Copacabana, where we agree that school’s not cool

Copacabana is a beautiful little town on the shores of Lago Titicaca. Arriving here from Puno’s noisy, confusing streets is an absolute bliss.

As soon as we’ve said goodbye to our travel companions from New Zealand, Jessie and Luke, we are picked up by a taxi driver who has his daughter sitting next to him in the front seat. It’ll cost us 10 bolivianos for him to take us to our hotel, hotel Ukumi. When we get there I realise we could’ve easily walked and maybe 10 bolivianos is a bit much. But in this case I am just happy that we got there painlessly. A doesn’t enjoy walking with her backpack and she walks painfully slow, so that my backpack feels like it weighs a ton after only a few minuts.

It is different travelling with a child than travelling on your own or with other adults. Things are slower, things take longer, things are more complicated. You don’t get to follow your own whims all the time. It is of course like any other part of life when you have children. Things are just not the way you may have thought they would be. EVERYTHING changes.

Travelling with a child is also magic, wonder, surprise, love, happy memories, tears, frustration, dissatisfaction with yourself, anxiety, joy, excitement and so many other things. Seeing the world through A’s eyes is for me a gift that noone else could have given me.

No matter how wonderful Copacabana is we can’t stay long. It is too expensive for our budget. Two nights cost me more than 50 USD. But our room is so NICE. Two big beds, a heater, no traffick noise, a view of the beach and a mountain, wi-fi that mostly works if you’re persistent, friendly staff, and lovely hot showers.

Breakfast is included, it isn’t vegan, but I enjoy it anyway, skipping the ham of course. Yuck! There is free coca tea and bananas in the lobby and right outside our door we have two whole mountains to climb. Of course we undertake the task of climbing both mountains. The reward is a breathtaking view of the lake and the little, beautiful town.

In our hotel we meet a young, beautiful, chinese woman, Chu Lin, who also went on the tour to Taquile in Puno. We talk to her at breakfast one morning. She is so amazed by the fact that we homeschool/unschool and by our travel endeavors that her eyes glow when she says: “I hope I can do the same thing when I have children”. She hated school. “It was aplace where you had to sit still and you didn’t get to have your own opinion”, she says. I silently agree. I suppose school is different everywhere, and Chinese and Danish schools are quite probably very different. But not getting to have your own opinion is true of both kinds of schools. It is true of all schools, in fact.

When Chu Lin gets up to leave she says: “You two are like friends, travelling together”. We all smile and wave goodbye.

Copacabana is lovely. But Copacabana knows it, so Copacabana is expensive. We can’t cook at our hotel, so we go out to eat. I easily find vegan options there and A enjoys her ham sandwhiches.

We talk to Chu Lin’s friend at our hotel. He teaches A Chinese kung fu – a very useful skill I think. He gives A a little porcelain mask from the Beijing opera. It is for luck, he explains. He is a travel writer who quit his job as a journalist two years ago and now travels the world and writes about it. I ask him about Isla del Sol, the birthplace of the sun, which is an island you can visit from Copacabana. He says it is okay but nothing special and I decide against going. We’d rather spend our time meandering around town, climbing mountains, and going for little rides in the cycle-swan-boats. It costs 15 bolivianos for half an hour. Not really good for my budget. But A loves it so much I can’t deny her the pleasure. She steers and she tells me to lean back and enjoy the ride. So I do.

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Our time in Copacabana is short but wonderful.

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