Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Lake Titicaca

Yeah! We got to sleep in until 6:45. This felt like such luxury, as we had dropped into bed exhausted after so many early mornings. We are still recovering from our hike, and Marianne is still not feeling well, so we were in bed by 8:00. We set off for our boat tour of Lake Titicaca in a cabin cruiser, so are much happier today. We had heard that the boat would be very cold, but it is actually very comfortable.

Puno from the boat
Lake Titicaca means Puma stone in the Quechua language. It is the highest lake in the world at 3809 meters;it is 8560 square kilometers large, and 280 meters deep. Sixty percent of the lake is located in Peru and fortypercent in Bolivia. Trout have been introduced to the lake from Canada, and Kingfish from Argentina.

We were greeted at the first Uros island by a group of local women.

The Uros people came to the lake during Inca times to escape the Incas. They stay because they like the fish and the way of life. There are sixty lloating islands with 1900 inhabitants. They have a primary school, but children have to go to the mainland for secondary. They now have solar power.

The boats used to last for only six months, but now last for two and a half years, because they now use nylon rope to bind the reeds together rather than reed binding. They also use plastic drink bottles in the hull to add extra flotation. (Pretty clever recycling if you ask me!)

The reeds can also be eaten. Peel the outside off, and the inside has iodine and other medicinal qualities, good for many things including rheumatism. Rheumatism is a big problem for the islanders, as they are walking on wet reeds during the rainy season.

The islands are created by taking the roots of the reeds, which come up naturally when they collect the reeds, then driving a eucalyptus stake into the roots, so that they can tie the clumps of roots together. They drive a long stake into the lake bed to anchor the island, using a minimum of 8 anchors. These have to be replaced every 3 weeks.
Demonstration of how they make the islands.
The people are lovely and welcoming. This little girl was very shy, but we managed to get a picture of her.

We stayed overnight on Amantani island, the largest island on the Peruvian side. There are 5000 people living here, speaking Quechua and Spanish. People living here are vegetarian, at least we weren't expected to eat guinea pig or alpaca.

After meeting our host mother, Martha, we set off for the long one kilometer trek up the hill to our homestay. There are no cars on the island, so people walk everywhere. Unfortunately, I overpacked, and am still feeling the exhaustion from the trek, so we had to stop several times for a rest on the way up.

Our new home!
The view from our new home!

Our new home is like an attic room with a private entrance right off the upstairs balcony....very cozy! The kitchen is in a separate building. Our hosts, Christina and Martha cooked a lovely meal over a clay stove. The propane stove was just used to boil water.

Our host family

After a lunch of quinua soup and fresh vegetables (with potatoes of course), we set off on a hike up Pachamama mountain to view the sunset. We are still not recovered from our trek, so we found this very difficult, as it was about 2 kilometers straight up. It was worth it, though!

Our quaint little home isn't heated, and it is 37 degrees fahrenheit, so we wore all our clothes to bed.


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