Friday, May 29, 2009

Peru Bound: Puno and Lake Titicaca

After exploring the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca, it was time to bid Bolivia goodbye. We boarded a bus that took the road up the south and west side of the lake to a town called Puno: our first stop in Peru. So far, Peru looks a lot like Bolivia. Women wander the streets in their multi-layered skirts and boler hats and handicrafts made of alpaca wool are sold everywhere.

From the port of Puno we took a little boat trip out to the floating islands of the Uros people. The islands are built using layers of buoyant totora reeds that grow in the shallows of the lake. The reeds are used to make their homes, boats, and crafts. The island reeds are constantly replenished from the top. In the wet season they replenish once per month and in the dry season (now) it is only necessary to do so every 2-3 months. Below is a model of a island village that our hosts built to show us how the islands and buildings are made.

We made our way through a river of the reeds to the group of 45 separate islands on the edge of the Puno Bay. Each island houses 5-8 families of 4 or 5 people each. They have houses and cooking spaces, and kitchen huts. They catch several different species of fish (including lake trout introduced from Canada!) for their own diet and to sell at the Saturday market in Puno. Tourism is also a necessary component to their survival and they warmely welcomed us to their island to show us thier way of life, clothes, and crafts.
This is the kitchen for the island we visited:

Some fish out drying so that they can take them into town to sell at the Saturday market:

The women of the island we visited signing us a departure song in the local language, Q´uechua

Boats made of reeds and shaped like pumas:

Peru Fun Fact:
At our first meal in Peru we noticed something noteworthy on the menu: the local specialty of cuy (guinea pig). We´ll let you know if we decide we are brave enough to try it!

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