Monday, September 1, 2008

Copacabana

Sunday 3rd August

Copacabana is in festive spirit! Rarely, it's a sacred place for 2 tribes, namely Catholics and the indigenous Aymara Indians. Indeed the name Copacabana is based on the Aymara words for "Lake View" - kota kahuana. One of the town's main draws - the Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana is built on the site of an ancient Aymara temple... and Our Lady of Copacabana is the patron saint of Bolivia. So you can see it's got some major religious stuff going for it.

The Basilica...



Coupled with that, August 6th is Bolivia's Independence day celebration, so this whole week is a giant excuse to combine some serious partying with a major religious festival. I am forced to drink....

It's also a beautiful spot, built right on the lake shore and nestled between 2 hills - Mount Niño Calvario and Mount Calvario, a short climb affords great views of the town and lake...



People travel from all over Bolivia and across the border from neighboring Peru to decorate vehicles and have them blessed on the (lake) beach or in the main plaza for safety and good luck. Much needed on Bolivian roads!



The larger Mount Calvario is the destination for religious pilgrimage and a steep climb passes the 12 stages of the cross and the seven sorrows of Mary. During festival people bring miniatures of their desires, such as a car or house to be blessed on the hill top, in the hope they will be realised in the coming year.



Beneath the Basilica, there is a dark soot filled room where effigies in wax are described on the walls for similar reasons...





The sun sets amid much drinking and dancing....