Published: December 12th 2011December 10th 2011
Before we went out to explore Lake Titicaca we had one night in Puno which sits on the Peruvian shore of Lake Titicaca. Its a very small town that most travellers just use as a port for the lake.
Lake Titicaca is famous because it is the highest lake in the world situated at 3811m above sea level. It is also the biggest lake in South America and is split between Peru and Bolivia.
After our wake up call we jumped into our 'Limo´s' to be taken down to the port. This journey ended up being a bit of a race for which our drivers were then breathless from - see the picture.
Our first destination once on board was Taquile Island. Here the native´s speak Quechua and the Island is famous for its weaving. It has a population of about 2000 people which is quickly decreasing due to the younger popluation moving to the mainland in seek of education. We had a short trek around the Island before seeing some of the woven product they make and having some well needed lunch.
It was then back on the boat to head to the Luguina community
which sits on one of the pennisula's of Lake Titicaca. Here we met with our new families who we would be staying with for 12hrs overnight in pairs. After our brief introductions in Aymara we were challeneged to a game of football by the local boys. Playing football at 4000m is no easy feet, after only a couple of minutes we were all bent forward trying to catch our breath whilst they were all laughing at us, it was ridiculous!! Unfortunately the game was cut short though as our goal keeper dislocated his finger and had to be put back on a boat and taken to a hospital in Puno!
It was then time to sample some local tradition......dressing up in traditional clothes and learning a traditional dance! Needless to say some of the boys in the group were less keen on this acitivity than the girls but i think by the end of it everyone had a great time and burnt lots of calories! Especially the girls as the outfit consisted of 5 skirts worn over each other which ended up weighing quite a lot!! After this ended we were then led away to our seperate houses where
we would not see the rest of the group until noon the following day.
The house we were staying in consisted of 4 different mud brick buildings. One was the kitchen/dinning room, another the family lounge/bedroom, the thrid a workshop for the farm/fishing equipment and then the fourth as the guest lodge. It was shocking to see the difference between the three family buildings and then where we were staying. Inside it was huge with big single beds with mattress's and our own ensuite with a power shower. Glass windows and wooden doors that actually fitted and locked. In contrast there was nothing in the windows of the family buildings and only corregated metal sheets that half shut as doors. Me and Erin my roomate felt so spoilt and sad. How could they let us stay like this when they (two parents and 6 kids from 9months to 15) stayed in one bed in one room?!!!? Culture shock had hit us both, things seemed so cruel and unfair.
The families get paid for taking in tourists but it seemed to us that this money went back into the tourist accomodation and not to the family who actually needed
it?? We had been told to take food and toys along to the families as an extra token, but these gifts no longer felt worthy enough.
Nevertheless we went into the kitchen to help with dinner. We soon realised it was going to be a carb fest. Potato soup followed by rice, pasta and potato altogether. However it was very tasty and much appreciated. After doing all the washing up and with the limited Spanish and Amymara we had, we said our good nights and wrapped up warm for bed. An excellent nights sleep was had.
We were then woken about 6.30 to help make breakfast. We broke off small bits of homemade bread dough and patted them into flat oval shapes. We then fried them in oil for a minute or so on each side before removing to cool down. We must have made well over 50! But between us and the family, these were soon polished off over the breakfast table along with a boiled egg each. It was then time for us to help out with the daily activities.
Just outside the house we were presented with a small enclosure with 7
sheep in. Our task was to tie a rope round a front leg of each of the sheep. Very nervously me and Erin enter then pen to try and complete this task. Surprisingly enough without any girlie screams we succeeded in what we thought was a very efficient time. It was then time to walk our sheep down to a field 10minutes away for them to graze. Once at the field we had to put stakes in the ground and tie the sheep to these stakes so that they would not run away!
We then went down to the water front to prepare a boat to take these sheep to Uros Island to trade for things such as fish and reeds. Before getting the boat ready though we were treated to a small ride out onto the lake which was lovely. Then came the chaos of getting the sheep plus 5 people onto the boat…at this point me and Erin stood back and let the experts take over!
It then wasn’t long before lunch was to be served so we have a short play with the children with some bouncy balls before eating and
then saying our farewells. An eye opening experience that will always stay with me.
Back with the group we were to visit the Uros Islands before heading back to Puno. The Uros Islands are alternatively known as the floating Islands. The are made from reeds found growing in the shallows of Lake Titicaca. Currently there are about 44 floating Islands which sole purpose these days is tourism. When hopping off the boat onto one of these Islands it was a strange sensation…..very spongy underfoot. We got to see inside some of the houses of families who live there but again, like on Taquile Island the population is now dwindling as many of the younger people move to the mainland.
It was then time to leave the lake and Peru as the next day we were crossing the border to Bolivia and heading to La Paz.
There are more photos below