May 21 – The sun and the moon, all in one afternoon.
I think sleeping in a soft bed, so tired I didn’t roll over once, really helped ease the pain in my ribs. I can breathe relatively deep now too, thanks also to the slight drop in altitude. Even when I woke up, after breathing it all night, I stood out of bed and was bowled over by the stench we gave the room.
Our bus to the ferry was twenty minutes late, leaving us to wonder if we were gonna miss our boat entirely and not get a chance to explore the Isla del Sol or the Isla de la Luna. Staying true to Bolivian time, however, our ferry was only half full when we showed up thanks to all the other late buses.
Our first stop was the Island of the Sun. It took two hours to get there which, in plastic patio chairs, was not all together comfortable. On the way we discussed whether or not we could live in the slow-paced world of Bolivia. Devon emphatically said Yes. I said maybe, but I’d have to bring my own smut because, unlike Devon, I couldn’t beat off to Mexican murder magazines.
Once on the island The Collins began a hike that would take them to the other end of the island and most of the day. Devon and I opted for a couple hours on a secluded beach where we picked up some gringo trash and sat peacefully looking out at the rich blue lake. I did the math and realized that for all the time I’ve spent away from home, for all the time I was thrust into new experiences that eventually come to define me as a person, Devon’s been at my side more than any other single person. I would have thought that would have projected us onto a higher platform of communication, and in many ways it has. But not only does he still inspire me and make me think, but I can also still fart on him and he will still laugh.
The two of us caught a boat ride to the Isla
de la Luna which was much smaller and cost money to explore. There
was a small landing just away from the boating dock. Most of us chose
to lounge there over the fee-required option of exploration. We napped
in the sun, an activity that doubled as the most effective way to fend
off the constant stream of merchants. They don’t necessarily go away but
with your eyes closed at least you can’t see them any more.
I was hoping to chance upon some of the Islas
Flotantes, the lake’s famed floating villages. To distance themselves
from the Incas, members of the Uros tribe constructed islands entirely
out of woven reeds. There they lived, floating on hand-made islands far
out in the lake, and far away from the imposing and expanding rule of
the Incas. They still live there today but their way of life is now supported
largely through tourism. Sadly, we never saw them and had to suffice with
a postcard. I did get to see some of the reed boats though that were as
angry-looking as they were impressive.
We made friends with a Scottish couple on the long boat ride back to Copacabana. Their names were Brian and Sara, newlyweds spending their honeymoon trekking the world for the next six months. Sara was extroverted and immediately engaging while Brian was so quiet and removed I got the feeling he maybe thought we were trying to pick up on his wife. But after two hours I realized he saved his comments for the occasional wry, witty zinger.
Back at our hostel Devon and I’s room smelled not only like a locker room, but like the bathroom of a locker room. We changed as quickly as possible and went out to an Egyptian restaurant (they were the first place to not put Bob Marley on when we entered). Over dinner The Collins told us about an elderly British couple they met on their hike that got shot last summer in Thailand, and just last week were strangled and robbed in Puno (our next stop). (See, you split up with your traveling companions for a little while and you get to come back with all sorts of fun new stories to share!) We were a little horrified, of course, but when an elderly couple undergoes all that and continues to travel I am reminded why I travel in the first place – to confront new experiences and remind myself that a world exists beyond my home and job. I just wouldn’t want to travel with them because they’re obviously bad luck.
We spent the evening cruising town for something to do but only found Yair escorting two (new) girls through the streets. I recognized them. They had just checked into the room across the patio from us – the same room people kept mistaking for the baño.
As usual, we wound up back at the hostel rather early and took it easy with some books. Yair came back with the two girls and was obviously getting it on with them when someone drunkenly stumbled into the next door baño and completely lost his guts. From both ends. Not quite the most romantic soundtrack for a threesome, but now I have a submission for the next Book Of Questions: Would you rather masturbate in solitude or get it on with two others while someone in the next room had audibly explosive diarrhea?
WHN? in Sudamerica - May 2002
0 – Please wake me for meals.
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