Friday, May 27, 2005

The hottest spot (south) of Havana...or not quite.

Yes, thanks to Dad for guessing correctly, and to Barry Manilow for providing the soundtrack to the past two days. After much adventure, I finally made it here to Copacabana, on the shores of Lake Titicaca (stop giggling, that´s just the way, did you know there is also a lake in Bolivia called Lago Poopo?) You may not be surprised to hear that at 3,800 meters/12,300 feet, this is the highest navigable lake in the world. It´s also the home of the Bolivian navy. If there is ever a high-altitude fresh-water war, the Bolivians will definitely have an distinct advantage.

This is far off from the the more well-known Copacabana, the famous beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a tropical paradise of palm trees and tanned bodies. Here it´s mostly tourist restaurants, souvenir shops and, at night, bodies bundled up in as much warm clothing as can possibly be worn. It is freezing at night, although by day, and in the sun, it´s pretty nice...when the wind´s not blowing. I took a boat trip today to the Isla del Sol, which is, according to myth, the birthplace of Inca culture. I met some nice people on the boat and we had a walk through some Inca ruins and across the island´s hills from one end to the other. The lake is beautiful, perfectly clear and lined on one side by snow-capped mountains.

I must say, I am a little disappointed in Copacabana, having perhaps let Barry Manilow influence me into thinking this might be an exotic place where one might wear yellow feathers in one´s hair and dance merengue and cha-cha from eight to four. In fact, I find myself at the end of my patience with the altitude and most of all the cold. I long for a place where I don´t have to wear my winter coat and woolen hat to dinner, and pile on the blankets in order not to suffer frostbite in my sleep. Thus, tomorrow´s destination (barring unexpected strikes) is Arequipa, Peru, at a reasonable 2,500 meters. (Still, this towers over all of the mountains in the Appalachian trail, but really, beggars can´t be choosers.)