10 November, Monday - Day 14
Boat trip on Lake Titicaca. Overnight village stay at Amantani Island
We’re up at 6 am for breakfast. Van came at 7:45 am to take us to the dock. We first visit the Uros floating islands.
These islands are man made using reeds that grow in the lake. The natives moved out onto the lake to avoid the mainland wars. The first islands were just boats made of reeds and rope. Families tied their boats together, built huts on them, and eventually anchored them. When necessary, the islands could be moved. Reeds were used for food, shelter and fuel for cooking as well. The reeds need replenishing as eventually they become rotted and waterlogged. An average island is 1 to 1.5 meters deep and floats on 28 meters deep water.
They give us a taste of the reeds. Reminded me of celery or hearts of palm, but softer.
Super fancy tourist boat
The islands industries are fishing and tourism. The natives speak three languages -- Aymaya (Cholla), Quecha (Inca) and Spanish.
The guide on the boat gave a long lecture on the mythology of the people and origins of Lake Titicaca. I favor the biblical flood for creating the lake over the earthquake capturing the pacific ocean story. Guidebooks state that the Incas believed their people originated from the lake. Our guide tells us that a drought had generated a western migration from Bolivia. A special man and woman were educated with all the knowledge and wisdom of the people to make the journey. I have three pages of notes on Inca mythology from this lecture which I am not going to write about in this log.
Happily, we had run into a young couple that we had seen in Ollanta in Puno. They had just done the Lake Titicaca village home stay and told us that lunch would be very late so we had packed sandwiches and snacks for the boat ride.
We arrived at Amantani Island at 1:30 pm. Our boat is divided up and we are each assigned a mama. It’s about an hour hike uphill to our mama’s house. Some poor women are carrying luggage for their guests. We had left our backpacks back in Puno and only took daypacks for this home stay.
Rusela is tall. The doorway is probably 5 feet high
We are sufficiently wiped out by 3:15 pm. A lunch of quinoa soup, wild sage tea, hard boiled egg, white rice and potato is served to us in our bedroom. Our mama tells us that her brother is ill with a leg infection. There is no medical service in the islands. One either gets well or dies.
At 4 pm we are summoned to move to the town center which is the school’s basketball court.
On the walls are the 3 commandments: do not lie, do not steal, do not be lazy.
Part of “do not be lazy”, is that we must hike up the hill to the Temple of the Sun. We originally balked at such an idea but now peer pressure is strong. So slowly we walk, up and up. It’s getting cooler, so I buy an alpaca sweater.
I showed the lady vendor my old 40 year old blue sweater in my backpack. She wants it for some reason, so I have to give it to her. Our guide, Marketa, at the top tells us to walk around the Sun Temple three times clockwise for the benefit of its magnetic field.
We watch the sunset and trudge back in the dark. We have headlamps so our way is illuminated. Dinner of vegetable stew is served in the kitchen at 7 pm.
Then we are costumed for the evening dance.
Rusela took a picture of mama dancing with me
The musicians passed a hat for a tip but unfortunately, we didn’t bring our wallets to the dance. After three dances, we are ready to go to bed. Our mama is starting to yawn so we figured it is safe to ask to go back. There are no dogs on the islands. Cats are kept to keep the grain vermin free. The island is surprisingly quiet. There are too many clouds to see a star filled sky through.
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