Cruising on Lake Titicaca!

Trip Start Nov 29, 2008
Trip End May 08, 2009

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Following a quick recovery fry-up breakfast in Cuzco after the Inca Trail we set off for Puno, a town on the edge of Lake Titcaca.  On the bus (another local bus which we love!) a woman came on with a whole cooked pig and chopped it up on the bus with a massive meat cleaver before handing it out to everyone with potatoes and picallily - very impresive lunch service.  We stayed in a slightly odd hostal in Puno which was only half built and had lots of wires hanging everywhere and was definitely built for small people.  Our room was very Granny-style but it had its own special charm.
We arranged a tour on the lake and left the next day.  Lake Titicaca is beautiful and the highest naviagable lake in the world - it's about 3800m above sea level.  After 3 hours on the boat we arrived at Uros,  a floating island made of reeds.  The island was really small but eight families lived and worked there.  The island is anchored to the bottom of the lake and they have to renew the reeds on it every two weeks.  They also use the reeds for building houses, making boats and they even eat them (though they taste of water).  The lake was so blue and beautiful.  We sailed around the island in one of the reed boats which was really relaxing and the people on the island sang us a traditional song.  It was absolutely amazing and crazy that people live on such a tiny floating island made of nothing but straw- and yet they have solar power and TVs.  Crazy! There are about 40 floating islands so they have a floating primary school for all the children. From Uros we went to Amantani, a non-floating island with about 4000 people on it but no hotels so we all stayed with local families.  It was like going back in time on the island because there are no cars, very unpredictable electricity and everything seemed to be done by hand like farming.  The families all speak Quechua (which sounds a bit like Japanese to us) but also Spanish so we could chat to them.  Our Amantani mum was called Flora and was so sweet.  We had a really cute room in their house which overlooked the lake and we had lunch there.  They grow all their food - lots of potatoes, quinoa (a kind of cereal which looks like tiny worms) and yuca (which is like a potato and looks like a bigger worm!).  After lunch we walked up to Pacha Mama temple at the very top of the island.  We were quite upset at the prospect of more steep walking up hill but we managed it and had great views over the lake.  We also bumped into a few of our friends from the Inca Trail and did some more jumping photos! After another delicious dinner at Flora's house by candlelight (there was no electricity at all and no water for most of our stay) we were given some of the traditional clothes to wear for the evening fiesta. The women wear white embroidered blouses with huge skirts, bright belts and black head scarves.   It was so fun to dress up in the clothes and they were so brightly coloured.  We felt enormous though as we were wearing about 4 layers underneath.  We then took lots of photos of us...particularly of Jill who looked like a giant in our tiny room next to our really small doorway.  In the evening, we went to a local fiesta with our group and all their families.  There was a really good band with panpipes and guitars and LOTS of dancing - mainly everyone running round and round in a massive circle but it was really fun.  

After a good night's sleep we had breakfast (quinoa donuts) and mate de muņa (a tea made from another plant that is meant to help with altitude) before getting back onto our boat.  This was a big mistake as the lake was really rough and most of our boat felt pretty sea sick...we were told to look at the horizon but it kept disappearing as our boat tipped!  After a very long hour we got to Taquile island where we walked (again!!) up to the main plaza and had a wander round.  We got surrounded by lots of local children asking for sweets and trying to sell us bracelets....they were cute but they all whispered to us which was a bit creepy.  We had lunch then went down to the port and sailed home.  The lake was much calmer so we lay on the roof in the sunshine and topped up our tan - it was so relaxing!
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