The boat for Isla del Sol left at 9:00 A.M., so we woke up sometime between 7:30 and 8:00, leaving enough time for a shower and breakfast. Emelie hadn't slept well as she was feeling ill. She opted not to go on the trip, so Elin and I set out together.
The boat ride took about two-and-a-half hours and was beautiful but cold, at least for those of us on the top deck, out in the elements. There are some ruins on Isla del Sol and a beautiful hike around the island, leading to the ruins and then much farther south to where the boat would pick us up later in the day for the trip back to Copacabana.
Lake Titicaca is located on the border of Bolivia and Peru and is just over 3,800 meters high. It's the highest commercially navigable lake in the world and the largest lake in South America. It's about 120 miles long by 50 miles wide and is almost 300 meters deep.
There are many ruins on the island, but we went to a good sized site on the northern end of the island. Near the ruins, we came across a huge rock slab with a local man describing traditional ceremonies and selling trinkets. I asked if it had been used for sacrificing virgins and suggested we sacrifice Elin. Apparently, that wouldn't be possible. She bought a little statue which is supposed to help heal sickness. The man did some chanting and waved his hands over the statue. The idea was that it would help make Emelie better. We believe his ritual sucked the sickness out of Emelie—she was feeling better when we got back—and transferred it to the person standing closest to him during the ritual—me. I got sicker and sicker over the course of the day. The ruins were nice. The usual. A bunch of rocks piled up with a great view over the lake. These people really knew where to build their ruins.
I didn't know how Emelie was doing at that moment, but I knew that I had diarrhea. I had gone to the bathroom when we arrived on the island, but diarrhea works fast. I hiked fast—and alone, at this point—in hopes of getting back to civilization before—well, you know. I was able to keep this up for quite some time, but every so often, the pressure in my bowels increased and was stronger than before. Then it would subside. I knew I couldn't keep this up much longer. I hoped the town where we were to meet the boat was just over the next rise. It wasn't.
I came to a small group of houses where some locals lived. I asked if there was a bathroom here and said I would pay to use it. I was told there was no bathroom here. Apparently, the people who live on Isla del Sol are magical people. They don't crap. I was at the end of my rope. I walked about 30 meters farther, to a brick wall that seemed to mark the boundary of the small town. Next to the wall was some trash, including what looked like toilet paper. Good enough. Between the wall and the paper, I had myself a bathroom. I made it by the skin on my teeth.
As I got closer to my destination, some civilization appeared. Apparently, the locals think that the tourist will be tired and hungry by this time. In the town through which the dirt trail wound were scattered myriad restaurants. I plowed ahead and looked for sings of a real bathroom. A bit farther on, I saw a nice looking hostel. There were two women squatting next to the building washing laundry and hanging the dripping clothes on a wooden fence. I asked if they owned the place and if I could pay them to use the bathroom. One Boliviano was all it took. Now, I just had to make it a couple hours back to the mainland.
The boat pushed back and set out across the great expanse of water that is Lake Titicaca. I felt like I had a grip on the diarrhea, but not long after we left shore, the stomach cramps began. I didn't mean to ignore the nice lady I had met from Oregon, but I felt really lousy. I was on the top deck and felt pretty sure I was going to hurl. I got up without notice and climbed face first down the steep stairs to the back of the boat where the pilot was steering, one foot on the outboard motor closer to him, the other motor lashed with a length of rope.
I told him I didn't feel good and began to lean over the side of the boat near where he was sitting listening to his transistor radio. He directed me to the stern. I made it and leaned over the edge. For the time being, I kept my stomach contents in place and began to feel better over the duration of the trip.
When Elin and I arrived back to the room, we learned Emelie had been vomiting all day. She felt better now and the three of us went out for dinner.
My diarrhea continued. A couple days later, on the way to Machu Picchu, I vomited. Thank Pete I had taken a taxi (along with some nice folks from Spain). If I had gone in the bus, it would not have been a pretty sight. I vomited again after arriving at Aguas Calientes, the town from which you take a bus up to the actual ruins.
After I got back to Cusco from the ruins, I learned Emelie had gone to the hospital. She had been informed that she had three kinds of salmonella and a parasite.
I felt moderately sick for a few days after I vomited, but now, about a week later, I feel pretty good. I think my body took care of the bugs all by itself.