What Happens On Amantani Stays on Amantani

Trip Start Sep 08, 2012
Trip End Nov 27, 2012

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Where I stayed
Amantani Island

Flag of Peru  ,
Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Amantani is one of the islands on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca and was the site of our home-stay. We stayed one evening with a local family as part of our 2 day tour of Uros, Amantani and Taquile. Lake Titicaca is divided between Peru and Bolivia. Depending on who you are talking to, 60%25 is owned by Peru and 40%25 by Bolivia. Apparently, Bolivians say the exact opposite is true.

24 hours earlier, I decided to skip the tourist bus and opted for the local bus from Cusco to Puno. Luckily, I had company to show me the ropes. Our two other companions took the tourist bus and we all met up at the hostel that evening. Even with their stop to fix the radiator, the tourist bus made it to Puno well before we did. Our bus ride was also eventful but in a different way. It was definitely full of adventure and beautiful sites- especially the high pass at La Raya (4,314 m or 14,135 ft). We had front row seats on the second floor of the double decker bus. The only regret I had from the trip was trying a tiny bite of the stuffed pepper from one of the 'hop on' vendors, or maybe it was the little bite of lamb? Maybe the headache/nausea I felt was from going up from 11,200ft to 12,500 ft. Eh! somehow I think it was the food, AGAIN.

The hostel was located off the beaten path but quite. I especially liked the view from the roof. I didn't end up getting a picture of it but it had an outdoor hammock area. You could also see the lake from the roof. That evening I got a look at two of the stars of the Southern Cross but not the whole thing. I'm not leaving until I see it! Depending on who wins the the upcoming election, I may just stay here! For the record,I mean no disrespect to my dear friends who are wanting a change in the White House, this is just one girl's opinion.

Anyway, the next day we were off bright and early. Thankfully I was feeling better; this was a very good thing since we were about to get on the boat for a three hour tour to the Island of Uros. I forget the name of our boat but it was NOT the S.S. Minnow nor was there a handsome middle-aged professor on board who could make a radio out of coconuts, but I digress... We arrived on schedule (mas or menos) to one of the islands of Uros.

A couple of neat facts about Uros:

1. The islands are home to the Uros tribe, a tribe that pre-dates Incan civilization. I decided to use 'Incan' here instead of 'Inka;' I am pretty sure both are correct.
2. The islands are made from a cattail type rush growing native in the lake. Its dense roots support the top layer, which rots and must be replaced regularly by stacking more reeds on top of the layer beneath.
3. If there is a dispute between parties, the island can literally be cut in half.

After our Uros, tour we headed to Amantani, where our host mom, Benita, was waiting for us at the port. There are 10 or so communities on the island and home-stays are rotated between them in the interest of economic fairness. We settled in just in time for lunch which consisted of fried cheese and rice followed by coca tea. Yum!

The next item on the agenda was meeting our bigger group (plus a few other groups) at the Pachatata (Father Earth) Sanctuary to watch the sunset. As usual, Ellen and I had a different plans. Figuring we had an 'acclimatization' leg up on the other tourists, we set out a bit early to Pachatata so we could then hustle across the way to watch the sunset from the Pachamama (Mother Earth) Sanctuary. It just made more sense, plus there would be a heck of a lot less people there. All along the path to Pachatata, vendors were setting up shop in preparation for the onslaught of tourists about to hit. The vendors didn't bother with us too much. I think it was because we were too early and too quick. However, we were approached by several children trying to sell us various items we when got to the top. One boy in particular cornered me and wanted 'monie' for some very bad flute playing. Sorry kid, but you need more practice. I can't in my heart of hearts willingly give anyone any money or encouragement for bad music playing. I do hope he improves though!

We made it to the Pachamama in plenty of time for the sunset, which was one of the most amazing I have ever seen. And we were only two of eight people on the summit! Bonus: NO vendors. We got back in plenty of time for dinner (a spaghetti dish with potatoes) and to prepare for the evening's fiesta. The fiesta involved dressing up in traditional clothing and gathering at a local meeting hall for music and dancing. Benita brought the garments to our room and dressed me up. Strangely, it reminded me of my senior prom. Ellen documented the 'dressing' as Benita adorned me with multiple, very heavy layers. Despite the cold evening, there was no way I was going to be chilly in my new outfit. It was a lot of fun, but I definitely had a twinge of touristy/gringa uncomfortableness... but hey, when am I going to have an opportunity like this again? The fiesta was filled with local music, group dancing and a bit good-natured mischief/irreverence to mix it up. The mischief I blame on my grandmother Marge's spirit and the irreverence, the moon. HA!

The next morning greeted us with an equally amazing sunrise (our room faced east over the lake). It doesn't get any better than the amazing sunset, followed by the evening's moonrise, then the sunrise we saw within that 12 hour period. What a beautiful island! As a small token of our appreciation we gave our hosts, amulets (hand made by Aka) and toothbrushes (some of which were donated by you! Thanks!). We exchanged hugs with the family, before Benita brought us back down to the port where we were to depart for our half-day tour of Taquile. Taquile is a very interesting island with long standing customs. There are no cops and little to no corruption on the island. I liked everything I heard except for the part about women having to walk a few meters behind their husbands and never really being allowed to express their opinions openly. Our guide, 'Pepe' jokingly asked me what I thought of that... guess I must of made a face. HA x 2!

Our lunch spot on Taquile was probably the best lunch spot ever... I know I keep saying the 'best ever' but I really mean it! Our boat ride back to Puno was just as wonderful as the previous day's had been. Lake Titicaca is really worth checking out. Again, I lack the language to describe its beauty. Hopefully, I captured some of its wonder with the pictures I took.

For the last part of the journey,I had the upper deck to myself and decided to bring along some music. It was perfect! Interestingly enough (and perhaps only to me) I ended up having a 'Claire Fisher' driving (replace the car with a boat) off into her future moment which was quite powerful. If you haven't seen Six Feet Under, this reference won't make any sense but DO check out the series sometime, it's pure genius. Suffice to say I gotta whole lot of perspective during that short time alone on the upper deck. Sometimes you really do need to get away to see things clearly and/or in a new way.


Advice to take, leave or just plain ignore for the day: When life deals you a f#$ked situation, be open to the lessons it brings you. Good news: Karma will eventually sort it out if you can't. Always try to be nice to people. Also- find the courage to apologize if you've ever acted like an asshat to someone.

Apologizing can be very hard, I know (I too have worn the hat of the ass more than once) but worth it. Good will things happen. Trust me.


Finally, I bring you the wrap up (which, incidentally, is sponsored by Bob Loblaw's Law Blog). The next day we went on a very pleasant half day tour of the Sillistani Ruins (see pictures) Neat!

Next up... Arequipa!

Thanks for reading!

Neko Case's "Blacklisted" (album)
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Dottie on

I loved reading this!!! Awesome great pictures:)

Uncle E on


You are one cool dudette! May your journey be one with the universe, your pants less stinky, your bank account sustainable and your smile never ending.

Love and safe travel kiddo...

mc1rvariant on

Thanks Uncle E!

mc1rvariant on

Thanks Ma!

Lawrence on

It looks like the trip of a lifetime... have much fun... I'll be here and green with envy.

Vicki on

Hey Kel! Love the blog! My two favorite parts so far are in this entry, the marge reference and the word asshat (one of my most loved words)! Glad you are having fun!

mc1rvariant on

HA! Viva la Marge!

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