We got up to 5:45 am to catch our tour that started at 7:00 am. Ouch! We were going on a boat tour on Lake Titicaca to go visit the floating islands of Los Uros and the island of Taquile. We were all feeling a bit off that morning from the altitude sickness, but Roger was hit a bit harder and did not have breakfast. He was not feeling so well on the boat and slept on the top deck for a bit and felt a bit better after that.
We had a tour giude that explained the history of the area which was great. Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable body of water in the world and is a very sacred lake in the Andes. The legend says that the Creator God Viracocha emerged from the lake. Also the Sun God and the moon had their children spring from the lake to create the city of Cusco and the Inca Dynasty. The name Lake Titicaca comes from ¨Titi¨which is the name of the puma of the Andes which is a sacred animal and ¨caca¨ means rock. The lake has the shape of a puma.
We first visited the floating islands of Los Uros which are made of reeds. Yes, they really do live in the middle of the lake and build their houses on reeds. It is really cool to see. We went on one island where the island president explained to us their lifestyle. He was a very funny guy. There is an estimated 40 floating islands which a total population of about 2000 people. They build every thing out of Totora reeds including the island itself, the houses, their boats, etc. They even eat a part of the reed. They have to redo the top of their island and the boats,etc. fairly often as the reeds does not last that long. It seems to be a lot of work. After the presentation from the President, we took a reed boat to another island which was also pretty cool.
After that we had a 2 1/2 hour boat ride to the Island of Taquille which is 45 km from Puno. The island is beautiful with numerous Inca terasses for agriculture. The only problems is that we had to climb to the top of the island which was about 200m high to bring us to 4000m. Let´s just say that with the altitude, it was nothing short of challenging! Poor little lungs! Anyway, almost at the top, we went to have lunch in a traditional house. They explained to us their lifestyles and the meaning of their clothing. The hats they wear tell you if a man is sinlge or married for example. Women cut their hair twice in their life. At the age of two, it is a big ceremony where the girls have many braids and she gets a present for every braid that´s cut. The second time is when a womam is in love. She cuts her hair and give it as a present to her future husband who weaves it into a belt that he will wear for the rest of his life. Isn´t that beautiful! In the belt, there is a second section that depicts the couples life. The woman weaves the second part of the belt every year or so which indicates with drawings were they live, how many children they have etc.
They then showed us some traditional dancing and Kevin and Marjorie got to join in! The lunch was great and the view amazing. We had Quinoa soup and grilled trout. After lunch, we thought we were feeling so much better until we had to climb a stiff hill to get back to the main path. That was hard! I know we sounds like sissys but it was! We then went to the main square, took in the atmosphere and started descending down huge steps to get back to the boat on the other side of the island. The scenery was georgeous.
We got back on the boat and made our way back to Puno. We hung out on the top deck and enjoyed the scenery. When we got back in town, we did a bit more shopping from the different ladies that set up their knitting on the streets. They sell all kinds of Alpaca products including Peruvian hats, mits, scarfs, etc… We then went for supper at a dinner type of place and it was great. The menu was so cheap at 10 soles (about $3.00) . It included a huge delicious soup, a main dish, a drink and a dessert. Marj and Kev had grilled Alpaca, it is really good. For dessert, Marj had a pancake with Doche de Leche or caramel – miam miam.
We went to bed fairly early as Kevin and Melissa were taking the bus to Cusco the next morning at 7 so they could get there on time for the conference. We decided to stay one more day in Puno.