It’s easy to take for granted the effects of being at between 2,500 and 5,000 metres above sea level, feeling breathless with lower oxygen levels, and bone chilling temperatures as soon as the sun sinks below the horizon.
Chris began to feel ropey while we sat freezing our proverbials off in La Paz bus station, and sensibly thought the best medicine was to drink as much booze on Good Friday as possible to poison the flu away.
Soldiering on over Easter weekend in Copacabana (see previous post), once the religious idolatry was over, the thousands of pilgrims packed up to leave like the Monday after Glastonbury, and left Copacabana’s lakeside beach looking as beleaguered and litter strewn as Worthy Farm itself.
Chris too felt like he’d been battered by a festival, and his man-flu returned with a vengeance, fearful it could throw a huge spanner in the works for our main focus of our trip to South America, Machu Picchu later on that week.
Undeterred, and to escape the rubbish dump left behind after Semana Santa, we took the 90 minute boat trip to Isla Del Sol to see why the Incas thought it was so special.
They believed it and the nearby Isla de la Luna is where the sun and moon were created.
Sadly, there was no Sol to be found, just torrential rain and a stand off between northern and southern islanders that rendered more than half of it closed to tourists.
Visually, the island resembled North Wales; grey, rough and foreboding. But perhaps sheltering from the hail under a Bolivian lady’s tarpaulin wasn’t its best introduction.
We put the visit down to bad luck and concluded that a sunnier day would have yielded far greater enjoyment.
And the bad weather finally called time on our relentless movement forward; a snotty and snivelling Chris demanding somewhere warm, and nice to stay.
Less hostel, but more boutique hotel, its quirky individual suites perch on the mountain overlooking the sweeping Copacabana bay, and it was the perfect place to convalesce. Was it pricey?
Much to our surprise – no! $49 for the two of us per night, and what we got was well worth the money; a two storey self catered suite, private outdoor terrace to lounge in hammocks, and most crucial of all, a log fire to bring some warmth back to both our bodies.
Nothing felt more cosy than starting the burner, curling up in the comfiest bed we’d found in South America, with a panoramic view of a raging thunder storm passing across the vast waters of Lake Titicaca through the window.
There was even a hot tub on site, but it was too cold and windy to even think about leaving our little hobbit hole!
The Belgian owner Martin could not have been any more accommodating, and we left after two nights fully recharged and ready to go.
Not since Jervis Bay in Australia did had we had the chance to sit back, take stock and enjoy doing absolutely nothing in beautiful surroundings, remembering our forgotten mantra ‘Sometimes, travelling is about standing still’.
And this time we made that place Copacabana; a ramshackle little town, sleepy once the pilgrims had gone, even though the usual dreadlocked backpackers in explicable patterned harem pants remained.
But we thoroughly enjoyed stopping and relaxing here, ready for crossing the border into Peru and tackling our next stop, the mighty Machu Picchu.