"There's never one sunrise the same or one sunset the same." — Carlos Santana
Greetings from Bolivia! The photo was taken this morning at Ecolodge La Estancia, high atop the Island of the Sun in Lake Titica, the highest lake in the world! Yesterday my friend Ute and I walked through the border crossing from Peru into Bolivia, entering Copacabana (named first, before the one in Brazil). Our drive from Puno, Peru to the border was long, but any long drive here seems to pass quickly because everything we're seeing is so new like colorfully dressed farmers planting seeds by hand in neat rows preparing for the rainy season and the changing landscapes from the verdant Sacred Valley of the Cusco region to the drier lands of Puno as we circumnavigated Lake Titicaca to reach the border.
Our first day in Bolivia was among my favorites so far on this epic journey through Peru and Bolivia. Our guide took us to Copacabana to our private boat for an unforgettable ride on Lake Titicaca around to the Island of the Sun, where we were surpised with a glorious lunch of products found in the region. Visit the Nine Muses Travel Instagram or Facebook pages to see photos of this lunch and a lot more!
We then sailed to the Island of the Moon for a moving visit to ruins of the Sun Virgins Temple for girls born with what we'd call abnormalities like six fingers or some other "birth defect," but here they were viewed as being born special in a sacred way. Here, the women stayed and learned subjects like astronomy and became highly educated. Some returned to their towns to help teach their community. Some stayed at the temple to teach the new arrivals. Our guide let us choose three coco leaves from his bag and instructed us to walk through the site on our own, and when we found a place that felt right, we were to leave a coco leaf as an offering to pachamama (mother earth). He left us alone to feel this place in solitude, and we were the only ones there in that moment. It was a moving, grounding exercise in gratitude I'll hold onto.
Then, it was time for the biggest hike of our trip. Back at Island of the Sun, we climbed from the dock up to the Ecolodge La Estancia, at the top of the island's mountain, set at 12,497 feet! On the way, we passed the donkey loading station at the port, where earlier these donkeys had carried our own bags for the night to the hotel. The local community gathers regularly on the shore to discuss business of the island, which they manage rather like a commune, and we got to see them end their meeting and disperse up the mountain to their homes on the other side of the mountain. We met many locals along the way, all delighted that we'd learned the local word for "hello!" The young children had such sweet laughter and were outside playing without any electronic devices. As we hiked up to over 12,000', I definitely took it slow, and even the donkeys passed me. Show offs! We finally reached the hotel and our cozy casita on the hillside, where this morning I watched the sun rise over the Andes Mountains.
I'm learning so much first-hand about traveling in Peru and Bolivia, and I'd love to share with you when you'd like to plan your own travels to this part of South America. The local people are very welcoming, and we've felt so safe everywhere we've been.
Lastly, traveling through Peru and Bolivia with my friend Ute, who I've known for 10 years, has been such fun. These are great adventures to share with friends and loved ones!
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