Humbling experience at a Homestay.

Trip Start Mar 02, 2011
Trip End Apr 12, 2011

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Flag of Peru  , Puno,
Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tuesday 29th. 
Another bus (surely this is the last one!) over the border into Peru. We did a lake crossing on a boat while our bus went over on a ferry.  We followed the shores of Lake Titicaca and into Peru.  Iīve now clocked up 29 countries that I have visited.  Yay for me!  We met our new guide, Elvis!  (So thatīs where he is now!).  We went out for dinner at a very posh restaurant in Puno (still so very cheap!) and had our first "Pisco Sour" drink, made with Pisco, whatever that is (like a grappa), real lemon-ade, sugar and egg white. Then we all went to a reggae club and had a few drinks and laughs. 
Wednesday 30th 
We packed our daypacks and headed to the Puno port in tricycle tuk tuks. We met up with another Gecko Tour group, jumped on a boat and headed out into the calm waters of Lake Titicaca.  Our first stop was to the floating islands where we met locals who showed us how they lived on mad-made reed islands. A young girl took me into her reed house and dressed me up in a felt skirt and traditional hat.  I bought a tapestry from her and we learnt about their lifestyle.  We had a ride on their reed boat and then got back into our tour boat after we made a donation.  Three hours later, we arrived at Antamani Island, where we were split up into groups to go into the local peopleīs homes to stay for a night.  Alisha, Alan and myself were introduced to our "Pappa", Jacinca (pronounced Hasinca).  He took us into his home and introduced us to his wife and his two children, a 5 year old son and a 12 year old girl.  They spoke no English and we didn't speak their local language or Spanish, so we got by with body language and embarrassingly trying to read from Alishaīs Spanish phrase book.  We played guns with the little boy who had a wooden machine gun and then played volleyball with the girl.  Then they put on a fabulous lunch for us, a bowl of quinoa and potatoe soup, which was very nice and then potatoes with lettuce, tomatoe and a fried cheese.  We were embarrassed that we couldnīt eat all of the generous meal!  Then our Pappa took us to the main village square where we met all the other tourists on the island, to climb up to the top of the lookout for sunset (4100m).  This was a good test for the Inca Trail, as to how we coped with altitude and exercise.  I did OK, after all, Iīd climbed to 5580m recently!   It was dark when we returned to the house.  We were then given supper, a noodle and potatoe soup, then rice with tasty vegies. So much food!  Then Mumma and our "sister" dressed us up in the local traditonal dress, a heavy felt skirt, embroided top, tight waist belt in coloured stripes and then a black embroided shawl worn balanced on the head. Alan got a poncho and a traditional ear-warmer beanie.  We then went to the local community hall where all the host families took us tourists for a traditonal dance.  The band played flutes, guitars and drums and we danced and jigged for hours, islander style!  It was funny and tiring.  We were one of the last groups to leave though. 
Thursday 31st.  
Last night we only had candlelight in our room.  The beds and pillows were hard but we had good warm blankets for a good sleep during the chilly night. The toilet here at their house was especially built for westener visitors, however, there is no running water - we used a bucket to flush.  They have no electricity but they have a radio and thatīs about it, they live very primitively, living off their small farm allotment. It rained during the night so everything was wet in the morning.  For breakfast, Mumma cooked us pancakes.  We had tea with local grown "Munya" which is a great natural plant high in calcium. There is no crime on this island so they donīt even have a police station. It has been a very grounding and humbling experience to stay with this lovely family in this basic community.  There was lots of warm hand shakes and vigorous waving as we left the island.  Once back in Puno, we went out to a restaurant called "Machu Pizza!".  Isnīt that hilarous?!

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