Up bright and early, I was picked up to head to the port to catch our boat. Our first stop on Lake Titicaca was the Uros Islands. When the Spanish invaded Peru, the people living around the lake ran away on their reed boats to avoid slavery. A group of 4 or 5 families came together in the lake and made their boats in to one big platform – the foundation for the first reed island on Lake Titicaca. The Islands and boats only last about a year, so the people are constantly working at making new islands, new homes, and new boats. Walking on the islands was very interesting, and felt a lot like a firm water bed.
Next stop was Amantani Island. Amantani Island is the 2nd largest island in Lake Titicaca. We were introduced to our host families for the night, my host was named Nicolas, and we headed up a steep trail to our homes. After a lunch of quinoa soup, veggies, and mint tea our group took a hike to the top of the island to visit their ceremonial sites Pachatata (father earth) and Pachamama (mother earth) at about 4,500 meters above sea level. Unfortunately, I got another wind of altitude sickness and was freezing, so I came down early. I took a quick nap, and then had a dinner of vegetable soup, rice, veggies, and mint tea. The other traveler I was staying with, Ann from Los Angeles, awed our hosts with dates, a tangerine, a banana, and her iPhone – quite an interesting experience. That night we were dressed in the local garb and went to their night festival. I still wasn’t feeling too hot and my colorful belt was tied more like a corset, so I spent most my night on the sidelines chatting with some of the local men – they loved me haha. The one thing that blew me away about my night on Amantani was the moon and the stars. There is electricity, but no one really uses it so the island was completely dark, making the stars practically jump out at you. The moon was also huge and bright this night. Jaw dropping views.
As was Puno, Amantani Island was freezing at night, and I didn’t get much sleep. After a series of 5 or 6 naps and a rough attempt to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, I was back up and dressed at 6:30am!
We were given some warm water to wash our faces and some hot pancakes with coca tea for breakfast and then we were off to Taquile Island. Taquile Island is the 3rd largest Island in Lake Titicaca. One of the first things we learned was that if a man is wearing a red and white hat, he’s single. If he’s wearing a red and white hat with a big, colorful pom-pom on the end, hes single and looking. If the pom-pom is small, he’s living with the woman he’s interested in marrying. If he’s wearing a completely red hat, he’s married. If a woman is wearing a black shawl with embroidered flowers, shes married. If the shawl has colorful pom-poms on the end she is single and looking. Instead of wedding rings, the woman weaves a belt for her husband with her own hair.Very interesting culture. We took a long hike to the island center and had a lunch of fresh trout and quinoa soup, and then headed back to Puno.