Lake Titicaca

Trip Start Aug 09, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Peru  ,
Monday, November 10, 2008

Though the name may sound funny to us it translates to "Rock Puma" as the lakeīs shape allegedly looks like a puma hunting a rabbit.  We opted for a tour of the lake and three of its islands with a small, friendly group of 13 and our guide Erwin.  The lake is the highest, navigable lake in the world as it sits at 12,500 ft.  The lake sits high in the Andean mountains and shares a border with Bolivia (Copacabana). 

Isla de Uros - The Uros Islands are artificial, floating islands made of reeds that grow in the shallow depths of the lake.  It is mainly told that they choose to live like this in defense from Inca wars however our guide believes it is for agricultural reasons.  Previously they mainly survived on catching and trading fish for other necessities and now tourism provides a great boost to their economy.  Everything on the islands is made from the reed as you will see in the pictures and part of the reed is edible.  They have to rebuild their houses every 6 months and add new layers of flooring every 3 months.  Walking on the island was a weird sensation, very springy and soft.  There are about 40 of these islands.

Isla de Aramanti - Aramanti Island was about 3 hours further from Uros and provides stunning views of the Andean mountains.  The water became increasingly blue the further we got from the mainland.  The island is home to about 5,000 Quecha speaking natives divided into 8 communities.  They all support each other rotating duties of agriculture with the tourism business.  The islanders host tourists at their homes and cook 3 traditional meals for us.  The food was delicious and all vegetarian and heavy in starch rich foods as these grow best on the island.  I tried to help prepare lunch and peel some potatoes but I didnīt get too far.  The potatoes are the size of a kiwi and they gave me a butcher knife to peel it.  They can do it in a minutes in a spiral but it took me 20 minutes to do 2.  In the evening they dress us up in their traditional clothes and host a festival for us with music and dancing.  It is quite funny.  We hiked to the top of the island which is home to two ruins.  Pachamama (mother earth) and Pachatata (father earth) and watched the sunset.  The island has electricity however water for only one hour a day.  Can you imagine?

Isla de Taquile - The next morning we traveled to the beautiful island of Taquile.  This small island is home to 2,500  people broken up into two communities which continues to live by the Inca moral code "Do not steal, do not lie, do not be lazy".  The traditional clothes are still worn by the men which is far more rare to see anywhere.  The men actually knit their own hats that depict weather they are single or married. 
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