Just updating everyone from the internet cafe in Copacabana, Bolivia. I found my passport in the front pocket of my backpack. Yippee!! I was so happy that I gave my new buddy, Andres from Equador, a huge hug this morning. What a relief that is! It will lessen the hassle at the police department and I won’t have to go to the Canadian embassy in La Paz now. It seems that you need a passport for any kind of traveling you want to do in South American countries even if it’s just taking a three hour bus ride.
My plan today is to intercept people as they come off the boats incase whoever picked up my bag may have spent the night on the Isla del Sol. I’m also hoping that whoever picked it up has good intentions to hand it in to the police.
Yesterday, Andres and I, intercepted boats as they floated in to the docks. It wasn’t an entirely successful plan since some boats were coming in at the same time. We separated to try and deal with the multitudes of people arriving, but not everyone paid any attention to us. We did what we could. I had to try and I have to try again today before I leave this place just for my own peace of mind.
Believe me, I want the heck out of here. Lake Titicaca has been bad luck and bad karma for me. I’m looking forward to a new start in a town outside of La Paz where I will be staying with a friend of a friend who runs a hotel and who also runs a foundation called CHOICE. Lucky for me, I get to stay there for free in exchange for some volunteering. I have no idea what the foundation does, but I will find out when I get to La Paz tomorrow.
I also want to put a kind word in my blog for Andres. He is someone I met on the bus from Puno to Copacabana two days ago. He sat in the seat next to me and we struck up conversation right away. He was so easy to talk to that we talked non-stop for about two hours. We had gone to the Isla del Sol together yesterday and during my ordeal he stuck by me the entire time.
We began our day on the north side of the Isla del Sol. It was gorgeous. The water reminded me more of the Caribbean ocean rather than a giant lake. The colour of the water in the white sandy bay was so clear and turqouis. We walked the trail overlooking the lake and stopped to take a group photo of four of us. I placed my bag on a rock and balanced my camera on it and then put it on self-timer. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to retrieve my bag after checking the photo.
I was carrying too much already, including my backpack, a bag of food and a big bottle of water. Because I had so much to carry, it didn’t feel like I was missing anything, so I kept going for quite a while until we began getting hungry and started talking about lunch. It was then I realized my bag with my money and my electronics was not there.
At that point I turned and ran back as fast as I could. I dropped my pack on the trail so I could run faster. The bag wasn’t where I left it, so I continued on towards a small snack stand I remembered. A group of travelers stopped me on the trail and tried to console me and give me water, but I began hyperventalating and fell to the ground sobbing. Andres came running up from behind, passed us and carried on running up the trail to get to the stand faster. He came jogging back, but with no bag. No luck.
We walked back to where the others were waiting with my back pack, but I couldn’t walk with them. I needed to keep going and get to the little village fast in hopes there was a tourism office there. People stopped what they were doing to stare at the sobbing gringa who was half-walking and half-running along the beach-front trail. Some Bolivian residents tried to stop me to find out what was wrong. Upon reaching the waterfront where the boats were leaving the north island, I realized there was no tourism office. I was beside myself.
At that point I felt helpless and hopeless. I sobbed and people stared. People tried to help. I kicked my backpack and threw my sleeping bag. I didn’t want any of it. I wanted to thow it all away. The most important things to me were my electronics, my blogging tools, and now they were gone.
Andres continued to stick by me. He comforted me and told me we need to go to the south island to see if there was a tourism office there. He thought there might be a bag check. Apparently there is a check point where officials check bags to make sure nobody is taking any artifacts from the island. Andres made sure I was comfortable on the boat and he sat with me, consoled me and held me when I needed it. When we found out there was nothing on the south island either, we made our way back to Copacabana where we spent the rest of the afternoon intercepting boats.
I can’t say enough about him. He is a wonderful person to have sacrificed his day on the Isla del Sol for me. Yesterday, even though it was the most stressful and horrible day of my journey so far, I got to see the beauty in people such as Andres and for that I am forever grateful. It inspires me to be a better person.