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SOUTH AMERICA - THE "WAITIN' FOR THE BUS" TOUR

Lake Titicaca Postcard

LAKE TITICACA

"LOST ISLAND"

Isla de Sol, the birthplace of the sun in legendary Inca mythology. I went to the travel agency and they tried to sell me the package tour that included Isla de la Luna, Island of the Moon, but I stood firm.

“No. I just want to go to the Island of the Sun.”

Strong, I walked the short distance to the Copacabana shore. I boarded the first boat that appeared approaching fullness and told them to take us to the sun and back again. Close to two hours later the boat docked at an island.

Then I can still say I don’t really know what happened…

View from Isla de la Luna
View from Isla de la Luna

OK. A bit of trouble.

Two tents stood at the top of the hill at another end of the island and I ran toward them.

“Luna?” I asked, reaching the tents, out of breath.

“???!!!???” came the reply.

“Is this Luna?” I asked again, bewildered by my own incompetence.

“Yes” came another reply, a British male, eating a peeled orange, standing half naked.

“F..k. So I am on the wrong island.”

The British guy roared with laughter, his ball-sack doing a merry jingle.

We were in a pristine location to watch any boats fade into the distance many miles away.

“Are any tourist boats likely to arrive or depart Luna today?” I asked.

“Is there any accommodation on the island, besides sharing a tent with orange peeling naked guys?” I queried.

With a piece of orange in his mouth, the British guy suggested I try asking one of the local fishermen.

Three Tourists at Isla de la Luna
Isla de la Luna

I made my way back to the other side of the hill to near where I had originally been dropped off. As I approached a small village the local men were standing on the dry grass lawn, in a circle, discussing. I stopped close by and was allowed to intervene.

One thick set man in the group understood enough English to sympathise with my circumstances. He told me the boat I had originally been on was due to leave Isla de Sol at 4 pm. To get back to Copacabana I would somehow have to get to Isla de Sol by this time. It was currently close to high noon.

A young guy intervened and said that to somehow get me to Isla de Sol it would cost 100 bolivianos - the equivalent of US$15 (or seven trout and chips meals in Copacabana). I could tell it was all a fresh experience; this circumstance was, for them, a novelty; not a daily, weekly or even monthly occurrence.

Experienced, I held the bargaining upper hand.

The young guy took me to the shore, telling me the equivalent of seven trout and chips meals was a fair price. But I was still not convinced.

Driver of motor-boat

Then out of nowhere, a group of three European males turned the lower stump of a nearby hill and, with nothing much else going on, walked towards us. They were French, on some sort of “help the poor” tour.

Mate, I am always helping the poor.

The young guy from Isla de la Luna, Bolivia suggested we split the cost of the 100 bolivianos between us.

However a boat was already due to pick them up and take them to the mainland. From there a car was waiting to drive them to Copacabana.

They told me that when the boat arrived I could get a lift with them.

The young guy left, not entirely unhappy. His motives had been pure, helping a stranger in need.

View from Isla del Sol
View from Isla del Sol

It was then that a small engine-powered boat arrived and took the four of us that remained to the mainland. They said I could then get a lift with them to Copacabana or get a lift to Isla de Sol on the same small boat for the equivalent of two trout and chips meals.

I mean, why not just try my luck…All these islands, isthmus and mainlands had me confused. How do you know if you are on an island or on the mainland or simply drowning in the sea?

Mid-afternoon and the driver of the small engine-powered boat cruised into an inlet, somewhere on the island of Isla del Sol. I had arrived but could not depart the boat until I had paid an increased fee.

Inflation in some of these countries is a killer.

I paid him the equivalent of three trout and chips meals and then started walking up a hill. Why? Apparently the jetty where my tourist boat was stationed was on the other side of some hill.

Sunset at Copacabana
Copacabana once again

However, needless to say, it was not long until I passed some familiar faces; faces I noticed from the tourist boat earlier in the day. They were walking in the opposite direction to me.

Decision time.

Do I follow my sense of direction or follow these other tourists?

Decision time.

I followed the familiar faces and was eventually lead over, around and down a hill and there at the bottom, tied to a jetty was my tourist boat; my boat to Copacabana.

Dinner that night to celebrate: trout and chips.