Indian Jill Travels Back in Time

Trip Start Aug 17, 2007
Trip End Sep 06, 2007

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Flag of Peru  ,
Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I have just traveled back in time 300 years and it all feels surreal. What an adventure I am having. We chose Lake Titicaca only because it is the highest inland lake in the world and we thought more time at altitude would help us on our hike.  Lake Titicaca is so amazing it warrants a trip all of our own, I had no idea how fabulous it would be. 

We stayed on the island if Amontoni, about as barren an island as you can get.  We were all a little nervous about meeting our home families.  It was a 4 hour boat ride to get to our island on Lake Titicaca.  Our boat was a 36 foot charter boat, with an upper level viewing platform , as well as lower level seating, and seating inside the cabin.  Lake Titicaca is surrounded by mountains and the first few miles of the lake is covered in large reeds. More on the reeds later.  We arrived at Amantoni about 4:00 p.m., docked and hiked up a steep hill to where our Mamas were waiting.  About a dozen ladies waited for us and our guide called out the 6 Mamas that would be required. We had been practicing our Spanish all afternoon so that we could greet our Mamas and introduce ourselves.  We were all very nervous and very hesitant.  As they called out our Mamas name a very shy women of about 24 years old stepped forward and we made very poor attempts at an introduction in Spanish. As she lead us up a huge hill to her house I was praying that guinea pigs would not be greeting us at the door.  My prayers were answered, only a husband, 2 young daughters and a grandmother.  Mama Isabelle showed us to our room and we had a few minutes to settle in.  Our room was actually very nice, small and clean with a little table for 2. We did not have much time to unpack before we were lead off for more climbing on an even higher path to the soccer pitch. A few of the men on our tour played against the local players and got very badly beaten.  Then back down the steep path to our accommodations.  The Mama came and got us for dinner where we were shown into a little seating area of the kitchen.  It was very dark by this time, they have only candlelight, a wood stove, a small propane burner and we could barely see.  I certainly have no idea how Mama Isabelle could cook in the darkness.  We were treated like royalty and had a dinner of potato soup, and a main dish consisting of rice, potatoes and a few vegetables in a creamy sauce.  It was delicious but I could not help but think how grateful I was that I had all of my shots before this trip.

After dinner we went back to our room to get ready for the evening festivities.   At about this time Al was struck with that famous South American affliction and had to go to bed.  Mama Isabelle dressed me up in her clothes. So this is the picture; two layers of petticoats and an over skirt, an embroidered long sleeved blouse, a cumber band that she did up so tight I could hardly breathe and a shawl over my head (which was already covered in a cute Peruvian hat).  And underneath this outfit my own clothes, hiking pants and boots.  So now I am hiking back up this huge hill (in the dark with my flashlight, no electricity for these people).  I was so exhausted and really feeling out of breath from the high altitude, and open the door to their ¨community hall¨ to find about 60 people dancing wildly.  My Mama grabs my hand and suddenly I am dancing in the midst of this huge pandemonium.  I am so sorry I did not have a video camera because no one would believe it unless they saw it.  Peruvians dance very fast, folk dancing style.  So lots of line dancing, similar to American early American folk dancing.  I am wearing 20 pounds of clothing and am dancing like a fiend at 13,000 feet above sea level.  My group is admiring my dance moves and we are having one heck of a party.  After about a half hour of this I was too exhausted to move and called it a night.  Another huge hike back down the mountain in the dark and I have to make my way to the outhouse, which in the pitch dark seems like miles from my room.

In the morning we have room service in our room, Mama Isabelle brings us hot tea and a crepe style pancake with jam.  We eat quickly as we are to be at the dock by 7:00 for our departure to the Floating Island of Uros.  Uros will be our 3rd island to visit.  Previous to visiting our families we had spent a half day hiking on Taquile Island, very high altitude which made breathing difficult.  Several of our group had already experienced the affects of the attitude.  2 of the girls had gotten sick the moment we arrived at the airport in Puno  Over the course of the next 2 days a great many suffered from severe headaches, nausea, and stomach flu symptoms.  Al and I have both been spared so far.

Uros was about a 3 hours boat ride from the island of Amantoni and it was so amazing that it is hard to describe.  It consists of a cluster of 40 small islands.  The island that we visited was made up of seven families, 28 people in all.  The island is made from reeds, anchored into the lake.  They make their houses from these reeds, make boats from it, use if for fuel, and eat the young stalks for food.  Thor Heyerdahl visited these islands and used reeds from these islands to make the Kon Tiki.  It is beyond words to see this huge establishment of floating villages, surrounded by huge reeds.  Most of these people live their entire lives on these islands and except for a visit into Puno to get food they never leave. They have an island that contains their school and an island that has a hospital (although very small).  I truly feel like I have been transported to another world.

 We are heading back into Puno where we have arranged for a private bus for our group, instead of taking the ¨milk run¨ that had been planned.  We are off to Cusco, more later!
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