Sunday, 29 March 2015

Exploring Rio de Jenario during Carnival week

Carnival. I had no idea what it was or that it even existed in Brazil till a friend from Hong Kong “L” told me about it. L was the reason I was in Rio. I was about to skip Brazil entirely, save it and bottle it for a few more years letting it age like good wine so that when I come back to South America one day I could do Brazil entirely. L just wanted to see Rio and Carnival and was flying in all the way from Hong Kong for a week and asked me to join him so we could look out for each other’s back since he thinks that Rio is dangerous.
So the major re-route and detour and after taking the Death-train and a 32 hours bus ride from Corumba I finally reach Rio and was kinda excited for Carnival. I never got to see the ‘Paid’ carnival for it was really expensive but during the Carnival week in Rio, me and L were hunting down all the street parties that they call Bloco. Bloco was on the streets all over Rio where the performers do dry runs and rehearsals and the public party all around them. Some of the Bloco were pure ridicules and some were good but one thing for sure weather good or no good the locals still party like crazy to bad music or even no music at all.
Street Bloco in Rio
It’s all about crowd. If you have enough people gathering regardless of the event a party will eventually break out. The craziness I mention was not about the crazy parties in the streets but the crazy people that would just gather and waiting for something to happen. Wardrobe malfunction seem to be the theme of the Carnival in Rio. Superman, Batman, Cinderella, spandex’s, funny headbands, bowtie of male strippers, and many more weirder stuff I could not describe thronged the streets of Rio. If you dress normal or sexy or handsome …. You will stand out ….
L pretended to be a Japanese photographer tourista and snapped way too many shots of Girls on the streets and I would be yelled at to pay them money for getting a photo taken while he walks away pretending not to understand a word. Just don’t go snapping pictures of guys or girls with bf that will beat us up I told L.   

Sit down Musician Bloco
No two bloco was the same as far as I saw. The first was like a karaoke with just one person with a mike on top a huge big truck and lots of people dressed up in front and behind the truck but no performance. Just singing (all Portuguese so I can’t understand shit) and everyone around either standing and looking or trying to groove a little. The second was better with percussion drums and dancers in formation practicing their routine. Third was a sit down bloco where amazing musician set up a tent and booth and was playing incredible classical Brazilian style music.
Percussion Drums & Dance Bloco
Then there was the numerous bloco that got cancelled or we were late and it was finish and left a crowd waiting and wondering what we were even doing there. Then there is the samba and Froco. I did not manage to catch a samba but a Froco was like traditional music, slow and people danced in pair’s boy and girl grooving with hips attached with the occasional twirl.
I went all around Rio looking for Bloco finding it interesting never knowing what you gonna see. Sightseeing was along the way but always with an eye lookout for a great bloco. The actual Carnival event thou was super-duper expensive going up to nearly few hundred USD dollars and I was not about to spend that much money, Carnival or no Carnival. Bloco thou was free so I keep hunting.
The good part about Carnival was that you could go almost everywhere safely due to the high amount of police deployed to safeguard the humongous volume of tourist that comes just to party. Favela areas (Dangerous Drug Lord Slums) were also opened for Bloco event and mass groups of people flood the are including the police.

For a week it was safe from the normal crazy people but then again drunk crazy people was everywhere. 

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Corumba to Rio

Corumba in Feb 2015 was a hellish hot at 37 Degrees during the day it was super burning. I took a long awaited shower after crossing the border and a 18 hours train ride only to be soak and sticky smelly again in 5 minutes out of the shower. Walking around town looking for that first bank or atm to make sure that my card works in Brazil I got a tan in less than an hour but luckily no sunburn.

BRL 329 for the 30 hours bus ride to Rio. Superbly expensive compared to when I was in Bolivia not long ago. Still there was no other option so I paid the bus ticket and went back to the hostel and locked myself in the air-condition room.
Androniha Bus from Corumba to Rio
The next day; Bus was late, didn’t show up at 1130 but finally at 1215pm it came and we all rush inside the bus to seek shelter from the heat and air conditioning. How I survived a 31 hours bus ride, I still wonder. The bus was good and comfy with toilet, WIFI and power point as well. Still 31 hours of just sitting and doing nothing drags at your mind and soon I was in zombie state. Pit stop, smoke, eat, drink, pee, back on the bus and sleep.

Along the way we had many stops and police checks as well. Totally looking for drugs the bus was pulled over and searched inside and undercarriage as well. I was asked questions in Portuguese which I had no idea what they say. One police asked … English ??? I said yes and she signal her buddy and he could speak a bit of English. Amazed that a Malaysian that does not know Portuguese was on the bus he asked some standard traveller question and gave me back my passport with safe travels wishes.
Soon sleep was even too much and I gave up being cautious, taking out the tablet hoping I won’t get robbed or targeted and started reading. Soon even that was too much but nothing else I could do but just alternate between sleeping and reading and always checking google map to see where I am and how far I have to go before Rio, the small dot showing where we are never moving faster than I hoped. There was no food on the bus even for that price that I paid. Every 6 hours or so the bus would stop at a super large rest area which sold food and a little groceries.

When I thought I was finally going crazy, the bus stopped at Sao Paulo unloading passengers and one cheerful guy glad to be rid of the journey shook our hand with a large grin on his face saying good luck and have fun.
31 hours exactly plus 1 hours ahead time difference made it 32 hours and I was in Rio. Journey was not ended yet and I was out the station looking for how to get to the hostel. Local Omibus and I hopped on for 15 Real to the street near the hostel, hopped off and use the GPS on google maps to walk to the hostel all the while thinking this was bloody dangerous. I had no idea if I was in a good neighbourhood or bad one and walking around at 10 pm with a phone in hand and full backpack was a stupidly easy target. I had to trust that my friend I was about to meet choose a safe place to stay and thankfully he did.

Got to the hostel and while checking in I saw the friend I was rushing to meet sitting at the table engrossed in his phone …. Mission accomplish J
Never again I said to myself …. But long bus ride in South America was just the beginning.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Death Train Bolivia & Border Crossing – Puerto Quijarro (Bolivia) to Corumba (Brazil)

The Death-train in Bolivia is the train that goes from Santa Cruz to Puerto Quijarro a small town at the border of Brazil near the Pantanal region. Wondering how dangerous this would be I consulted Wikipedia and apparently it was called the Death-train due to its purpose of transporting yellow fever infected during the early years hence coined the Death-train where people on board were more or less on a journey to death door.
Death Train - Bolivia

I got on the 2nd most expensive train the Oriental Express, more due to timing (Different Days different train service) rather than choice. It was 100 Bolivianos about 20 SGD for an 18 hours ride throughout the night which had air conditioning in the train and good reclining seats. Food however was a challenge for they would stop at one station near to dinner time and local kids would board the train selling all kinds of cooked food to the passengers before hopping off just before the train moved again. Some of those food look like it was hunted in the nearby forest and cooked to taste like chicken.

Border Crossing – Puerto Quijarro (Bolivia) to Corumba (Brazil)
Puerto Quijarro
The train arrived in Puerto Quijarro in the morning on time at 6 am and there were taxi waiting to shuttle people where they wanted to go. I took a stroll along the dead town, maybe because it was too early in the morning but it was really small and uneventful. Eventually I hailed a cab and got to the border which is a short ride but not so short if you are walking. It cost me 5 Boliviano ….
Border Control - Bolivia
Everyone was queuing up waiting for the Bolivia border control to open. You could walk into Brazil and no one would stop you. Some money exchange shops were nearby and I dumped all my Bolivianos for Brazilian Reals. Exchange rate was fair and good. (The immediate vicinity of the Brazilian border control has no shop whatsoever).
The border control finally opened at 730am and the slow processing of clearing one at the time dragged on for 2 hours before it was my turn at the counter. The officer did not ask me anything other than my passport. As far as I could tell he was viciously keying in every form of permutation he can think of my name, passport number, nationality, identity card number but the computer return nothing to his efforts. I understood that he was trying to find my entry on the registry and he was failing at it. I was a ghost in Bolivia apparently.
I had all the right stamps and all the Visa plus the paper slip so the officer and I knew I would leave eventually but he just needed to get that data entry done. Take a seat and wait was what I understood after 10 minutes of trying and my passport was passed on to the next office. Stuck for another hours waiting.
While I was waiting I saw a sign (written on paper) on the counter which I translate as :
Exit Tax
Nationals of Bolivia - 15 Bol
Foreigners – 100 Bol  
Sitting down just waiting all things went through my mind for I had dumped most of my Bolivian money for Brazilian Real and had only 40 Bol left in my pocket ….  …. Dammit I should have change after getting the exit stamp. I clearly remembered there was no such fees when I checked on the internet so what was this all about ?? Was it an open bribe ?? No way to know till I got my passport and imagination ran wild during the 1 hour of waiting

Finally a lady came back with my passport and passed it back to the same officer. I was called to the front and he processed the exit with a stamp and passed me back the passport and waved me away. I did not need to pay anything apparently (Thou everyone was paying for some reason) and quickly left before they change their mind.
Border Control - Brazil
4 Hours now approximately and moving on to the Brazilian side of border control. 5 minute walk and back in the queue line. Another hour of queue and during that hour I got to see the Brazilian police in action where during one of their random checks of cars passing through they found one with drugs in it. All guns was in the hands pointed at the one man and one woman while they were slowly being removed from the car and put in handcuffed.

My turn up the counter and the Officer looked at my passport and immediately turn around and started conversing with his other colleague. Why am I not surprise. A question came in Portuguese and I was lost. His English was also non-existence and I had to fumble my way through with Spanish instead.
He asked me if I needed a Visa for Brazil and I said no while he double checked it with a file. The officer also asked how long I was traveling in Brazil and my standard one month answer came up and he nicely only gave me exactly 30 days. I need to start learning how to say 90 days ….

Important :
Lookout at the entry stamp and make sure the number on the right side is an Odd number which means entry into Brazil. If the Officer weather on purpose or accidentally give you an even number then you have just entered Brazil with an exit stamp which would make leaving the country very tricky.
Into Brazil, No Visa for Malaysian passport holders, no bribes and no customs just immigration which if wanted one could skip all together and enter illegally since no one checks … but crossing a rural border with a Malaysian passport took me 6 hours in total.

At Brazilian side of border control there is no stalls or shops whatsoever, just a bus stand, a taxi stand and a motor taxi stand. I was so tired I jumped on the motor taxi …. An actual motorbike with my backpack behind me and he took me to the hostel for as little as 15 Reals …. I miss Bolivia already … and dreaded how expensive Brazil is going to be compared to Bolivia.  

Welcome to Brazil …


Monday, 16 March 2015

Passing by, Potosi – Sucre – Santa Cruz

There will always be a place or places where you just skim by, there not by choice but merely a stop to break the journey along the way especially when one is rushing to get somewhere far away by a certain time. Thus that was Potosi – Sucre and Santa Cruz for me in Bolivia trying to skip hop as fast as possible to the border town of Puerto Quijarro - Corumba so I could try to get to Rio in time to keep my promise to meet a friend by a certain date.


Potosi was a gruelling-winding 4 hours bus ride away from Uyuni. I have done longer bus ride bus before but somehow this one was just edging on my nerved and I could not wait to get out of the bus when we reached Potosi. Arriving at night in Bolivia is not a good idea I realized as bus stops are usually out of the way a few miles outside the city and with most cities in Bolivia leaning on slopes getting lost and just wandering around is not very pleasant and can be quite exhausting.

Taxi was hard to spot at night as well since only a small sign or sticker on the front window marks the cars as a taxi. I manage to get one after nearly half an hour blundering about and gestured him to the preselected hostel Koala Den.

Other than the silver mines there is nothing much to do in Potosi and I was not keen on entering the mines for one bit. There are tours where they first bring tourist to the miners market and nice tourist will be obliged to buy coca leaves, equipment’s or even dynamite to be given as gifts to the miners while visiting the mines to show sincerity. Working in underground construction sites before I wish some nice tourist would come visit my workplace and bring me goodies but hell I work down there for the money and was pretty sure mining silver was the same thing. Call me inconsiderate but everyone does things by free will … there is no such thing as no choice …

I did however tried to locate the miner’s market by foot which I did and the market which was not a market but really just shops along a street selling construction gear. I would say it was like a hardware shop along a street. Potosi did feel a little more dangerous for some reason. I walked everywhere to places I guess I should not have walked, got looks and stares and felt really unsafe outside the main square when I was wondering further and further away to unknown places and at many times I almost just turned back but somehow kept going. Nothing happened but I could not shake that feeling away.

Without much to do I left after two nights of rest to Sucre ….

The most interesting sign I have ever came across during the travels so far and also the most enlightening one was at the bus station in Sucre about the taxi’s in Bolivia

What great notice signpost. The first time that I have an inclination of how much a taxi should cost thou it made no difference as the Taxi drivers will never give a foreigner a local price tag so I settled for 5 Bolivianos instead which was still cheap.

Sucre is known as the most beautiful city in South America. I can’t say much to that for it seems true with all the nice neo-classical building which seems to outshine any other city I have visited so far in South America. Still it was nowhere near the beauty of the cities in Europe.

The place is known for tours to see the dinosaur tracks imprinted on a Clift but that’s about it. I could not be bothered …. Passing by remember but good to know it’s there I guess.

The other mission I had was to find a memento for Bolivia. While researching about the border town of Pueto Quijarro they mention about a mine and about a stone called Bolivianita or the actual term Amtrine. Apparently the only mine that produce this kind of stone was in Bolivia where it is a mix of two type of crystals in colours of purple and yellow. No other mines in the world have its kind of property so I was set on a hunt to find it.

Almost could not find any bolivianita and I had to resort to scouring the internet for places to buy bolivianita in Sucre. It was still not easy even than for there was no central big souvenir market that sells it, so looking at the shop name and address I went on a hunt. Once I found the first shop that sells bolivianita, I then know what I was supposed to look for, jewellery shop the expensive kind but as small as 16 m2. So from show to shop I hunted the gemstone, and compared prices and look at the shapes and eventually bought more than I should.
Santa Cruz

If I was passing by Potosi and Sucre I was more or less just stopping for a piss break in Santa Cruz. Got off the bus just to find the cheapest hostel there is before I headed back to the train station to get a ticket the next day on the famous Death Train to Puerto Quijarro.

I was in Santa Cruz on a Sunday …. Everything was close

I did had a quick glimpse of the city which was set in rings of circle. Circle upon circle and although flat it felt worse than La Paz. Santa Cruz was warm climate and after traveling through all the high altitude, cool climate of Bolivia, suddenly you get tired just from the heat and humidity.

Out the next morning on the 18 hours journey on the Death Train to border town Puerto Quijarro.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

3 Days 2 Nights Tour of Salar De Uyuni

There is only one reason to be in the desolated town of Uyuni, to go on a tour to see the salt flats and National Parks. If there is one thing in South America I would tell people to never miss witnessing with one own eyes, it would be the salt flats of Uyuni, Salar de Uyuni. Still just because it’s unbelievable does not mean one should fork out whatever the local tour agency ask for.

I arrive early in the morning at 7 am from an overnight bus from La Paz and technically I could have hopped on a tour that morning itself at 10 am if I manage to find a tour agency and slog out the bargaining and price cutting in a mere 3 hours. I decided to get a hostel and slowly scout the vultures. Tour operators after tour operators I went in and asked for the price of the 3 days tour, 1 day tour, 5 days tour and in my mind worked out that the three days tour was the most value for money.

Now I just need to squeeze the cheapest one out, so I continue walking always promising the hopeful salesman/woman that I would return after careful thinking. 900 Boliviano, 800 Boliviano, and the price hover never lowering below 750 Boliviano but I had nothing but time and a full 24 hours to be actively seen lurking around. One shop after I walk out barely 2 feet away the lady came running out and pulled me aside carefully making sure the current customers inside was not aware she was going to offer a special price cut just for me. 700 Boliviano.

I wonder why I even bother to waste time for such small amount of money …. Technically 800 Boliviano was SGD 160 and that was for 3 days’ worth of transport, food and lodgings which means only SGD 53.33 a day plus a tour guide. At 700 it makes it SGD140 …
So the next day I was on a tour for 3 days to be stuck with 6 random strangers on one hell of an amazing tour in Bolivia Uyuni.

3 Days 2 Night Uyuni Tour
I was on a Spanish speaking tour with Spanish speaking people with local South American tourist with the furthest tourist from Spain (apart from me of course) Ola amigos …. Do you speak English? Our group consisted of 4 from Chile, 1 from Peru, 1 from Spain and me from Malaysia. I almost decided to be a lonely soul but thankfully a few spoke English and after a few days into the tour I even surprise them by some in-depth Spanish vocabulary such as “Chika Rico”
Uyuni is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in all my travels so far. The landscape is by far the harshest yet beauty as always thrived when no human is involved.

The Salt Flats
In one word …. Unbelievable. I have seen pictures of these on facebook on one of those post where it says “top 10 something to visit before you die or something”. I thought it was pure nonsense for sometimes amazing photo shoots just wreck in actual sight but if the photos was unbelievable, being there itself was 10 times more unfuckingbelievable.

Salar de Uyuni
Salar de Uyuni
What we saw of the sky meet the ground making it look like one is walking in the clouds was not just one direction but all 360 all around and even knowing it was a reflection you could not see the actual ground 3 feet from where you stand without concentrating hard. You have to be lucky thou for if there was no rain for a week there was no water and with no water means no unfuckingbelievable sights.

Go crazy, take photos after photos but eventually you just stand there and look on forever … well till the pain in the bare feet kicks you back in reality for the salt lakes was actually just that … salt lakes. Walking barefoot on salt was painful after a while.
Train Cemetery

It’s amusing how anything can be a tourist attraction given enough idea and concept. Just outside of Uyuni town is a place where trains go to die. Unwanted old junk from long time ago was left there to rust and fall apart with grace. Now it is a major stop for all those on the 3 days tour to have a look at this beautiful timepiece made accidentally and could never be removed for the more desolated and eerie it feels the better for tourist business.
Train Cemetery -Uyuni
Rock Formations, Desert, Lakes, Wildlife
Large parts of the 3 days tours is looking out the window. The driver packed three big containers of petrol on our rooftop and we were on a drive every day from sun up to sun down looking at scenery of the desolated desert. From time to time the driver would pull up at scenic spots for photos to be taken or just a minute to absorb the beautiful landscape.

No roads although the GPS on my phone said we were on a road, it was more of dirt road paved by many tourist 4WD frequent tyres. This was a desert landscape with the snow caped Andes Mountain on the backdrop and lakes that form up from places to places. Naturally with such desolated landscape most of the view point stops were near lakes which vary from clear blue colour to aquamarine and orange slush. The guide explained that the colour of the lakes were due to the microorganism living in it that cause a chemical reaction.
Eventually on the 2nd day we reached the Andean Wildlife Reserved Eduardo Avaroa. Here we saw thousands of cute pink flamingo. If you ever see a flamingo, you will need to see a pack of flamingo fly. It just brings out the kid in me for it look exactly like what Walt Disney portray in classic cartoons. Unfortunately these are one of those see with your own eyes and leave the camera in the pocket event.

Geysers & Hot Spring

Last day of the trip was Geyser visiting and Hot Spring dipping. 4 am early in the morning we were woken up in the cold and grit our teeth to visit the geyser. No spurting columns of water like Indiana Jones but more of spurting columns of gasses. The whole area was steaming off vapour mixed with sulphuric smell which was not that pleasant. I personally felt the cold morning was not worth this blasphemy smell but then there was the boiling molten mud on the ground.
Blub blub … that is one hot melted and cooked earth soup shit was what all I could think of.
Then it was hot springs. It was so cold in the morning, so so cold. Fuck it …. and the guys proceeded to strip down as fast as possible and ease into the pool. The first burn balls in the freezing cold morning was way better than any breakfast I have ever had. Now if only someone could get me food and wine and let me stay here forever so I don’t have to get out into the cold.





Sunday, 8 March 2015

Death Road Biking & La Paz

La Paz, Bolivia. I wonder how many people loved the city for its amazing weirdness and just how much more left without even spending 24 hours there due to its dirtiness. My first feel of La Paz when the bus came round the corner at the very top edge of the city was that the city sat on a huge bowl and that Bolivia is crazy. Why would someone build a city in this manner with a steep 45 degrees uphill 360 all around from its centre?
The sight from above was magnificent I must say with all the tattered house build with good solid red bricks but no money to plaster it or put any kind of good finishing on the outer surface. In the focal point of the bowl tall buildings could be seen jutting out to reach the skies yet nowhere close to the height the houses on the outer edge of the bowl.
La Paz - Bolivia

Getting off the bus and the noise, dirt and grime came into presence. I love a good rustic city, horns a blazing, rumbles of cranky old cars and the smell of good hard 3rd world industrial pollution. The latter I could do without. I immediately realized at 4000m above sea level, fumes and dust flying around and a city that forces you to walk uphill eventually, La Paz was a challenging city to live in. I considered if one has a car he/she could live in this crazy city with the bloody steep terrain but looking at the horrendous traffic and the level of sanity one must abstain from having during driving it was actually faster and safer to walk.

La Paz thou beautiful from afar it is very ugly up close. I actually liked this city …. but will never live here for a smoker lifespan if already short would be shorter in La Paz.
Death Road Biking

I was shopping around a lot for a mountainbike tour down the infamous Death Road of Bolivia and ended up paying the standard 450 Bol for the tour. Good bikes with front and back suspension. I was a bit worried at first for the safety and weather I would get through this unharmed since I had no insurance but then again I was in Bolivia ….. these people look at danger and yawn at it.
The morning pick up and round around the crazy city of La Paz picking up the rest of the bikers. We finally started getting out of the city and up into the mountains.

Start Point ... Warming up
Is that snow ???
Shit it was so high up for the first leg of the biking that the mountain was covered in snow. Stepping out of the van I started shivering immediately. The first part was on the tarmac road which was fine and easy going if you could ignore the cold.
Start riding and all safety mind-set went out the window. I was riding No Hands style most of the time and downhill all the way meaning I just had to relax and follow the winding road. Pretty nice actually thou bloody cold.

Finally starting point of the actual Death Road. Dirt road so narrow without any guardrail and a valley that falls perpetually 80 degrees all the way to the bottom and it was a long way down as well. Looking at the van that was going to follow us bikers behind I had no doubt the real death road rider was the driver of the van. Riding a bicycle is easy when you have road barely wide enough to fit a van.  
Started slowly like everyone else and eventually most of us got crazy going as fast as we could. I even tried No Hands on dirt road and it worked. Always skidding in the corners it was exhilarating as hell and then there was the waterfalls that we had to ride through, 1 feet deep rivers to balance through, narrower roads that one could possibly imagine and more drops. All this while the van followed us behind us tyres inches away from the edge of the cliff. If you fall and injure your ankle, wrist, knee or whatsoever during the ride, I would think it was safer to cycle downhill with the pain then to sit in that van.

End of the road and a few shacks and huts were there to greet us with cold beer. It was the best downhill bicycle I had ever done …. Was glad I spend the money …
Death Road - Bolivia

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Isla del Sur – Copacabana, Bolivia

Copacabana is a quiet town, the main street is lined up especially for tourist and they would love to sell you a tour and a ticket out of Copacabana. I join the line of suckers I guess and went for the day trip to Isla del sur before getting a ticket out to La Paz. 

Main Tourist Street of Copacabana
Although Copacabana is a very small town there were still a few things to see and I manage to burn a good 2 hours just walking around. First off, is the main street which is full of restaurant, souvenirs, tours agency, bus agency, a cathedral that looked like a mosque and one walking trail up a steep mountain for a viewpoint. There was also banks with atm or just atm and they work nicely with international cards so I was now relief of worry of being stranded in Bolivia with no access to money.

Cathedral at Copacabana - Bolivia
At the main square at the first glimpse of the cathedral I thought I saw a mosque. Upon closer inspection it was indeed a cathedral. Upon closer inspection I saw the cross above the dome shaped building and wonder for a moment if it was a converted building. :)

The beach (if you could call it that since this was a lake ) was worth checking out with a large crowd of people during Sunday just out for a picnic or just plain lazing about taking a duck boat out to waters or a kayak. Highest Navigable lake in the world and for a moment you might just think you are down at the seaside at the beach. Waters were azure blue being so high up near the sky and the sun burn you quickly without you even realizing due to the chill wind of high altitude.

Lake Titicaca - Copacabana

Isla Del Sur -Island of the Sun - Inca

The thing is, Bolivia is so cheap that people (Tourist) dun care if you get ripped off. That’s what I felt but is still got annoyed because it’s about the principle not the money sometime. Don’t get me wrong thou for I liked Isla del Sur for its serenity and the people’s tranquil lifestyle, while I just hate being herded as a tourist.

I got sold a day tour to Isla del Sur for 30 Boliviano which was equivalent to a night stay in a hostel, where they lady said there will be a guide that speaks English and to my dismay the guide barely speak two words of English. All explanation was done in Spanish but to my surprise I think I could just barely make out the jest content of what the guide was explaining in Spanish. I guess my vocabulary is really expending after so many tours in Spanish or my illusion is entertaining myself.
The lady also said there would be a stop at Yumani for some picture taking or sightseeing. The boat never stop …. Head back straight to Copacabana from mid island so all I saw was the north and the central of Isla del Sur and never the south. Got cheated for a tour but not a lousy tour really for it was a pretty interesting for even the north and central part but just the principle of anticipating the things that never happen makes a small part sour. For 30 Bol … about SGD 6 I guess I could live with it.

Isla del Sur is the largest Island on Lake Titicaca. The island is full of Inca ruins and the tour dropped us off at the furthest north section of the island where a local old ranger guide was waiting. He gave a great explanation of the history, culture, believes and how the people of Inca lived in the island and of the religious significant of Isla del Sur. For finer details thou I would have to google it since my Spanish was yet to be that great.

Medicine Well at Isla Del Sur
One of the interesting part of the explanation was about the medicine hall where he showed us a well not less than half a meter deep from the ground which was on a hill. Scared water as a far as I understood and everyone got a taste and a blessing from it. The well was interesting to me for it was high up on a hill with no water source, or catchment in sight and of course surrounded by a lake. I had to wonder how the ground water reached that high.
Once the first northern part explanation was done the guide bid us farewell after extracting tips from us and we set out on a hike along the old Inca trail to the central portion of the Island. 2 hours of slow hiking gradually uphill reveal a beautiful landscape with deep blue waters from Lake Titicaca as a backdrop.

I could see why people choose to live on the desolated island. It was serene.

Isla Del Sur - Lake Titicaca