leticia hughes

travel blog & photography



Posted by Leticia Hughes on March 27, 2010 at 10:15 PM


The small town of Copacabana, which islocated on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca, has made it into my “favourite places” list!!!  The town itself is basic (just the way we like it), the locals don’t pay you much attention (perfect) and if life got any slower there it would stand still.  While in the area we took a very slow boat to Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) and I didn’t think it was possible, but it is even more laid back than Copacabana and the surrounding landscape of blue lakes, local farms, eucalyptus trees and Inca ruins was just breathtaking.  The locals in these areas have it right, as life for them is not about the big house, car and job but pure survival.  They have modest accommodation in a spectacular water setting, they live off the land and they trade their produce with each other.  So many of us in the Western world are obsessed with money that we forget to step back and appreciate what we have and the endless opportunities that present themselves.  Lets just say Copacabana was a great place to reflect and smell the roses.


Despite all the rose smelling, there was one instance in Copacabana that was not so relaxing…   While out for a walk one afternoon we decided to take a back road to the beach.  We strolled past a local school and started towards some farm land.  Part way down the road, we heard the horrendous growl of a very large dog that was not happy to see us.  The very unhappy dog turned into a very vicious dog and it raced towards us hackles up and bearing teeth.  Nearly cacking my pants I was ready to jump up on top of a narrow wall, Marc on the other hand took no shit from this pooch.  He formed a fist, crouched down low and yelled mother f**cker in the loudest voice I have ever heard.  The dog stopped dead in it’s tracks and fled up the road with its tail between its legs.  I could not believe my eyes as I thought for certain we were dog tucker!!!  Despite the man-eaters retreat, I convinced Marc to turn around and walk back the way we came.  When we scampered past the school again, the kids were standing up in class and cracking up – they had heard all the commotion and thought it was hilarious that the stupid gringos (tourists) stuck it to the dog!!!


After Copacabana we crossed the boarder by land into Peru.  After a visit to Puno and a floating island, which was so surreal, we boarded the bus for Cusco.  Now we decided to splurge on first class tickets for this bus trip as it was our last and we wanted it to be memorable, for the right reasons.  Unfortunately we ended up with a driver who thought he was on a bloody race track and I was certain we were going to hit something or someone.  In summary, the idiot passed other buses on blind corners, he exceeded the speed limit by over 50kph in towns where kids were walking home from school and he had not yet discovered braking on the straight rather than in the corner.  What made it worse was we saw a horrific bus accident where a cow, bus and truck had collided.  The drivers were for sure dead and many passengers very hurt.  I would have thought that seeing this tragedy the driver would have slowed down a little but because these accidents are so common, bus drivers are completely blasé.  Needless to say, I was very grateful when we eventually rolled into Cusco and I am even more grateful that we only have flights for the rest of our South American adventure.


Now one of the things that is really bugging me about South America is the religion (if you are a Catholic you may want to miss this paragraph as it may get a little controversial).  We have now visited a number of very historical towns and smack bang in the middle of each one is a Catholic church.  It makes me furious to think that the Spanish basically invaded South America and forced Catholicism on all native people by threatening and frightening them with stories of hell.  Some of the churches are spectacular and it is no wonder the aboriginals were overwhelmed by the grand display of wealth and power.  In one town we visited, the Spanish actually built a Catholic church on Inca ruins!!!  They had complete disregard for local beliefs and for me the Spanish and Catholicism just doesn’t fit South America.  In some of these churches I sit there wondering what South America would have been like had it not been invaded…  would it be more like Japan and India where their beliefs and culture are still so strong?  However if the Spanish had not invaded South America another first world country would have done the same.  It makes me embarrassed to be a Westerner when I think about all the invasions our fore fathers were probably part of and how we forced our beliefs onto people – it makes me even more skeptical about religion.  But the Inca’s of South America were not without fault either as they also tried to force their beliefs onto other aboriginals.  The common theme here is that from day one, man has been obsessed with money and land – will we ever get it right?


The other thing I have really struggledwith in South America is speaking Spanish.  While I have picked up some basics and can generally understand simple conversations that Marc initiates with locals, it breaks my heart that I cannot fully converse with them.  I would love to know more about their culture, history and why they do the things they do.  But with my feeble Spanish all I can do really is observe and take photos to try and tell the story I am experiencing.  I do feel rather inspired now to go and learn Spanish as so many people in this world speak it.  I think taking a decent Spanish class for 1 year has been added to my “gotta do before I am 40 list”!!!


So we are now in Cusco – the mega gringos trail but if you wanna see Muchu Picchu this is where you come.  We have booked on the Lares trek and all going to plan, Muchu Picchu will re-open on our last day so fingers crossed we get to view this famous Inca site.  The Lares Trek has cost us far too much money, so I hope it lives up to my expectations!!!


After Peru we are heading to Galapagos and man oh man I am looking forward to this – 8 nights on a 72ft luxury cat – ding ding baby!!!!  We are also visiting the jungle at Coco where we will camp in the Amazon.  Yes I am completely insane and I am already having panic attacks about the bloody tarantulas!!!


And of course in just over one month we get married – heck where has the time gone.  I have ordered the wedding dress so now all I need to do is show up in Ft Lauderdale and get some “maintenance” done at the local spa!!!


That is all for now. I will of course let you know how the trekking goes.  Please let there be no juveniles!!!


PS:  Marc and I have eaten the scenery and I have come to the conclusion that llama tastes better than alpacaca!!!  :D

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Reply tania@mudbricklodge.co.nz
3:37 AM on March 28, 2010 
I can't believe you ate the cute fluffy things!! I saw all those floating islands on TV - can't believe you went there - so amazing. the people look gorgeous.. Love You xx
Reply Jace & Shar
6:13 AM on April 8, 2010 
Fantastic blog entries as always - makes us crave to travel to South America!! Keep up the good work and enjoy Galapagos. Safe travels you two and here's to the wedding countdown. The 20 somethings vs 30 somethings was hilarious - poor geek...