Fairytale houses in Copacabana, Bolivia

We lucked out and got a reservation at Las Olas, a delightful cluster of fairytale houses on the hillside overlooking Lake Titicaca. I thought Elise’s first choice would be the Sea Tower, which is fit for a princess.

But it was love at first sight when she saw the Shell House! It had three levels – a kitchen, a guest room and bath, and master bedroom on the top floor with round beds and windows, and a ceiling that spiraled up to a point. For $49/night, it was an incredibly inexpensive way to live a little magic.

We had our own garden with hammocks, views of the bay, and even a fireplace (though we didn’t light it because it can worsen altitude sickness). You could even order room service from the restaurant if you wanted – including cheese and chocolate fondue.

The icing on the cake was that there were llamas in the garden and the staff gave Elise bags of food for them!

In the evening, we tried the fresh trout at the waterfront market ($4!). The lakeshore was pretty at sundown, though the swan boats looked a little eerie in the falling light.

The donkeys of Isla del Sol

When we arrived in Copacabana (no, not the famous one), the place we wanted to stay was fully booked, so we bopped over to Isla del Sol, a 70-sq-km island with no vehicles on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca, to spend the night. I’d planned to do a walking tour of the ruins and little villages up and over the steep hills, but altitude sickness made breathing difficult and I even felt irregular heartbeats when climbing the steep stairs, so that was out. 🙁

As soon as we stepped off the ferry, Elise spotted a drove of donkeys and immediately went over to them to pet them. Soon afterwards, she saw a train of them carrying heavy sacks up a very steep set of stone steps and became distraught that they were in pain. I reassured her that donkeys are able to carry heavy loads. Still, she looked over each one carefully and pet them whenever she could. They seemed to enjoy her affection.

The next morning she woke up fantastically happy because we were heading back to Copacabana where a very cool and unusual suite was awaiting us (more on that in my next post).

From the terrace where we had breakfast, Elise spotted a few donkeys tied to posts or rocks below.

One broke free, but instead of bolting off, he sniffed around for food near a fellow donkey and then rolled around in the sand to scratch his back, and then just stayed put. We considered what that meant. Was he actually content with his donkey life, in spite of having to lug heavy loads up the hill? Or did he not understand that escape was even a possibility? Whatever the case, Elise took one last opportunity to bring them a little joy by giving them a snack before we boarded the ferry back to Copacabana.