An hour after the bribing incident, we pulled up to Copacabana, a tiny town on the shores of Lake Titicaca that happens to be the namesake for the famous beach in Rio de Janeiro. I got off the bus and was surrounded by tiny travel shops selling tours to Isla del Sol and the Peruvian side of the lake. Cafés and touristy restaurants filled the empty spots between the travel shops. Women tended small souvenir stands that dotted the street, while a few street musicians strummed guitars or beat steel drums to make some small change.
A woman from the travel agency I had booked my tour with greeted me as I looked around. She was with her seven year old son. We walked a few blocks away from the “bus terminal” and headed straight for the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Copacabana.
This beautiful church is one of the most important shrines for Catholics. It was built between 1668 and 1805. The inside contains a statue of the Virgin Mary by Francisco Tito Yupanqui, a descendent of Inca ruler Huayna Capac. Because the statue was believe to perform miracles, a massive shrine was built. A statue of Yupanqui sits outside the entrance to the church.
We took a quick walk around the Plaza 2 de Febrero just in front of the church, then walked past Plaza Sucre before sitting down to a nice lunch of Lake Titicaca trout and quinoa soup.
After lunch, I was met by another tour guide, Pedro, who was to take me to Isla del Sol. We walked to the docks and waited in a long line for the boat to leave. A bunch of men were struggling to pull a boat onto shore so Pedro and I grabbed ahold of the rope to help them.