Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Lake Titicaca Day 2

After a solid eleven hour sleep under four heavy wool blankets, we awoke to yet another beautiful day. Life on this island is so amazingly peaceful, without any of the modern conveniences. There was no noise, no light, and no distractions, which can so easily interfere with healthy sleep. The only thing we heard all night was the braying of the burro at 4:30, but he had the good manners to only bray once, and we went right back to sleep.
A new experience for Marianne, and one that I hadn't experienced since I was a litle girl visiting relatives on the prairies, was using the potty in the middle of the night. Although it wasn't exectly elegant, it sure beat traipsing across the field to the flush outhouse in the middle of the night!
One of the things that most impressed me about the island was seeing the mothers carrying their babies up to four years old on their backs. This is especially amazing, as these mothers often have to walk very long ways on fairly steep mountain paths.
The other thing that I found interesting was the way in which the women never walked empty handed. Since they do so much walking it makes sense to take advantage of the time by spinning or knitting as they walk, seldom looking to check their work!
Saying "good-bye" to our host mama with her house in the background
After breakfast,we boarded the boat for our voyage to Tranquille Island, another island that lacks all the modern conveniences, including roads. We got off at one end of the island, and hiked to the other. UP, UP, UP, then down, down, down! We should be in great shape by the time we get home!
Tranquille Island from the boat
Along the way, we saw breathtaking views, interesting sculptures, people in ethnic clothing, and, surprise, surprise, people selling handicrafts! Each little village was defined by these little archways. The sculptures on top are meant to keep the village safe.
Too cute!
The streets in the town are very narrow, as there is no motor transportation.

We stopped for lunch at a lovely mountaintop restaurant with amazing views of the lake. We enjoyed delicious quinua soup. I am definitely going to have to explore different ways of making quinua when I get home.
The view from the restaurant
Passion fruit growing at the restaurant
We were treated to fascinating demonstrations at the restaurant, including the traditional way of making soap from the chujo plant. The leaves are ground down using a grinding stone, put into a cloth that is closed, then squeezed out into the water. This made an amazing amount of suds, and did a great job of cleaning a piece of natural sheep's wool.
We were also shown how the people weave their clothes, and an explanation of the different clothing. At the previous island, the shawls that the women wore on their heads were embroidered with family patterns, on Tranquille Island they are not. The single women decorate each corner of their shawl with huge, colourful pompons worn in front, while the married women decorate theirs with small plain pompoms, tucked behind their backs.

The men wear embroidered cumberbunds, which are of two layers; one that is very firm and stiff, with the decorated layer over top. The stiff under layer acts as a back brace, as it is the tradition on this island to not have the animals carry heavy loads. Somehow, it is seen as more humane to have the men carry them instead!

The fuschia flower, the national flower of Peru, grows wild on the islands.
We arrived back in Puno around 3:30 and had some time to explore the town. We went to an arts cooperative and bought some presents for our loved ones, including ourselves. We were delighted to find a cute little restaurant in the coperative that served some healthy salads, as we were ready for a break from quinua and potatoes! We were excited to be able to shower and get comfortable in our hotel, with all the comforts of home!


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