June 21 - Copacabana on the Shores of Lake Titicaca

SungateWe woke early in La Paz this morning and loaded our bus bound for Tiahuanaco, the archeological site where the ancient culture from which the Amaraya people who are the majority population of modern Bolivia are descended.  Miguel, our cultural guide, fascinated us with his explanations of how sophisticated and advanced this civilization was.  It predated the more famous Inca culture by centuries. 

These people engineered elaborate structures for ceremonial and religious purposes and they knew that there was exactly 365.24 days in a solar year.  It was particularly interesting for us to be at the site on the eve of winter solstice (remember we are south of the equator here).  Miguel explained that tomorrow when the sun first rises it will strike the ancient statue through the Gate of Kalasasaya perfectly, just as it did on June 21 since it was first constructed 2000 years ago. 

Michael Boni zipping up an extra layerBeing at Tiahuanaco with Miguel is especially rewarding because of his knowledge and as Michael Boni noted Miguel’s enthusiasm for the subject.  We were really impressed how prepared Miguel was, when we were in the museum at Tiahuanaco he had a laser pointer to point out various things in the exhibit and pieces of text for the displays.  And outside in the bright ambient sunlight as we looked at the walls and the temples, he used a reflective mirror to point out various things he wanted us to see.

You should know that it is quite cool on the altiplano.  We got zipped up in our wind breakers and fleece jackets for most of the walk.  We then road a bus to the shores of Lake Titicaca where we had trout for lunch.  We reached our hotel where we will be staying for the next two nights and watched a beautiful sunset on Lack Titicaca.

John Freeman went for a run.  He was happy to finally be in a flat area where he could stretch his legs.  There was a witch doctor who built a fire on a mountain above town that was pointed out to us.  I think Michael Boni and Keith were especially interested in walking up there to see what the witch doctor was doing on this winter solstice to bring us all good luck.

Sunset on Lake Titicaca

It is now the 21st of June and we rode a boat for an hour and a half across the still blue water of Lake Titicaca.  We have been walking for a good part of the morning on the Isla del Sol.  Miguel is still with us of course and we just visited a really fascinating Inca temple which is a very spiritual place and is still used by local people.

Right now we are having a nice lunch, sitting on a veranda by the water before we head out and begin our walk for most of the afternoon.  Remember we are at 3800 meters (12,500 feet) so even walking we definitely notice the altitude as we walk up and down these beautiful trails of Isla del Sol.  We are still acclimatizing and everyone is looking healthy.

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