Saturday, October 21, 2006

First taste of Boliva

Originally uploaded by Henrik & Barbara.
It was with great anticipation we went to Bolivia, where our first stop was Copacabana (the original Copacabana...) at Lake Titicaca.
Copacabana is not the “real” Bolivia. It is a city which is clearly affected by the thousands of Bolivian and international tourists who come here on their way to or from Peru to experience the beauty of Lake Titicaca and Isla del Sol or to worship the holy saint Virgin of Copacabana.

We spent two quiet days in Copacabana, where we witnessed the religious significance of the city for the Bolivians, we tried the best trout lasagna in South America and of cause we visited Isla del Sol – the place where the sun is said to be born.

Copacabana has been important since the Incas and are still regarded as the religious centre of Bolivia. The most spectacular prove, is the blessing of cars. They actually decorate cars and trucks in flowers as part of a blessing ceremony which will make sure the vehicles have a safe journey. This takes place in front of the colonial church in Copacabana, which is very impressive and quite different from the other colonial churches we have seen so far with lots of colorful tiles. It demonstrates the great influence of religion in the city and this is where the Virgin of Copacabana is guarded.

The subject food brings us to maybe the best lasagna (trout lasagna) we have ever tried – even compared to classical meat filled lasagnas. The trout and king fish are the two most common fish in Lake Titicaca, and the trout is the specialty of the city which they showed us convincingly in the various forms we tried the fish; in lasagna, with garlic and with lime.

An hour by boat from the shore of Copacabana beach you find Isla del Sol, the place where, according to the Incas, the sun, moon and stars were commanded to rise by the Inca God Viracocha who rose from Lake Titicaca himself. Of cause we had to see the place with our own eyes and spent a whole day there exploring the magnificence of this place. The landscape on and around the island is stunning.
With the fresh air, the blue lake, the snow capped mountains, the terraces and the ruins we were easily convinced that this place must have been extremely important for the Andean cultures in the past and that it will stay important long into the future.
Standing in front of the rock where the sun was born gave us a moment to imagine life there when the Incas ruled. Sacrifices of food, animals and even humans was made to the sun and only selected people could get close to this gigantic holy rock. Thousands of people worshipped the sacred rock.


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