On the shores of Lake Titicaca
Trip Start Apr 20, 2008
47Trip End Aug 29, 2008
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Alison: We were up at 3.00 for our transfer to the airport to fly to Juliaca, which was a bit tough on all of us, but finally we arrived there to be met by our guide Javier, a nice chap who actually lives on the floating islands with his Uros family. Juliaca is a dusty, busy commercial hub of the high Andes plains and about an hour and a half's drive from Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca. On our way to Puno we visited the Necropolis of Sillustani, circular stone towers or Chullpas, where the Collas and then the Incas buried important people.
Alison: After breakfast at the hotel, we packed our bags and were picked up at 9.00 to take a boat out to the floating islands of Lake Titicaca. These islands are reached via a channel through the reed beds which luckily act to reduce the pollution reaching them from the water near Puno.
We then made the mad dash to Juliaca to catch our plane, but needn't have worried as it was delayed. When we finally reached cold and foggy Lima the transfer was waiting to take us to our hotel, but we got them to take us via Maccas so the kids could have some dinner as we wanted to go straight to bed. Once back at Los Garisoles Hotel, I repacked the bags so that we could take what we needed for the Amazon into one bag and leave the rest at the hotel to be delivered to the airport when we left the country. This of course took some doing, especially as we have kept buying stuff, despite my pleas about minimal room left in the bags! Eventually, at about 10 p.m. I crashed, not looking forward to getting up at 3.00 a.m. for our next flight.
Mike: It was nice to be greeted by another warm and friendly guide Javier at the airport. After our bruising succession of early flights and starts it was a relief to know that the next few days would be fairly leisurely, with quite a bit of chill out time in between, suiting me down to the ground! The Necropolis was fascinating but more amazing was the beautiful lake that lay beyond, quite hidden from view until one literally almost stumbled on the edge of it. Not even Lake Titicaca, it left me pleased to anticipate what else lay ahead...
The real highlight though of this day for me, was visiting the home of some of the local people and sharing a glimpse into their daily lifestyle so different from our own. Compared to the rush rush Western lifestyle, with so much to do but seemingly so little perhaps being achieved (!), it was fascinating to get a feel for the incredibly hard working, resourceful and productive day that they led, with by our standards so much repetition and so little leisure time. Their self sufficiency and ability to feed and clothe and more generally provide for themselves was quite incredible, making so much from so little that they had. Every thing had multiple uses and purposes and the word 'waste' would not be part of their vocabulary. It was also really inspiring to see how close their family units were, living always as extended families of parents, brothers, sisters and in-laws, all helping to fend for each other and to pool their resources. Taking for granted their daily twohour walk with their animals for water, was only one example of just how staggeringly different their life was to our own back home.
The next day, venturing out to Javier's own family home on the floating islands, served merely to reinforce these observations... We were quite awestruck by the serenity of their location and also their ability to have constructed their homes, the island itself and the entirety from just their immediate natural resources! As in Vietnam and other places I had an overwhelming sense of their material poverty but inner strength and richness, seemingly never questioning or bemoaning their lot in life but happily going about their days work.
Finally while I think of it, too, to follow are a few (unrelated) observations and reflections on our time in not just Peru but South America in general which we so greatly enjoyed: families of up to 24 children by the same parents were not uncommon!; selling anything anywhere, including seemingly countless people hawking their wares weaving among the traffic on the streets... (God, if only it were that easy to find salespeople so motivated and willing back home); asking for beer or cerveza in the local tongue, which constantly brought back lovely memories of our annual Christmas adventure with our group of friends where ''cervezas'' are the order of the day!; cultures so vastly different to our own yet universally shared understandings and wonderful laughter; wonderful meals in Peru with an array of local exotic foods and a bottle of wine with a bill coming in at the pricely sum of $20 to $40! and so much more....
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