Sunday, September 5, 2010

Lake Titicaca

Our bus arrived in Puno (the main city on Lake Titikaka at about 5 in the morning and someone was there to pick us up. James had told us that they would take us somewhere we could sleep for a while until the tour bus picked us up. So we ended up here.... this totally random room in someones house that is filled with beds. It was super creepy. It looked like something from a horror movie, but we were all too tired to care so we slept like babies until they came to get us.

We went around the city and picked up a bunch of other people and then headed down to the port where about 25 of us loaded onto one of these boats and headed out into the lake. Lake Titcaca is the highest navigable lake in the world at 12,500 ft. It is also the largest lake in South America. The name is a combination of their local languages Aymara and Quechua and translates to "Rock Puma". The aerial view looks like a puma chasing a rabbit.

Our first stop was the floating island of Uros. The ancestors of these people lived on the mainland and were enslaved, so they escaped to the lake and there built a floating island. It's base is made up of the root systems of the reeds and then covered with reeds on top. Everything on the island is also made of reeds.

Here you can see the roots under the reeds. The island is made up of lots of little communities. Each island has about 5 or 6 families and each island has a president. If you want to move, you just cut off the section of the island that has your house and float to a new location. Kind of crazy.

Here are several different communities.

They can even make these boats out of them.

Their main livelihood in the islands is tourism so as our boat came close to the island each community had people dressed in bright colored traditional dress on the shore waving in the boats. So we pulled up to one and filed off onto this squishy island (it felt like waking in a hay stack) and they did a little presentation for us about their island. This is something they eat, it is the very bottom portion of the reed and was like eating celery with no flavor.

This little old woman was just plopped down in the reeds (very comfortable - I tried it) working on her crafts.

After their presentation about their island they showed us their homes. It felt kind of weird to be in their house, but interesting to see how they live. This is about all their house is, just this one little room. Don't worry thought, they did have a TV.....not sure how they get electricity out there, but they do.

They had prepared all these handicrafts to sell. I really loved these colorful mobiles.

Like I said the reeds were very comfortable. I was super tired, and very tempted to lay down for a quick siesta.

Charli had met this little girl who was of course super cute and so she took a picture with us. Just after that she asked for money over and over and then tried to unzip my pocket to get some....that kind of stinks.

After that we got to take a ride in one of the reed boats, which is their main form of transportation between islands.

Our next stop was about three hours away, the island of Amantani. It was fairly barren....lots of sheep, which I love.

At the port we met Rosa, the "mamita" we were going to stay with. This is her home. The bricks on the house are made of compacted mud and grass. Below you can see Lucy, her 5 year old daughter. Rosa also has a brand new baby named Roy....not sure that one is very traditional.

This is the view from our window. If I didn't know better I would say it is the ocean. What beautiful water!

After having lunch that Rosa made for us, Lucy took us up the hill to meet up with the other people in our group. Life here is so much simpler. People don't have to worry about their kids getting stolen since it is such a small, intimate community. What a blessing.

Once we got the whole group together, we hiked up to the highest point of the mountain to the temple of Pachatata - or Father Earth. From there the view was incredible and we could see the sunset beautifully.

When we arrived we had to walk around the temple three times, which essentially looked like four rock walls. This is supposed to get out all the bad energy and fill you with good energy.

We got to witness a really incredible sunset.

When we got home from the hike, the Mamita Rosa came and brought us all traditional dress and helped us get ready to go to a hall for a little traditional Peruvian dancing.....we were all dead tired, but how could we resist!

Here we are at the ball. We all just looked a little poofy -we all have our big coats on under, so cold. But we got dancing and warmed right up.

Here is the band. The music was very classically south american. It sounded a lot like native american music.

Their dances are mostly circle dances where you all hold hands and swing your hands in and out of the circle while you dance around in a circle, but we also really liked spinning in our big full skirts.

We partied late into the night - only made it until about 9:30 when we were all falling asleep standing up. The two other girls in this picture are from Israel and stayed in our house as well. They were in South America for a year! Guess that is very normal in their culture. Cool girls. So we had a great time at the "ball" and then went home and slept very well that night.

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