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Lake Titicaca Islands

PERU | Saturday, 15 March 2008 | Views [2688] | Comments [4]

Patti:   We are on the countdown to coming home and have two major events still to come. We just arrived to Cusco from Lake Titicaca (the largest lake in South America) where we did a two day tour and visited indigenous people who still live on islands on the lake in traditional ways. Our first stop was called Uros, also known as the Floating Islands. The actual islands are not on land per se, but rather the people make the islands with various layers of reeds that grow in the lake. Also made out of the reeds are the small sleeping quarters, separate kitchens, tables, beds, chairs, and boats. It is a very basic way of life and the people who continue to live there have become quite dependant on the tourist dollar. The women do some fine embroidery and some other craft work that is up for sale.

Our second island stop was Amantani where we stayed the night. The way the tourists are accommodated is that they are matched with various families on the island to stay with them at their homes and eat their food. There are about 2000 people who live on the island in 4 different groups that are distinguished from each other by the color of the women’s dresses. We were matched with an elderly lady named Marta. We had a hard time keeping up with her as she led us up the hill to her home. We were still at about 4000 meters above sea level and feeling the effects of the elevation in terms of being able to get enough air in our lungs. By the way, Amy has been feeling back to normal the last few days. It was quite the experience to spend time with Marta and get a small taste of the islanders’ way of life. The house was build out of mud bricks (adobe), it was one of only a few homes that has electricity that was provided by solar power, the kitchen was a separate building with a small wood stove, candle light, and only a small table and bench for guests, and no indoor plumbing (we got our own outhouse). We were never sure how many people lived at the house because at different times we saw an elderly man, another woman about the same age as Marta, a younger woman, a young man, and we heard a baby crying. Most of islanders live as vegetarians because they basically live of the land. They have gardens but the only animals are sheep and chickens. They use the sheep for their wool and do lots of knitting and weaving and they do eat eggs. So after supper, Marta came up to our room with a huge bag of clothes. She dressed us up in traditional islander garb and had us follow her to the community hall. There was a big dance with the tourists and their families. The music was provided by young men from the island and it was high energy music. Marta kept hauling us on to the dance floor and with two layers of wool skirts, a wool shirt, and a wool shawl, it wasn’t long before we worked up a sweat. It was a really fun evening. The next morning we met our tour fairly early and said our goodbyes to Marta. All in all it was a very unique experience but this was the worst I felt about not being able to speak Spanish. It seems to me that Marta lives such a difficult life and has to work so hard that I felt guilty making her have to work hard to communicate with us. However, she was a very kind soul and didn’t seem to mind. We actually did pretty well with our sign language and Amy and I used a strategy of just repeating everything that she said. Our third island stop was called Taquile that also seemed to be a throwback in time. They chose to keep themselves isolated from the influences of the mainland and have preserved a tradition from pre-Columbia times. It’s hard to believe that people continue to live like this and I think it really has to be experienced to get a small sense of it.

So, as I said, we are now in Cusco. It is the gateway to the Amazon where we head tomorrow. We are on a 4 day, 3 night tour and we’re really looking forward to seeing some of the jungle. Then we are back to Cusco for a couple of days before doing our trek to Machu Picchu.  So our last two weeks are pretty scheduled (yeah!!!). Both excursions have us into the backcountry so our contact may be limited.

 

 

Comments

1

Hi. Cool experiences. The only old lady I get to talk to is Heidi (oh I hope she doesn't read this). Carly is done her musical at school. She did very well. It was great to have so many relatives come to watch her. Max's hockey team has qualified as the south Saskatchewan rep. for the provincial championship (in his division). His first game is this afternoon in Regina against a Saskatoon team that hasn't lost a game all season. They travel to Saskatoon later this week to complete the two game total point event. Hopefully they'll keep the games competitive. I have two hockey games left. Give us a call when you get home. Travel safely. Watch out for snakes.
Bob

  Bob Phillips Mar 17, 2008 2:36 AM

2

Ola, amigas!

'Been reading your recent adventures, and looking forward to more! 'Thinking of you both and wishing you well.

We're off WAY down south to Seattle and anticipating having coffee with kd (y'know, after her concert).

lotsa love & hugs,
Shan & Mon (and 74-lb Jed!)

  Shannon Jonassen Mar 18, 2008 3:49 AM

3

Hi. I finally got back here to check on you two.Sounds like your still seeing wonderful things.Im sure living the lifstyle of the Ilanders was right up your alley.We are both doing fine as well as that pest of yours.She thinks she can come sit on me whenever she wants.Marie feels neglected.It was great to hear you on the phone.We are anxious to have you back which wont be long now.Make sure you stay safe and enjoy it all.
Lot of Love Dad,Bert,Mom,Marie

  Bert PHILLIPS Mar 20, 2008 6:34 AM

4

Hi Girls,

I'm very much enjoying traveling with you. Looking forward to seeing you in person. You will have lotsa great photos to put up in your house.

Stay safe,

AM & Shelly

  Ann-Marie Mar 21, 2008 1:47 AM

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