Travel

Memories of Copacabana and Lake Titicaca

Martha Cabezas

Navigating around Lake Titicaca (David Knowlton)
Navigating around Lake Titicaca (David Knowlton)

I want to relate a little bit about my first trip to Copacabana, a city located between two hills on the shore of Lake Titicaca. From the Peruvian border of Yunguyo and Kasani Copacabana is a few minutes away, while from La Paz it is a few hours.

When I arrived to Copacabana I was impressed with the attractive little town and variety of painted houses. Copacabana was filled with foreign tourists from around the world and Bolivian and Peruvian pilgrims who crowded the town. They came for the festivities of the virgin of Copacabana. She is Bolivia’s patron saint.

When I started walking to the main plaza of Copacabana, I saw the impressive Basilica inside of which stands an amazing altar. It is made of gold leaf on top of wood with different designs and styles of classical and baroque style. There are also 17th and 18th century paintings and statues in the sanctuary.

Copacabana Basilica Church (David Knowlton)
Copacabana Basilica Church (David Knowlton)

Outside de Basilica a line of vehicle waits to be blessed for good luck and to prevent accidents. The blessing is like an insurance policy for them. Quantities of fresh flowers, petals, garlands, and firecrackers to be used for the blessings, line the wall of the Basilica’s courtyard and folk crafts for the blessings and souvenirs line the side of the city’s plaza.

When I walked down the main street and got closer to the lake, I was impressed with the immense water, a beautiful intense blue reflecting the hills and mirroring the sky. It is the sacred Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. Lake Titicaca is divided between Peru and Bolivia. The most beautiful site on the lake is the Peninsula of Copacabana, one of the most ancient sites of human habitation and civilization in south America. Copacabana is considered a sacred place for the villagers who live there.

When I started climbing to the top of el Cerro Calvario, I found a series of steps that led me up through the stations of the cross. The pilgrims come and climb Calvario Hill bringing stones. They place a stone on each of the altars until they reach the Hill’s top where they rest and maybe share a drink.

El Calvario, Copacabana (David Knowlton)
El Calvario, Copacabana (David Knowlton)

People come to ask favors and blessings from the Virgin of Copacabana. The pilgrims depart happy because they believe their dreams will come true, before the year ends. They return every year to renew their spiritual energy. They firmly believe that success will be with them, if they remain faithful in their beliefs.

There are great views of town and the lake Titicaca from the top of Cerro Calvario. I was able to see from the distance the Peruvian town of Puno as well as la Isla del Sol (Island of the Son) and the Isla de la Luna (Island of the Moon). It was a magnificent view that I had experienced. This was a very spiritual thing that I can’t describe. It is so beautiful to meditate and stay with the nature something that I can’t find in everyday in my life.

A View from the Cerro El Calvario (David Knwolton)
A View from the Cerro El Calvario (David Knwolton)

When I saw the lake from the top of the Cerro Calvario. I wonder about Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo. They were the first people and arose from the waters of the lake. They created the Inca Empire and were the son and daughter of the God Inti, the Sun.

When I looked to the sun above the lake to acquire inspiration and felt a breeze in my face, it was so nice. I watched the sun set in the horizon. It was beautiful view. After the experience I came down from the hill.

I saw people walking up the streets to reach the town’s main plaza. In Copacabana there are a lot of businesses, restaurants, hotels around the plaza and on the main streets going to the lake. They open their doors to the public so they can shop. They sell all kinds of handicrafts there are also small grocery stores where you can buy all kinds of goodies.

Children Ejoying the View of the Lake (David Knowlton)
Children Ejoying the View of the Lake (David Knowlton)

I enjoyed delicious fresh fish pulled out from the lake. There are all kinds of varieties of fishes such as trout, pejerrey, Karachi, ispi, and boguitas. They are served in the restaurants, market, or street vendors around the lake.

This interesting town is visited a lot of anthropologists, sociologists, and archeologists to study religion, culture, archeology, and much more. Thank you for reading this narration of my experience in Copacabana. I invite you to visit. There are a lot of things that you can see and enjoy. You should especially not miss seeing the blue water of the sacred lake Titicaca and its beautiful town, Copacabana.

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