From Puno to the Uros islands

From Puno to the Uros islands
Chucuito, Peru

Chucuito, Peru

We slept at 12500 feet in altitude in a hotel in Puno . After our breakfast at the hotel a bus took us to the small port of lake Titicaca. There are 93 Uros islands and they have a mayor for each island. They use solar power, they have schools and hospitals. We boarded a speedboat with a bit of entertainment on board. The first Uros island we visited is inhabited by 5 families or 15 people and the oldest person is 95. It is now rare to live that life span. Today people live up to 60 year old because they suffer from rheumatism being that he island is build on water and is anchored. The top soil is straw and you can feel the dampness just walking for a few minutes. Juan Carlos, our guide was eloquent in explaining how the islands are built. Their houses are also made of straw- their communal kitchen is in a tepee and they cook on a stone stove. We toured this part of the lake on their unusual two story yellow rowing boats made of straw with their kids. Their diet consist of a lot of fish, flour, cheese and pasta. People are sort of heavy here. A lot of the small kids eat junk food like chips and candies that is probably brought to the island by tourists. Each island is visited once a week by tourists, it helps sustain them. Each island has a life span of 30 years then it sinks and the community; men, women,children build a new island. They all wear their traditional colorful clothes and the woman make tapestry and jewelry. Most of us supported their work and bought a few pieces. The second island we stopped at was the snack island, we didn’t stay long. Our next stop is the island of Amaranti where 4 to 5 people of our group ate assigned to a family. Amaranti is an island of about 6 sq miles with 2500 inhabitants. Jody Kate Sig Denise and me are assigned to Simon and Paula’s house on top of the hill overlooking the lake which looks like an ocean. Jody Kate and I shared the upstairs room; a very basic accommodation but we have tons of blankets. Everyone in this island works together to either build homes- trade food or farm- the air is crisp and clean, the people are extremely welcoming and there is a sense of simplicity and peace here. We were to have the next 3 meals with our hosts. My rusty Spanish was quite helpful in communicating with the family. Simon was all too happy to show off his English with us! The meals were basic, it included lots of potatoes, their diet is heavy in gluten. At about three we met our group and were introduced to the mayor, Our guide Jose Carlos explained how their traditional clothes are made, the women sow the clothes and the men designed and sow the embroidery on them; rather unusual! We then walked to the top of the mountain And waited for the sunset, we were on a peninsula, there was a magnificent view of both sides of the lake with huge mountains covered in snow on the Bolivia side. Near the top there was an open roof coffee shop, so we all had hot chocolate and Picarones or Peruvian donut sprinkled with fig honey; mmmm delicious! There is nothing like dessert before dinner! We walked down to our house as the evening was setting in and the stars and Milky Way became more pronounced. The family made us a simple dinner consisting of barley and potato soup as well as Mac n Cheese with rice; sustainable meal enough after this long walk. Then Simon came up with traditional costumes and actually dressed the three of us. I think he really enjoyed that part! it was so cold that we had to keep our warm layers underneath the blankets. Sig slept and Denise wore the male pancho. As in a procession we proceeded to walk single file to the dance hall. A 4 people local band sang local music and played different instrument for us, they even slipped a La Bamba. We had a great time joining in the traditional dance which is like group dancing. Back to our accommodations, we all just laughed about everything, we were simply exhausted. Another jam packed day and I would say a deep culture immersion of their simple lives.

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