Lake Titikaka, Peru
Spent the day yesterday on Lake Titicaca. We were taken from our hotel in Puno to the Lake by Tuc Tuc early in the morning where we met Carlos (our guide).
Our first stop was Isla Taquile, where we learnt all about the traditional weaving and garments that everyone wears there. The men had different woven hats - they were completely patterened if they were married, but only half patterned if they were single. They had these beautiful brightly coloured bags with pom poms at the end! They carry these all the time and fill their bags with coca leaves which they exchange with other men when they greet each other good morning. The women also knit beautiful belts for the men. They are so thick they they also act as a back brace. There are different pictures in the belt to represent times in their life together - when they met, getting married etc. It´s liek a male charm bracelet! A women will make several of these for her husband since there will be many different events in their lives together, so she has to keep updating them. As for the women, things are a bit less obvious. All we saw was that they wore black shawls with pom poms at the end - the bigger pom poms are for single girls to attract the boys! The single girls also wear brighter skirts too - again to attract the boys. All the people on the island still wore their traditional clothes, it was very cute! The men looked like little dwarves in their hats! It was so quaint - I couldn´t ever imaging dresing according to your marital status at home!
After lunch on the island the water looked so beautiful, but it was clear that there was a storm coming in - just like the day before at Puno. Luckily we avoided the rain and went straight to our homestay families.
When we arrived at the island all the families were there to greet us in Armaya (their local language. Kamisaraky = hello and how are you. Waliki = I´m well). There was also the local band there to greet us! The first thing we did was have a football tournament - the locals against the tourists! Naturally the tourists struggled a bit with the altitude and let in a few goals too many, however we ended up winning on the golden goal rule!
After that we went back to our family houses. I stayed with a mother called Juana and her son called Jose. The Dad (also Jose) was not well so I did not see him apart from in the field, working, this morning. Jose played (and cheated) at uno with Therese and I for a few hours before dinner. Our room was simple but nice - there were two beds and electricity. The walls were bare but painted. We chose to eat in the family kitchen for dinner. That was quite the opposite of our room. There was a bed covered up to sit on, and a small gas cooker in one corner where Juana was cooking. The walls were so bare it was depressing - all they had was a little Canadian flag that previous tourists had left as gifts for them. We gave them our fruit, tuna and rice that we had bought at the market the day before as gifts for them. Juana then served up some dinner - no worries for vegetarians as the people on the island only eat meat on very special occassions. We had traditional soup, followed by rice and potatoes.
After dinner we were dressed up in local costumes to go for a dance. The secret to the women keeping warm is clearly the number of skirts they wear on top of each otehr - I had five skirts on! I think you wear more with age, as Juana wore seven. In the town hall we danced with the locals - it was lovely to see teh layers in the skirts as we twirled!
The following morning we had some dry bread for breakfast before saying good bye to ou families. Jose went to school before we left but he came to say goodbye. We signed his little guestbook which he took great pride over.
From ehre we went to visit the floating islands. These are islands on the lake completely made entirely by floating reed anchored to the bottom. Everything from teh houses to the fire is made with the reed - it was very beautiful. We stayed at an island and learnt about how they make their communities before a ´make your own sandwich´lunch on the boat back to Puno.
Back in Puno this afternoon and head to Bolivia early tomorrow. Leave at 7:10am.