|Sonesta Posada del Inca Hotel|
|Yavari boat behind the hotel|
We headed out through a channel between tall totora reeds.
We chugged along, passed a checkpoint of sorts with a lookout tower, and headed out to the Uros Islands.
|Winay Totora island|
|Pulling in our boat|
|Totora reed with root base|
Layers of reeds are laid across the multi-block island, alternating directions.
|Demonstrating alternation of layers of reeds|
|Add houses and people and you have a floating island home|
We were shown inside one house, and found the people had extended the wiring to power radios, televisions, and computers.
|Inside a house|
Some of the women put traditional dress items on Brynne, Jan and me, with an ample skirt tied around our waists, a bolero jacket put over our shoulders, and big tassels thrown around our necks.
|Brynne and Tamiko with traditional dress items|
|Brynne, a local, Tamiko|
|Brynne and Jan|
On the back of the island, they had their souvenir stands set up. But also small enclosures for domesticated ducks, ibis, and guinea pigs.
|Totora reed canoe|
|Going for a reed boat ride|
|Kirby tries a fist bump|
|Local's newer boat|
|Sorting and drying fish|
Oh, yes, bathrooms! The Uros people believe in the medicinal value of urine, and it seems urinating into the lake is okay. But for any other business, they have a separate outhouse island for just that purpose. You have to take a boat to go to the outhouse, which has lime sprinkled on it, so that it and the totora root system can take care of things. The bathroom on the boat had a window on the door to look out to see where you have been! Fortunately the boat’s second mate, always moved from his seat behind the bathroom to the other side when you were using the toilet. He also took a big plastic can and filled it with water from over the side, and when you were done, you used the water to flush the toilet. Now this toilet was only for number 1 and not number 2.
Back on the tourist boat, we had two and a half hours to get to Taquile Island, which was out beyond two points of land that put the Uros Islands in a bay of the lake. Once out in the greater part of the lake, you could see the snow-capped mountains of the Royal Mountains in Bolivia. Part of Lake Titicaca is in Bolivia, but we weren’t anywhere close. Our little old Dodge or Chevy car engine from the 60’s or 70’s wasn’t going to get us to Bolivia.
Mayro entertained us with stories during our journey. He was always laughing. But he may have confused things a little. For one, he told us that Thor Heyerdahl came to this area to have the Kon-tiki built, and then he sailed from Lima to the Polynesian Islands to show that it could be done. We were a little confused, thinking that sailing from Lima to the Polynesian Islands did not prove that Polynesians could have sailed to South America. But, it does seem Heyerdahl was proving that South Americans did sail to the Polynesian Islands using the Humboldt Current in pre-Columbian times and settled there. Although the present-day Polynesians did not descend from South Americans, it seems there was a race of “long-eared” people who were killed off by the “short-eared” people. The “long-eared” people could have been descended from South Americans. And Heyerdahl did have the Kon-Tiki built in Peru, but on the coast. It was a raft of balsa logs with a mahogany mast. Bamboo was also used. He sailed the Kon-Tiki successfully in 1947. The Kon-Tiki name is the old name of the creator god, Viracocha.
However, when Heyerdahl built the Ra from papyrus to sail from Africa across the Atlantic Ocean on the Canary Current to Barbados, it took on water after the crew made some adjustments and had to be abandoned. He then came to Lake Titicaca to have Ra II made from the totora reeds. This ship successfully made the trip from Morocco to Barbados. Heyerdahl was mainly trying to prove the seaworthiness of such boats, rather than that the Egyptians traveled to the New World.
Taquile Island is one of the natural islands (of maybe a dozen) in Lake Titicaca. It was used as a prison by the Spanish, and only became totally the property of the Taquile people in 1970. The people speak Quechuan, while Aymara is spoken on the other islands. The island has been inhabited for 10,000 years, and was part of the Inca empire as seen by the agricultural terracing. There is no electricity, no cars, and no dogs. (Although there are generators, solar panels are favored as an energy source.) The people of Taquile continue to wear traditional dress as a daily habit, and make their own textiles. The women wear layered skirts (up to 16) with a black shawl. The men wear embroidered woven waistbands (fajas) and wool stocking caps. The caps indicate marital status (red for married, and red and white for bachelors), and leaders wear black. The men do most of the knitting, while the women do the weaving.
Saw laundry laid out to dry on rocks by the shore.
|Kirby & Jan, Tamiko, Brynne|
Brynne and I started down the steps to the boat. We had climbed another 138 m/ 453 feet to the 3950 m/12,959 feet elevation of the town. So now we had to go back down on the stone-paved path that was none too smooth. The others caught up to us.
|Our tourist boat|
We had some excitement as we neared Puno, because the boat crew spotted the Coast Guard. We quickly had to don life jackets. The Coast Guard boat was tied up with another boat on one side, but they waved us around to the other. A couple uniformed guys came on our boat, checked out some papers, answered a cell phone call, and then we were on our way.
|Brynne with life jacket|
We had the hotel call us a taxi and by 7:30 PM we were on our way to downtown Puno. We were dropped off in the main plaza and charged 7 Soles. The driver gave us his card with a number to call for our return. As we walked down Avenida de Lima, we shopped for souvenirs. Kirby was looking for his Pucara toritos, and Brynne needed just a few small things. Brynne was getting roped in by young men standing outside Giorgio’s Restaurant, where we were going anyway, but we were still shopping. Then Brynne and I went in to get a table while Jan and Kirby kept shopping. We were still waiting for them to clean a table when Jan and Kirby arrived. We were put in a back waiting area, with displays of hats, ceramics, and musical instruments. Finally we were shown to a table in the front of the restaurant. Brynne tried to get the fettucini alfredo with regular ham instead of the alpaca ham, but despite several people trying to understand English, she ended up with no ham.
As we waited for dinner to be served, Kirby ran out to check more souvenir shops. And he ran out again to make his purchase of a pair of Pucara toritos. The young man at the door had his head whirling watching Kirby come and go.
There was also a young girl in somewhat traditional dress (the skirt was very short!) who seemed to take turns being hostess with the young men.
She later came around to ask if we wanted to hear a live band, after we had been asked if we want to hear Andean music. Well, we had heard a band before, so said “No”. She seemed a bit taken aback, but why was she asking? A live band did come in to entertain, and they were the same band as the night before in the Pizzeria. We enjoyed their music, nevertheless, and they were probably the best band we had heard in Peru. But we were not going to buy another music CD!
|Hostess and band|
This rarefied air was giving us dry noses and throats.
Next: Day 15 Sillustani.