Monday, June 23, 2008

This DEFINITELY WAS an adventure!

This weekend, I went to a place called Lake Titicaca with five other friends from here. We decided last minute to go and booked the trip on Wednesday through a travel agency we found off of the Plaza. For more information about Lake Titicaca, check out the always reliable Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Titicaca).

Our bus left Cuzco at 10:00 Friday night. We had been told that our seats would recline into beds but when we boarded the bus they barely moved. It was a pretty uncomfortable trip. Trying to sleep on buses is hard enough but it was also very cold too. Not a good set of circumstances.
Me and Heidi
(Heidi lives in the same homestay as I do)

Caroline and Regan
(Caroline and Regan were picked up at the airport the same time I was)


Jenae and Katie
(Jenae and Katie have Spanish classes together. Jenae also lives at the same homestay as Regan and Caroline and Katie is my friend from Whitewater)

We arrived in Puno at 5:30. A guide met us at the bus station. We had been told that he was going to take us to his warm office so we could wait there until our tour started at 8. Instead, he brought us up to a food court/restaurant in the bus station and told us he would return at 7:30. We waited it out and watched the sunrise over the Lake. The bus station, like everything else in Peru, wasn´t heated and we were all very cold. When our guide finally did return he brought us outside so we could wait in the sun instead.


Waiting for our guide to return...


We finally left for our tour around 8. Our guide brought us down to where all of the boats were and we were able to find ours without much of a problem We boarded the boat and were off.



Leaving Puno



Our first stop was a group of islands called Uros. The Uros islands are man made and are built using natural materials. They are called ¨Floating Islands¨ because the people who live on them are able to unanchor them if they need to and move them to a different part of the lake. On Uros we were given a brief demonstration by the mayor of the island about how the islands were built and about what the people on the islands ate (fish and reeds). Afterwards, we were given tours of some houses on the islands and were able to just walk around.


A model of the Uros islands. The brown foundation is made from a plant that the people grow and then multiple blocks of it are anchored together. Reeds are placed on top and then the people build their houses on top of the reeds.

A traditional style house. Everything is made out of reeds!



After wandering around the island for awhile we took a reed boat to another island in the Uros area. The new one was more developed and had a hotel, grocery store, restaurant and church.



The grocery store



Our boat


We left Uros and boarded our boat again. We knew we were headed out to Amantani but were unsure of how long it would take to get there. Heidi, Katie, and I decided to go on top of the boat for the trip in order to get the best views. The trip seemed to stretch on forever and after awhile we were all thinking about Giligan and his three hour tour. We finally spotted land again after what seemed like forever.



The second island: Amantani


Amantani was gorgeous and probably one of the most beautiful places I have ever been too. The whole island is terraced to allow the people to grow their own food and use every bit of land possible. Cows, horses, and sheep just wander around the island, going wherever they can find grass and water.

We spent the evening on Amantani and had most of the afternoon to wander around. After we were settled into our house, I decided to sit outside and read for while. It was really nice to relax by myself for awhile and it reminded me of the hours spent reading by the lake up north. It was nice to be somewhere so quiet after spending time in Cuzco where car horns are used liberally. Since there are no cars on any of the islands I visited, it was very peaceful.


Lunch on Saturday. Potatoes, more potatoes, and cheese.

Amantani

After the sunset on Saturday, Caroline, Jenae, Regan and I walked to the main Plaza on Amantani. It was dark by the time we got there and I´m suprised none of us were seriously injured while wandering down the rocky path. The Plaza was nice but nothing too remarkable. We met up with Katie and Heidi and walked back to our houses with the help of my homestay brother and a flashlight.

While waiting for supper, I went outside to look at the stars. It was absolutely amazing and awe-inspiring. Since there is very little electricity on the island it was very dark outside and you were able to see so many stars. If nothing else, that time made the whole trip worth it.

After supper, our homestay mom came in and gave us ponchos to put on. We were then brought to a party that was being held for the tourists. The other girls were all dressed up in traditional dresses but our group had been given ponchos... they were really warm so we didn´t complain. The party wasn´t too exciting but the music was very pretty. It was being played by some young boys who lived on the island.

The next morning we left at 8 to go to another island, Taquile. When we arrived, we took a hike on some long winding paths and finally arrived at the main plaza. There we were able to do some shopping and enjoy the views of the lake. After our time at the Plaza, we took another hike to a restaurant that overlooked the lake. Everyone in my group was feeling to cheap to pay for two meals in one day, so we enjoyed the views and waited for everyone else to finish.

One of the paths we hiked on. The paths on Amantani were alot like this also.

Once everyone was done eating, we hiked back down to where our boat was waiting for us. We boarded the boat and settled in for the long trip back. The ride back to Puno was more enjoyable, probably becuase I had found a spot outside that I could sit without being hit by the wind. I passed the time reading and enjoying the views.

When we arrived back in Puno, one of the girls in our group began complaining about not feeling well. We walked back to the bus station and picked up our tickets for our return trip home. While I got the tickets, Caroline and Regan helped Jenae find a room she could rent for a few hours and take a nap. Then, since our bus did not leave for a few hours, the five of us went for a walk around Puno looking for a place to have supper. We eventually found a really nice restaurant and had a good meal.

When we arrived back at the bus statoin, Jenae still was not feeling better and Regan was beginning to feel sick as well. Thankfully, we were able to board our bus and everyone was able to sit down and relax. The buses we took were double decker and on the way home Heidi and I lucked out and were assigned the seats in the front. Not only did we get some good views before it became too dark but I was also able to stretch out my legs.

The ride home was cold, uncomfortable, and noisy. We seemed to make a lot of random stops that lasted for a long time. At one point, we were stopped for over an hour. We finally arrived back in Cuzco at 4:30 in the morning! We happily found a cab, paid too much for the short ride home, and stumbled sleepily into our beds.

I have so many more pictures I wish I could put on here but the internet is just running way too slow. I guess you may need to wait until I get home to see how gorgeous Lake Titicaca was.

Today and tomorrow are national holidays in Peru, filled with parades and general craziness. My next post will have to be about all of the Inti Raymi festivities that have been going on for the past week.

More later...


2 comments:

Becky said...

Floating islands that can move, huh? Sounds a little LOST-ish to me. Were you on the look out for polar bears? (or Benjamin)

Love you Bethy!!

Ha, and I just noticed the WeBOP quote in the title of this post. very nice. :)

Caitlin said...

it IS like lost ... amazing!