Lake Titicaca

Lake titicaca

During our three days in the Lake Titcaca area we stayed two nights in Puno at The Hotel Qelqatani. As their website notes, we did have a memorable visit.

Although the hotel lacked central heating (remember it is winter there when it is summer in the northern hemisphere,) they did provide an adequate space heater. It was nice because it was charming- the mural on their dinning room wall is a work of folkart- and because it was only a couple of blocks from Calle de Lima, Puno's main shopping area, where we got some great bargains on alpaca sweaters. We never did eat at a polleria, which is the Peruvian equivalent of fast food; this owner has a sense of humor and marketing skills: Mcpollo

One of the highlights of our stay was the visit to the floating reed islands of Uros.

The people of Uros live on floating islands made of reeds (tortura reeds) that grow in the lake. They began to live on the reeds hundreds of years ago to try to stay away from the Collas and the Incas who came to dominate the area. The islands are made from layer upon layer of reeds. The reeds do rot away from the bottom, but are replaced from the top. It is unique to walk on one of these islands- the "ground"- it is soft and springy. But there's no sense that you might fall in! Surprisingly enough, they have electricity on some of the larger of these islands! From solar panels. Uros boats
Uros woman  The people make a living from selling crafts to tourists, fishing, and raising pigs that they sell in the market in Puno. The pigs live on floating islands too!
Textile This textile depicts Pachamama and Pachatata (Mother Earth and Father Earth) and the founding of Uros. The people settled on the reeds eons ago to avoid conflict with the local war-like Colla culture who were conquered by the Incas.
Traditionally, they used boats made of the reeds to get around. The boats look like a canoe and most have a figurehead of a puma. These boats are famous since they served as the inspiration and model for Thor Heyerdahl's Kon Tiki. This woman took us for a ride. Uros woman boat

The second night we stayed with an Aymara family on the island of Amantani. It was great we got to eat home cooked food and climb to the top of the island (the real high point of our trip at almost 14,000 feet!)

Amantani island

CornPeople make a living growing potatoes, corn, beans, chickens, sheep and by hosting tourists. Every family on the island that wants to takes turns hosting tourists; that way everybody gets some needed cash.
Although the altitude was something of a problem (you just have to go slow and take it easy and breath deeply), we enjoyed our stay. Here we have lunch; our hostess was a great cook: Lunch
Potato harvest On the way up the mountain, we got this picture of people harvesting potatoes. The Tiahuanaco ruins at the top pay tribute to Pachamama and Pachatata (Mother Earth and Father Earth.) Our guide Antonio, said that local people still pay homage to these spirits.

Our last day in the area, we visited the Cholla culture Chulpas, funeral towers, at Sillustani.

Funeral Tower

We flew from Juliaca to Lima via Arequipa. At the airport in Juliaca, we encountered another group of musicians playing for the tourists and selling CDs. We bought another CD. Muscians
Most of the internal flights were on one of Peru's three domestic airlines- AeroContinente; the flight from Juliaca to Lima was eventful. First when Antonio was helping us check in, the airline said they would take passengers but no bags! He had his tour company office call and persuade them to take us and our luggage. It runs out that this flight was a small plane and it had to go with a stop over in Arequipa. The runway in Areguipa is short and the company wasn't sure if the little plane could take off- planes need more runway at high altitude due to the lack of oxygen. When it stopped in Arequipa, it flew over the El Misti volcano, barely. Then airport security came on the plane and took everybody's carry on bags off and then returned them after about 15 min. We figured out that they had weighed the carry on to make sure the plane could take off OK. Then a few days later in Lima we read in the paper (in Spanish, I remember enough to get by) that executives at the company had been indicted for money laundering and the country of Chile had seized five planes! Plane

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