I lay down on a grassy hill in a patch of sunlight that got smaller as the afternoon wore on. During that time, the only soul passing by was a old Bolivian guy wearing a wide brimmed hat, walking the hills with four or five sheep in tow.
Aside from him, the place was void of people until sunset, when a few tourists came up the slopes to join me. The sunset on Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) lives up to the name.
The sun dropped over the lake like a bright ball melting away at the sides. On the way down it spilled most of itself out into the sky, before glowing to a small fierce light that extinguished in an instant when it met the horizon, as if the lake had put it out.
The other tourists were there for Las Velas, well-known for being the only powerless restaurant on the island that cooks and serves it's meals by candle light.
After sunset, I sat down in the restaurant to settle in for the two hour wait such culinary dedication entails.
It's worth it.
It was the most succulent fish I’ve ever tasted. Dining in the dark, I drank a glass of wine that hit my head sharp, as if the altitude had poured itself into my glass just for the fun of it.
It was a early night after that.
I caught the return ferry to Copacabana the next day, went back to the hotel, retrieved my backpack, then boarded a direct bus to the third most populated city in Bolivia.
La Paz couldn't of been further from the tranquil waters of Lake Titicaca.