Mmm...Guinea Pigs

Trip Start Nov 22, 2005
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Trip End May 15, 2006


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Flag of Peru  ,
Saturday, January 28, 2006

One of the reasons why I joined this Bolivia-Peru tour was to experience things I wouldn`t otherwise have been able to experience on my own. This was one of them.

Lake Titicaca is the highest lake in the world (3855m) and the largest in South America (8300 sq.km). Just standing at the edge of the lake is breathtaking enough (literally). Once called "The Sacred Lake", according to legend the lake gave birth to the Inca civilisation. It was considered so sacred that if someone fell into the lake by accident, they would be considered an offering to Pachamama (or Mother Earth) and no one would bother saving them.

The first island we visited was Amantani, where we had the honorable opportunity of staying overnight in the home of a native Indian family. With no running water and no electricity, their home was basic-basic. But the families were so hospitable and immediately welcomed us into their homes. The mother and two daughters would prepare our meals around a fire oven and declined all our offers to assist them. They served our dinner on the one dining table they had while they ate their dinner sitting on the floor in the shadow of our candle light. This felt a bit awkward to me but they were content simply to eat dinner together as a family. Afterwards we were invited to a traditional Andean dance party where we were given traditional Andean costumes to wear. Here is where I found my calling as a Peruvian-Andean dancer and was complimented on how well I danced for a first-timer. Considering how tightly the skirt was wrapped around my waist, I`m surprised that I was able to move at all.

The next day we said our good byes and gave gifts to our families, then we set sail for the islands of Tequile (not tequila) and Bay of Puno. The islands in the bay of Puno are interesting because they are floating islands made completely from totora-reeds, a bamboo-looking plant. These islands are inhabited by Uros Indians, who originally took to the islands to escape the tribes around Lake Titicaca. Walking on the island, you can feel the motion of the water under your feet which is a bit scary. The reeds are used for making houses, boats, souvenirs, and even for eating (tastes a bit like celery). Another benefit is that islands can be created or destroyed. If one family doesn`t get along with another family on the island, they simply pull out a few reeds to create two separate islands - instant conflict resolution.

We managed to walk up a mountain for every island that we visited in the lake (except for the reed islands). By the time we arrived back on shore, I had had enough of mountain walking. But next stop is Machu Picchu and there are still a lot more mountains to climb.
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