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Published: December 7th 2010
Sat 20 to Sun 21 Nov – Lake Titicaca, Peru
Yet another early start; a 06:30 alarm ..zzz .. for a 2 day tour with an overnight homestay with a local family on Amantani island.
We didn't feel too bad in the morning … maybe we're getting used to this high altitude lark. We're at 3,811 m (12,500 ft) above sea level now. Lake Titicaca is "the highest commercially navigable lake in the world". The lake is huge .. you would think it was an ocean! Uros Floating Islands
Our first stop was Uros - islands on floating reed beds. We were given a rundown of the history, how the families lived, and we got to taste reeds (not as bad as you'd think, actually). We were shown into their huts .. and Bernie was dressed up in the local garb (not a good look ..and, no, the photo is not uploaded) and made to pose with a wife and child. It was interesting but touristy. We were told later by our guide that the islands have been moved nearer to Puno to make them more accessible to tourists!
We were taken in a reed boat
to the main floating island. The reed boat was made of thousands of coke bottles covered in reeds which kept it afloat (and lasted for a couple of years) ... hmmm .. not quite what we imagined when we first saw it.
When we left the island the local women sang "row, row, row your boat" in 3 languages . hmmm. We felt it was demeaning for them, but to be honest they seemed to take it in their stride (obviously a regular occurrence). Tourists are taken to the islands in rotation, so each island gets to put on their own show!
We went back on board the boat for our 3 hour journey to Amantani Island. Amantani
Once we landed on Amantani, we were introduced to "Emilio" whose family we would stay with and taken to the house to dump our bags and have lunch. Each house sits within a plot of land with hand built stone walls surrounding it. There were chickens roaming, sheep and a donkey in the field outside. The front door opened into a fair sized courtyard but for lunch we were led into a little room off the courtyard, with
mud walls and mud floor (but spotless clean). There was an outside toilet with a bucket of water for flushing (basically a tin hut but, again, spotlessly clean)
After lunch we hiked up Llacastiti mountain (4130m), but very slowly (can't do much else at this altitude .. it's hard work going uphill). We passed women who are constantly spinning yarn for knitting (with something that looks like a spinning top), all in traditional local dress, chatting or walking (effortlessly) uphill.
We were relieved to get to the top of the mountain and, as a bonus, there was a 'cafe' with a woman cooking local donuts, called Picarones, at an open fire. They were delicious!
We watched the sunset which was beautiful .. the sky full of yellow, pink and red hues. You're up so high, the clouds just seem to sit on the horizon.
It was getting pretty dark by the time we started our descent and we passed houses and small shops lit by candellight .. electricity is a luxury here.
Emilio met us at the village square and we went back for dinner. We came to realise that our only real contact with
the family was Emilio. We'd seen his wife and son but fleetingly ... Emilio was the one who cooked all our meals. His wife may have been shy, or maybe didn't want us there, but we think it may have been different if we could have spoken the language.
After dinner was the Fiesta! It was pretty cold so we wrapped up with fleeces and coats but as soon as we got downstairs from our room Emilio appeared with traditional clothes for us to wear. Heavy poncho for Ken and a skirt, sash, blouse and waistcoat for Bernie which were put on top of our fleeces. We walked to a community centre which had one bare bulb for light and danced with the locals to a live band. The songs seemed to go on forever and we were BOILING!!! Didn't stay too long!
Emilio made us pancakes for breakfast the next day and we said goodbye. This wasn't as touristy as the floating islands and it was obvious these people have a pretty hard life .. but the island was so tranquil and quite pretty and they all seemed content.
We boarded the boat for the trip
to Taquile island. Taquile
We were dropped at one end of the island for an hour's slow walk to the main square at the centre of the island. The island itself was pretty .. the main square was disappointing and quite ugly.
We had lunch of locally caught trout, high on a hill with a great view.
Unlike Uros, the floating islands, the locals really do still wear the traditional clothes all the time. The men wear different coloured hats depending on whether they are married or single and wear them differently if single and looking for a partner. Surprisingly, it's the men that knit on this island and are only considered worthy of marriage when they can knit a decent hat!
Boat back to Puno and the Mosoq Inn.
As we were off to Bolivia tomorrow we tried to use all our Peruvian Soles that evening. We kept just 6 soles for the taxi ride to the bus station the next morning. Then, when we checked out of the hotel, the receptionist told us that we needed 1 sole each departure tax! Panic struck, until luckily she also told us that the taxi
would only cost 4 soles ... we were cutting it fine though!
We loved Peru but are excited to be moving on to a new country … :o)
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