Isla del Sol
No heat, no electricity and a hailstorm.
After the unhappy traveller from Sweden departed, I went to find a hostel. I climbed up a rock staircase that zig-zagged up the hills above the lake and got a room right on a ledge overlooking the lake. Like almost everywhere here, there was no heat but there were warm blankets on the bed. Everything in the tiny port town shut down at 4:00 PM. You had to climb over the hill to get any dinner after that. I was tired so I ate an early dinner and settled in to read “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and maybe try to send some emails.
Not long after I got back from dinner the wind started blowing and the power went out. Apparently every time the wind blows the power goes out. That is quite often when you are in the middle of the largest lake in South America with an elevation of 12,000 feet. The wind and rain continued into the night. The waves crashed below on the rocks, hail and rain pounded the windows. Thunder shook my room. It started to feel like the whole rock ledge was shaking but the storm was incredible to watch from my window.
When I got up in the morning everything looked fresh and clean and the sun was beginning to shine through the clouds. It would be a good day for hiking the island.
It was cold when I woke up to hike around the island. I put on two shirts, both of my hoodies, leggings, jeans, a rain jacket and my only clean pair of socks to do the hike. I was looking good with all my layers, sort of shaped like an ice cream cone but everyone likes ice cream.
There is a trail that goes from one end of the island to the other and takes about two and a half hours to walk. I was going there and back which was about 8.5 miles. I planned to hurry so I could get back in time to try a good restaurant I’d heard about before the boat left for Copacabana. My lungs started to burn early on, I blamed all the second-hand smoke from the Pachamama ceremony in the Pampas.
The hike was really peaceful and beautiful. The island has been inhabited for centuries, some archeologists believe it was inhabited as far back as 2000 B.C. It was incredible to see the ways the Incas had changed the landscapes. Most of the steep hills had been terraced for agriculture. The road is paved and lined with rocks and all around you see old rock buildings. At the north side of the island there are ruins and an Inca ceremonial table.
Incas had little respect for the concept of a steady grades apparently. The trail went up and downhill sharply, challenging my lungs and making me wonder when they would build a gondola. Still, I kept a pretty good pace because I had dinner to look forward to. I passed small groups of tourists and locals leading sheep, llamas and donkeys around the island. Although this was the main road through the island, it’s only used
My feet hurt and I was tired and hungry by the time I got back to the other side but I had really enjoyed the hike. It was a cold day but the fresh air was nice and the island had one amazing view after the other. It’s also completely quiet. I barely ran into anyone on the road. This was a bit surprising to me since it is a tourist destination. It was a little eerie at times too but I think that’s part of the charm of this island. It’s got a lot of legend surrounding it along with the dramatic landscapes.