In Puno, I had brunch w/ a British couple I met, Aisling & Gavin, then took a 2pm tour to the Incan and pre-Incan funerary site called Sillustani. We learned about the 3 kinds of tombs found there. From 500AD - 1100AD were the Tiwanaku that made underground graves burying their dead in the fetal position. 1100AD - 1440AD were the Chollas who made circular towers up to 9feet big w/ doors always facing the east. From 1440 - 1534 when the Spanish came, the Incas built much larger towers from square rocks instead of the small round stones the Cholla used. Their doors also faced east. We also saw the Incan temples of the sun (bigger) and the moon (smaller). They were open circles w/ no roofs & 3 steps leading up to them representing the 3 worlds - condor, puma, and snake. In the temples they performed the funeral ceremony before the burial. The sun represented man and the moon, woman (for its 28 day cycle like women's menstruation). For them everything is duality. We walked up and over to the other side of the peninsula and saw the beautiful lake w/ an island in the middle where they raise 75 wild vincuña. After Sillustani we stopped at a typical house where they had both llamas & alpacas so I could finally see the difference between them - llamas have less hair on their faces and their legs. Alpacas have hairy faces and much hairier legs. Inside, they showed us that they eat clay - mixed w/ water and made into a sauce to put on potatoes. It was pretty good! We also saw them grinding quinoa into flour, using the traditional tools for agriculture, spinning wool into yarn & weaving a rug. It was quite fascinating! I also took pics of the 2 bulls they use for protection on top of the houses & the doorways - even on top of the guinea pig house! They had tires on the roof as well to protect the houses from lightning.
Day 2 in Puno I visited 2 of the over 60 floating islands of Uros (Titino Manco Capac and Titino (Balsero)) as well as the regular Island of Taquile - all on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca. The guide told us all about the island people and their customs. The floating totora islands required a lot of work. The people have to tie them down to anchor them and during winter storms the waves can get 2-6m tall and the people have to go out into the freezing water and work together to retie the anchors. Also they need to keep replacing the top layer of totora every 2 weeks so that the humidity doesn't get bad and parasites don't get in. Also, until their kids go to school they don't need money. They trade everything they need. In order to send their kids to school (buy notebooks, uniforms etc.) they sold handicrafts for money. We had bought some pencils for the kids & gave them to the president to distribute among the 8 families. We saw the organic mini corn & mini potatoes that they get from the countryside and also the fish that they catch & eat. We then took a totora boat to the second island for a bit. From there we got back on the regular boat to Isla Taquile. Before arriving, our guide gave us more info - she told us about the belts that the women wove for their husbands that were like little diaries of their lives - every time they had a baby or got new animals etc… There is also a special hat that men wear when they are single or married. The women always wear their hair long in braids - the longer and thicker the braid the more beautiful. They finally cut some of their hair for their husband when they get married and weave it into a belt for him. Also the babies have different hats for boys and girls because they don't cut their hair for the first time until they are 3 or 4 and then they have a special party for them. They braid the hair and each guest cuts a braid and gives the child a gift - they are the first possessions the child receives. Also the men use these embroidered purses to carry coca leaves. Instead of shaking hands they exchange coca leaves to great each other. When we got to the island we had lunch at a family house for 18S - quinoa soup and really great white trout. We also had a great special herb mint tea. Before the meal they did a couple of traditional dances for us - a sowing dance & a love dance. When we got to the main plaza they had a huge textile market. I also got to film them eating the traditional mini corn, fava beans, & oca as well as buy a traditional Andean hat.