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Island of the Sun
by Robin Esrock
Two and half years later, I retrace my footsteps on the Island of the Sun. Not much has changed. The same little girl is playing on the sacred rock by the Sun Temple. The same man is rowing tourists to the south, weathered lines on his face barely betraying his immense physical effort. The most beautiful sunset in the world can still be found by hiking the Calvario, the hill that overlooks Copacabana.
We're back on the Island of the Sun, staring out over the water at a vista inspired by the gods. The quality of light at 3800m is immaculate, reflecting off the famously blue waters of Lake Titicaca. In the distance, the Royal Mountain range is painted white with snow, floating well over 6000m like a threatening cloud. It is a tundra on the south side of the island, the vegetation barely reaching knee-high. The ruins of a temple that once housed priestesses still remain, a labyrinth of sunken rock. An old man walks past, his two donkeys loaded with wood, a few sheep padding timidly at his heels.
Corporations would have to spend a lot of money to duplicate the authenticity of this old world, this theme park of the way things were, are, and probably always will be. "I'm surprised there isn't a hotel right here," says my travel partner Zach, "Thank God there isn't a hotel right here," I reply, and we head off along the old Incan path, passing pigs, villagers and donkeys, to the rustic village below.