Friday morning at Camino was another wonderful day full of one on one therapy sessions and many different group activities. The children at Camino are responding very well to the popular game Zingo! which helps combine their math skills with their oral skills as they “use their beautiful voice” to say “yo tengo el numero..”. “Circle time” is also in full effect with the younger children as we as trying to develop sustainable activities that the teachers can continue on with long after we leave. The children seem to really like the “plin plin ” song as well as “los elefantes” to help get circle time going. The children are Camino are truly amazing to work with.
After a quick lunch we headed off for Lake Titicaca! We had been talking about this trip for a while so the anticipation was mounting. We arrived to Hotel Gloria in Copacobana in about 4 hours. We were all looking forward to a nice relaxing dinner. We found a restaurant near the hotel and settled down for some delicious trucha (trout)! During dinner some local musicians played us some traditional music to start the weekend off right.
Dinnertime entertainment from “Los Choclitos” Sunset on Lake Titicaca, view from Hotel Gloria, Copacabana
Saturday morning started off with a delicious breakfast at Hotel Gloria, followed by a walk down to the water to meet Ismael, who would take us on his private boat from Copacabana to Isla de la Luna and Isla del Sol. The ride to Isla de la Luna was about 90 minutes, and we got some beautiful views of the mountains and the Andes peaks as we watched from on top of the boat!
At Isla de la Luna we were greeted by some cholitas selling necklaces, belts, and figurines of typical Aymara symbols. As we walked up the island with these women, we asked them about some of the things we have learned about the Aymara culture, such as child rearing and education. We also got to look at the Templo de las Vírgenes, where beautiful Inca women were once sent to maintain an eternal sacred fire.
After departing from Isla de la Luna, we made our way back on Ismael’s boat toward Isla del Sol, where a hefty hike up a steep mountain awaited us. Our bags were sent up ahead of us on Ismael’s donkeys as we all made the journey uphill. As we got higher and higher, we were able to see more and more of Lake Titicaca below us. We passed by donkeys, sheep, and llamas, as well as Aymara men and women, and other tourists. Note: if you see an adorable llama and decide to take a picture, be sure there are no small children around who will try to charge you for it – otherwise, they will follow you up the mountain until you erase your photo! Along the way, we stopped for lunch at the Luna Restaurant – I think the large group of us may have surprised the woman working there! After eating, we took to the mountain once again.
By late afternoon, we reached the Puerta del Sol, the hotel run by Ismael and his family. After we settled into our rooms (which were absolutely lovely, despite having no heat), we decided to go for yet another hike, because one trek up a mountain a day is never enough!
Views from the top
After a delicious dinner of trucha (trout), habas (beans), and potatoes, the group met with Agapo, a yatiri (Aymara shaman) who prepared a special misa for the whole group, complete with tinsel, llama fat, sugar, and coca leaves. We then went outside (it was quite chilly by this point) and watched as Agapo burned the ingredients as an offering to the Pachamama to bring us good luck and success in our futures. Then we bundled up to go to bed so we could get up early for a sunrise misa the next morning!
VERY early Sunday morning we arose to meet Agapo to do a traditional Shah-man blessing while the sun rose. It was an example of what is typically done on winter solstice. At 6:10 we followed Agapo to where he usually does some of his traditional rituals. It was a beautiful ceremony filled with many blessings of good fortune, travel, good luck with our studies, and any future encounters. The sun rising was also an amazing way to start the day. Then after a quick breakfast we made our way back down Isla del Sol to meet our boat back to Copacobana.
In Copacobana we had some time to wander, shop, and explore. Copacabana is a destination for tourism in Bolivia. Our Lady of Copacobana is the Patron Saint of Bolivia and this is truly felt when visiting the Church. On Sunday’s many people travel to Copacobana for the blessing of the cars ceremony. There were many cars, one even from Peru, gathered in front of the church waiting to receive their Blessings. Time was well spent at Copacobana taking in the sites and looking around in the local shops.
Then we made our way back to La Paz. On the way back we encountered a local city celebrating their community.
We arrived safe and sound back at Hotel Rey Palace to begin work on another busy week. We are excited to see the children at Camino tomorrow and enjoy our week with them!
Theresa and Carla