4 - 8 September 2003

Copacabana is on the shores of Lake Titicaca and at 3,800metres high it is enough to separate Peru from Bolivia.

Renowned for its miracles, we were hoping Claire might start smiling before 9 in the morning and stop experiencing 'abdominal cramps' every 4 weeks.

Our first surprise came on the way from La Paz when we had to leave our bus and get on a boat during our journey. Leaving a bus when your bags are strapped to the roof in Bolivia is uncomfortable at the best of times as you might never see them again.

Seeing the bus then drive onto a wooden barge and get polled across a lake, is a good introduction to the ways of lake living.

Due to popular demand you can now have your car blessed 16 times a week in Copacabana. Copacabana is the Patron saint of Bolivia and home to numerous miracles

Now for a mere 20 Bolivians (2 pounds) people drive from all over Bolivia to have their cars blessed. The process involves;

- decorating car / truck with coloured paper, virgin statues etc., and other assorted pollution.

- Drinking heavily

- Spraying bubbly and holy water all over car

- Drinking heavily

- Priest blesses car

- Driver drinks more heavily

- Car is then driven around town by inebriated driver who honks, swerves and throws fire-crackers at pedestrians.

More Inca stuff includes this astral calendar. Apparently the Incas used this to tell when the soltices were.

It made a nice walk anyway!

Copacabana is the holiday destination of choice for middle class Bolivians.

Picture Brighton with people 6 inches shorter and much darker, and a narrower beach with sand instead of pebbles and you have it.

Fish and chips replaced with trout and chips, and the piers replaced with photogenic llamas (which like Claire) and you guessed it ....

... Paddle boats.

What could possibly be more fun than wasting time in a decrepit old paddle boat.....

..... Truck riding.

The Bolivian pastime of the working class. Jamming as many people on a truck and driving fast and drunk (if you've just had your truck blessed).

Another popular tourist activity is ordering hot chocolate, sending it back when it is cold, sending it back again knowing that the chances of some waiter originating bodily fluid will be added to it before finally leaving in disgust and refusing to pay!

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