Thursday, April 16, 2009


Copacabana sits on the shore of Lake Titicaca, which besides its hilarious name is famous for (supposedly) being the highest navigatible lake in the world. We managed to time our arrival for the day before Good Friday. Easter Weekend is a big deal in all of Latin America, but especially in Copacabana. Thousands of "pilgrims" arrive from throughout Bolivia, Argentina, Peru, but especially from La Paz. The classic "pilgrimage" is to walk from La Paz to Copacabana, which is a bit over 100 km. The reason for the scare quotes is because although there is certainly many who arrive to Copacabana for pious reasons, it's also a big ol' party.

We had other ideas, because, well, we hate a) people and b) fun. After spending part of Good Friday in Copacabana, we had a little pilgrimmage of our own to the city of Yampupata. Yampupata is a short boat ride across the lake from Isla Del Sol, the site of the most famous of the Incan creation myths, where we could enjoy a little cosmogony of our own.

The main pious event in Copacabana is hiking to the top of Cerro Calvario and visiting the stations of the cross. At the top, there are a half-dozen stands where beside the usual Coca-Cola and popcorn, there are toy cars, tiny houses, stacks of play money and miniature diplomas. There is a purpose to these objects. If one buys a representation of the prayer, let's call it an idol, perhaps, then you are more likely to receive the real thing. We thought that the beer was also a nice touch, since it might help keep you lubricated for a long prayer sess. We later found out it's to offer to the Pachamama. So less commercial, but more Pagan?

Regardless of theological implications, Calvario has a great view of the lake.

The pagan synchronism was kept a little bit better under wraps at the Cathedral in town. It's the only Moorish-style cathedral I've seen in South America.

We stayed at La Cúpula. A little pricey by Bolivian standards ($22 for a room with heat and a private bath. The horror!), but worth it for the slackline in the garden and free hat for each night you stay there.

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