|Realizing we only had a few days until we met Jeff and Claire in Puno, Peru, we had to leave La Paz as soon as I felt well enough to leave the hotel. Eventually, I felt better; we took a day in La Paz and went to a nice museum about the Tiwanaku culture which predates the Incas. Actually, the Incans used quite a bit of the technology, farming, and cultural aspects of the Tihuanaco era (another way of saying it). We left La Paz the next day and while getting to the bus, always a fun/interesting enterprise, I met a small kid, about 12 years old, that in a round about way asked me for some money because he didn't have enough to get his ticket. I didn't give him any, partially because I didn't want to and partially because I couldn't understand the Spanish he was using, I didn't know the word, "falta," as in "No me falta." I watched him for a little bit before getting on the bus, thought he was a good kid, and then gave him enough money to buy the rest of his ticket. His name was Miguel and he told us he was in the 5th grade. I think in US dollars, I gave him about a buck and a half. He sat behind us on the bus and followed us when we had to get off and change to a ferry and then got back on the bus after crossing the river. Actually, Laurie bought his ferry ticket too. He chatted a little with us and when we reached Copacabana, where he said he was meeting his Aunt, he just left.
We went to find our hostel, got settled in, and decided to walk through the town a bit. We began to realize we were getting hungry and since we were on the beach of Lake Titicaca, we chose a place right there on the shores. We're eating our food and who do we see but Miguel. He was alone, again, and walking on the beach. We saw him and called him over to join us. We learned that he was studying English in school and he was pretty good at it. We were getting better at speaking with him in Spanish and in English. So we were able to communicate a bit better and he told us that he was visiting his aunt and her family for a few days. We asked him why he didn't have to go to school, and grinning, he said he had permission. Letting it go, we chatted for a few more minutes, shared our food with him, and then left to continue on our separate ways.
We decided to go to a hotel/restaurant for dinner that had been recommended by other travelers, friends from home, and all the guidebooks, La Cupola. It was a bit of a hike, but the view was absolutely worth it. The next day we were heading to Isla del Sol, so we decided to celebrate Laurie's birthday on that night instead. Our dinner was also one of the best we have had in all of Bolivia. The best part for sure was our desert, Andean chocolate fondue. We did not want to leave, so we decided to book a room for the night when we returned from Isla del Sol. Since there was no ATM machine in the town, we were running out of money, and La Cupola accepted credit cards, we decided to eat there as much as we could and splurge on the honeymoon suite (for 30 bucks a night). It was a true pity that we had to use the credit card.....that fondue tasted just as good the second time after returning from Isla Del Sol.
Later that night, we continued our celebration at a great bar down on the main drag. We entered the bar and ordered a couple of glasses of Chilean red wine and got cozy on a couch. There was a great DJ that played an eclectic variety of music. When we asked him about one song (incredible horns and percussion) we found out that the saxophonist was the owner of the bar, a Frenchman. He burnt us a copy of his CD and we became friendly with the owners of the bar (they even brought us more food that they had made). Later in the evening, the saxophonist and a couple of friends began to jam on the clarinet and drums and the whole bar felt like a friend's living room. The most bizarre part of the bar was in the corner was another traveler who was cutting hair at 10 bucks a pop. He was less of a barber and more of an artist, creating designs and styles that belonged in an art catalog. He had brought his portfolio, and it was filled with shots of runway models at work whose hair he had done. He kept bugging Laurie and I to let him cut our long hair, and if we had drank another glass of wine, we probably would have let him! We left pretty late. We really enjoyed ourselves, but had to get up early the next morning to catch a boat to Isla del Sol. At the end of the night, Laurie saw a kid in the street and thought it was Miguel. I completely dismissed it as improbable and we walked around the corner to our place to get some sleep.
The next day, we wanted to get to Isla Del Sol, the birthplace of the Sun! Because we had slept in, we missed the early boat to the island. There are tons of companies that run tours and a boat that just acts as ferry (no tour). We intended on staying the night for Laurie's birthday, so we had our packs with us and didn't want to wait for the afternoon ferry. There was a guy who offered to take us over and we bargained with him for a suitable price. While more expensive than the ferry, we had the boat to ourselves. We sat up top and took in the views of one of the holiest places in Incan theology. There were old temples we could see on the top of tall hills; the terraces cut into the surrounding hills; and we could see, unbeknownst to us, Templo Del Sol, the Temple of the Sun, as we approached the island.
Landing, we had no idea where to go but came to the conclusion that we had to climb this seemingly endless ancient staircase in front of us. Up we went....slowly. And then a young looking guy asked us if we had a place to stay, as we have become accustomed to, but this guy offered to help us with our bags. 2 seconds later, he was carrying Laurie's pack and we were nearly at his whim. But he was bringing us to a great place with a nice family with 2 cute little girls. That day, we walked around the island, trying to find the Templo Del Sol and it was then that we realized that we had seen it as we approached in the boat. The temple was super old looking but still sturdy and has survived for about 5-600 years. We wondered if there had been any sacrifices done there. It was a great day and night. Unfortunately, since we were running out of Bolivian cash, we couldn't pay the senora as much as she had asked for, but her price was a little high, so I think everything ended fairly anyway. They made dinner for us, at which we had met a nice Argentine couple and were entertained by the smallest daughter and by a beautiful lightning storm over lighting up the dark sky over Lake Titicaca.
The next day, we got up, had breakfast, and who do we see but Miguel with the hairstylist and his friends. Surprised to see Miguel with them, we chatted with them as we took the ferry back to Copacabana. They told us they met up with him after the night we met them in the bar. He had been the kid that Laurie had seen on the street. And they had let him sleep at their hotel or something like that; we don't know because we just didn't ever ask that kind of detail. Kind of a strange situation and we wondered if we had facilitated Miguel running away from La Paz?
Back in Copacabana, we had the honeymoon suite waiting for us at La Cupola and would spend the day relaxing in a great room complete with sun room and a hammock. Great for playin cahds and reading and such. The next day, we had to take the bus over the border to Peru the day before we were meeting Jeff and Claire!