Waking up in Puno – this is the view from our window. If you look high to the right on the hill you will see a statue. This is a statue of a condor. The condor is part of the Incan trinity: Condor, Puma, Snake. In these three animals, sky, earth, and the underworld are represented. Condor, we would learn, is the only bird strong enough to fly up to the heavens and deliver messages to God. Puma has patience and strength. The snake travels to the underworld, and when it sheds its skin, is reborn, transformed. All part of the circle of life. We would experience this belief throughout our trip in-scripted in ancient sites, textiles, and modern symbols.
Today we met our guide José. He will be the guide for our Lake Titicaca adventure and we headed to the docks. We were told to buy some gifts of rice, oil and fruit for our family hosts where we will be staying tonight on the Island of Amantani.
It was – again – a beautiful day and we had our own boat, traveling through the reeds towards the Uros Islands.
These islands are man/women made from the surrounding reeds and can each hold around 25 people or a few families. There are about 85 floating islands with approximately 2000 inhabitants.
It was not until the 90s that the island people allowed tourists to stop at their island. They have since embraced tourism but in their own way. The entire community shares the responsibility dividing the days that tourists can stop among them.
We were shown how the islands are made and how the people lived on these islands.
A very cold ride on a Kon-Tiki boat compliments of Rick and we were back on the boat for a 2/12 hour ride around the peninsula of Capachica and to the isle of Amantani.
On Amantani, we were met by our host families – our mama’s and papa’s for our overnight stay. Names were called and I had the honor of joining Matt and Char to stay with a family.
Our family of fourThe family speaks Quechua and understands a little Spanish and no English – which proved to be a challenge to communicate but there is always the universal language of charades and children.
We were served lunch in their kitchen of potato soup, okra, tomatoes and fried cheese. After lunch the three of us met up with the rest of our group to learn about the daily life of these farmers. Life has not changed very much over the 100’s and 100’s of years that these people have lived here. They still were traditional garb and are self sustaining. There are six communities on the island and a school. To our way of life it is very primitive but who is to say?
There was another amazing experience waiting for us after dinner. We were dressed up in traditional dress and met in the community center for a good ole neighborhood dance.
At over 13,000 feet just walking up to the center was a challenge much less dancing. We all had a great time dancing together and with our host Mamas.
It was very cold at night probably in the 30s and no heating in the homes. But they piled on at least five alpaca blankets on top of our beds that kept us warm.