As I touched on at the end of my last post, I ran into some difficulties posting it online, so I decided to follow it up with just a shorter piece on the days that followed La Paz, ahead of my Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. So here is my short post. My average sized Bolivian. My Auntie Gab. My Wawrick Davis.
One of my main reasons for coming to South America was to be able to explore Peru and actually see Machu Picchu with my own eyes. After La Paz there was just one more stop before that, the world’s largest high-altitude lake. As a 12 year-old I would have found it hilarious if I knew a decade on I’d be staying by Lake Titicaca. However, as an adult I can put titty jokes to the side, because Titicaca is phenomenal, and I’d have to say my highlight of Bolivia.
In Copacabana, I chose perhaps the most popular destination besides the lake, regrettably, on Good Friday. Previous to my arrival I’d read that pilgrims from across Bolivia fill the town, so I’d anticipated a pleasant and lovely family atmosphere, free of stress. It was anything but that. I arrived without accommodation sorted, and the place was absolutely heaving. It was so chaotic, and moving into the evening it looked likely I might not have a place to sleep. Yet weirdly, out of nowhere, a very shady man offered me a tiny room to share with a guy from Israel, and two girls from France and Denmark I’d met five minutes previous. The only thing we had in common was that we’d all just been on the bus from La Paz. It was definitely the strangest place I’ve ever slept. The toilet here smelt like a combination of tuna and Glastonbury. I think everyone was pretty disappointed with Copacabana, the influx of visitors left the place looking pretty downtrodden, and we all couldn’t wait to move on. Early next morning my temporary roommates had already left me.
After Copacabana I took a boat out into the lake to stay on the island, Isla Del Sol. Despite being a place with little going on, all there really is to do there is hike or chill, this was the best part of Bolivia. The fresh air following La Paz was glorious. Three Canadian guys were staying in the same place as me in the south of the island, Steve, Matt and Joe, who very much lived up to the stereotype that Canadians are nice people. Steve was funny, Matt liked football, Joe liked beer, I got on with them all very well. I did a day hike with those guys to the north end of the island and back. It was tough enough work. They’d already done a trek to Machu Picchu, and the day became a constant reminder of how hard I’ll find it when the time comes.
Finally, the day had come for me to enter Peru as I headed for Cusco. I spent a few days in the former heart of the Inca empire before my trek to Machu Picchu. One of my nights here was the worst sleep I’ve had on this whole trip. I’d met a German couple, and the antics of the guy in the night were utterly mind-boggling. It was like his body had been taken over by an Inca demon of nonsense. Sharp intakes of breath were followed by pig noises you might expect Mr Bean to make, scoffing on a terrible meal. Whenever the inhales slowed in tempo, the exhales did also, though remaining just as loud became more of the ‘pffft’ sound you would get from an unimpressed horse. Whenever things reversed and the inhale became the louder component, the sound was like a regular duck quack. It was the laziest compilation of farmyard animal impressions I’ve ever heard.
My attempts to silence these antics were typically English, saying nothing, and opting for dramatic positional switching, aggressive mosquito bite rubbing and vigorous beard scratching. However my annoyance had already turned into fascination. There was even a period of three inhales per exhale, remarkable stuff, that Inca demon of nonsense toying with my mind. How did this guy have such a vast array of snores? How did he not wake up? How did he have a girlfriend? His girlfriend did start breathing rather heavily at one point. I liked to think she was cross and thinking something along the lines of, ‘for fuck sake, not again *Jurgen, sick and tired of your shit now.’ Then it happened, the loudest solitary snore of them all, the bed shaker, the cow’s fart. This one broke me, all my silencing attempts paled into insignificance. Germany had won. Sleeping is a game we play for longer than 90 minutes, and at the end the Germans win.
So I lied. My short post wasn’t actually that short. Apologies that it became a bit too Gimli if you were expecting Frodo Baggins. I did not anticipate the snoring German, but I couldn’t let it slide. Anyway, the next stop of the journey, Machu Picchu.
*The snoring German was probably not called Jurgen.