Monday 25 May

I wake just before sunrise and venture out onto the flat roof equipped with sleeping bag, sweater, and camera to watch the sun come up. It is a glorious spectacle, as at first a lining of yellow appears around Mount Illampu, and then fire seems to burst from the side of the mountain far across the lake.





Afterwards, I return to the relative warmth of the room. We make a late start. Breakfast, maligned in the guestbook as a waste of time, turns out to consist of rather good pancakes and coffee.

The owner had yesterday explained something at great length to me in Spanish, involving, as far as I could make out, a critical time of 10.30 am. We had been wondering if he had been referring to boat times back to the mainland, but just as we are leaving it is Jay who finally has a stroke of inspiration—he was simply telling us that the room had to be cleared by 10.30 am if we were not spending a second night there. So that is all right.



We walk around the north-east side of the island, getting hopelessly lost on some terracing. Finally, we spy the path we should have been on, but it is not an easy task to pick our way down to it. Rather foolishly, we have set off this morning without provisions, aiming to buy lunch at a small restaurant at Challa, half way around the island. But on arrival we find that the owner is out of everything except Coca Cola. Some small consolation is provided as Jay produces a few left-over cream crackers and two oranges. The walk back is a little more scenic. We take a more southerly path across the top of the island that allows us to see down into the bays on the other side. Apart from a few springs, the ground is very dry and scrubby, but the views across the lake are more inspiring.

On returning to the mainland, we check into the Hotel Copacabana. The hotel is almost deserted and we procur a large room that resembles a stark hospital ward with its metal-framed beds. However, the austerity of the room is made up for by the extravagance of the bathroom, a cavernous tiled room containing with ease three shower cubicles and two toilets, one next to the other!

Copacabana seems to be almost lifeless. It is not much of a place anyway, but a fair few streetlights are out of order and the streets are dark and deserted. After dinner, which we pay for partly in dollars and partly in bolivianos to use up our spare currency before returning to Peru, we investigate the hotel’s games room. James proves to be a demon at pool and table tennis, but after a shakey start I trounce Jay at table football.