Floating Near The Top Of The World

Trip Start Jan 08, 2007
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Trip End Oct 01, 2007


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Flag of Peru  ,
Thursday, April 19, 2007

Rolled into Puno's port about 530am in time to see a spectacular sunrise over the far end of  Lake Titicaca before arranging a trip with Victoriano and Nicolas two Amantian captains both sporting traditional Chullos(woven hats). We finally set off around 830 myself packed in between many a coca leaf chewing local (having drunk many a mate de Coca (Coca tea) to help ward off the evils of altitude sickness I have so far not partaken in the traditional act of chomping on the small bitter green leaves more commonly renowned for yielding snow white nose candy.)
After a short cruise we docked with one of the smaller floating reed islands of Uros and of course were instantly confronted by a regiment of Artisan sellers. Jumping down onto the layers and layers of Totora reeds brought an extremely odd sensation. The spongy almost springy surface reminiscent of walking over train seats rots from below hence must be continuously built up and while feeling unstable is perfectly capable of supporting a number small homes and steady torrent of gringos. The quaint beautifully constructed reed houses complete with solar powered TVs really brought the whole experience together. Honestly even though worth seeing the strange floating city of reeds I feel the inhabitants may have been somewhat corrupted by tourism and I'm not even sure if they actually live on their rotting rafts or simply turn up everyday to give us a good show. Either way I felt compelled to purchase a bracelet out of a gesture of goodwill for letting us invade their family home.
Leaving Uros clinging to the reeds we proceeded further into the lake on a channel cut between the life supporting plants and headed into open water where I promptly passed out from exhaustion missing nearly the entire voyage and crisping slightly. It feels pretty cold in the wind at 3820m, however almost being high enough to hear God this also makes the suns job just that little bit easier and when we pulled into Amantani isle's jetty the day was steaming and I could remove the 3 jumpers, Poncho and Alpaca hat preventing assault from the elements!
Amantani holds on tightly to its traditions, there are no cars, no dogs, no electricity, and simply consists of a few tiny villages while the remaining entirety of the island is terraced and host to a variety of growths including potatoes, beans , Quinua and strange potato like entities that tasted wonderful.
It turned out I was invited to stay at Victoriano's family home, where I would share a room with Torsden(D) and following a highly nutritious Quinua soup, with beans and potato thingies we went to explore the islands 2 highest points. Atop each is a ritual circle encased by a stone wall. The smaller of these for worship and offerings to Pachamama(Mother Earth) and the grander to celebrate Pachatata(Father Earth). Ceremonies and sacred rituals with offerings to the earth take place on 30th Jan every year to ensure good returns from the terraced grounds of the island.
By this hour the sun had begun to set and overshadowed by the prospect of never finding my bed and having to freeze huddled against a terraced wall I opted to pick the only concrete path heading back to town from Pachatata. There awaited Naty(Delia); Victoriano's 17 year old daughter and his wife who had carefully prepared another delicious meal and laid out an assortment of Chullos. The hat I finalised on was hand crafted by Vics wife in a month and has been decorated with symbols representing Pachamama and the Isle of Amantani.
I trundled off to bed as the stars twinkled over the dark land after an extremely tranquil and relaxing day eager for the morning boat.
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