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Day 30 – Isla del Sol

November 9, 2010

Location: Isla del Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia

Date: Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Isla del Sol may have gotten its name from a legend that says it is where the sun—god to the Incas—was born. Or, perhaps it got it from the legend that the first Inca emperor and his wife—the sun gods in human form—rose here from the lake to found the empire.

I think it got its name because the island has no shade. Walking from the north to the south end, you are forced to bask in the sun. There are trees along some of the shore, but you’re mostly on your own. There are ruins, but after seeing Cusco and Machu Picchu it’s not much to write home about.

The appeal of the island is its tranquility and history. The place is ancient, dating back to before the time of the Incas. If I understood one Spanish-speaking guide correctly, it’s been inhabited in some way since 2000 B.C.

The hike is not strenuous, except for the part where it’s at altitude (4,000 meters/13,000 feet). It was like a light version of my second day in Cusco. Muscles not burning at all, but lungs and heart working a lot harder than they should.

The trek ended on the south end of the island. The sun set over dinner. The temperature dipped and was too cold for even my three Canadian travel mates. We scurried inside for warmth, commandeering half a table from couple of friendly Brazilians.

That night we walked out under the stars. In the distance we could make out the glow of La Paz. The sliver of a moon—turned askew because we are in the southern hemisphere—show just brightly enough that we couldn’t make out the Milky Way. Just before bed another setting, this time the moon.

The truth is, there’s nothing much to do on Isla del Sol and that’s just fine by me.

I Put It in My Mouth – A Periodic Feature on Food Told (Mostly) in Pictures

Try to say it right the first time: pizza hawaina. I couldn’t do it. It was a strange cultural mishmash. The pineapple was sliced thin and, for some reason, it came with maraschino cherries. Not bad, just different. Sort of like Crispin Glover’s career.

GALLERY: Click through to see more pics of the island and the sunset.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 16, 2010 11:27 am

    Besides the blue of the “altiplano sky”, which is spectacular, there’s the intensity of the “altiplano sunburn”, which occurs rapidly and without warning up there! At least, if you don’t have built-in sunscreen – which we pale-faces do not!!


    • November 16, 2010 5:36 pm

      I lathered up on sunscreen myself. The sky really is surreal. It’s a blue like I’ve never seen before.

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