Waking at 5am seems to be a theme on this trip, and again I woke early…. this time due to the intense heat being provided in my sauna/hotel room. After a quick shower, I headed down for breakfast and had french toast, yoghurt and papaya juice.
We all met early and at 7:15 started our trip to Lake Titicaca with a ride on some local cycle taxis to the ferry.
After a hair raising race through the city we arrived at the port and boarded a boat. We were using a commercial tour company for this day, so Harold introduced us to “Clever”, our tour operator, who was guiding us for the day. The boat would visit two islands – first Taquile, which is a “real” island, and then on to the floating islands later in the day.
The ride to Taquile took about an hour and Clever gave us a rundown on the life of the lake – it’s the “highest navigable lake in the world”, at 3800m and big enough that some pretty large boats ferry around people and goods from Peru to Bolivia and back.
Once we arrived at Taquile we had a short hike across the island to see how life is living in the middle of the lake. For a lot of the people on the group tour, this was a real challenge but for all of us who had just finished the Inca Trail, this was a walk in the park, and we steamed ahead!
We visited another weaving project, this one based on the island, and were shown a lot of the same techniques as were demonstrated back in the Planeterra project. Harold found me a “single” lady (you can tell by the big pompoms on her dress, apparently) and insisted we should have photos together. She fitted me with the customary “single guys” hat, so we would match. Awkward photo below.
After we finished our shopping (of course the weavers tried to sell us everything), we headed to a nearby beach for a 25 minute relax before our boat continued its tour. Our group made the most of that time, and Steffi and Mike actually went for a swim in the lake. The rest of us just paddled.
Next we re-boarded the boat and sailed back to the mainland for lunch. We docked at a peninsula on the mainland and were greeted by a shaman who took us through a traditional food blessing ceremony. Our food was buried in the ground and had been cooking for 45 minutes under ground, and after some ceremonial blessings it was dug up for us to feast on.
Lunch was great, although they had to cook an omelette for me in the ‘real’ kitchen since they hadn’t arranged anything specific for a vegetarian in the underground oven. I still ate the potatoes, beans and sweet potato from the ground and it was great to try something cooked so traditionally. The rest of the group ate trout (caught from the lake) and chicken (not caught from the lake).
Once lunch was over and we were sated, we headed on a short boat ride over to the floating islands, or Uros.
The floating islands are made by constructing reeds from the lake into a weaved mesh and then placing them on top of one another, until they create a floating platform. They are anchored the same way a boat would anchor to the bottom of the lake, and people live there the whole year around. The lake reeds eventually rot away, so every week they need replenishing. It’s a fascinating way of life, and it was amazing and privileged to be able to walk around and meet these people. The build EVERYTHING out of reeds, including their houses, boats, seats, and beds. We were greeted by the residents when we arrived and given a speech by the leader of the island, before being given time to explore (and do shopping if we wished). There were piles of cheeky children on the island who enjoyed trying to steal our trinkets and climbing over our boat.
Once the tour of the island was complete, we headed back on the boat to the mainland and a quick bus tour back to our hotel. During the boat ride back we were given a cocktail of Pisco and Sprite which actually tasted great!
After returning we were given a bit of free time (what’s that?!) and Kirsten, Ruth and I headed towards the shops for some postcards and coffee. It was nice to relax and we reflected a lot on the past days, since this was our last day of planned adventure. I then settled back into my sauna/hotel room to write postcards for a little while, before meeting at 19:00 for dinner.
We were briefed on the plan for tomorrow before dinner, which involves a 6am departure since we have to catch a flight that leaves only once a day. We went for dinner to a pizzeria which mysteriously didn’t serve pizzas, so I ended up ordering lasagne. The rest of the group were feeling adventurous so they ordered a local speciality – Cuy! Cuy is the quetcha word for Guinea Pig, and is a special local delicacy. It was weird to see it presented on a plate, such a small animal, but the group tucked in and seemed to comment that it tasted okay, although as expected there wasn’t a lot of meat there!
After dinner, and a very strong Caprhinia, we went to a “Rock and Reggae” club next door for a few more cocktails. The club had a corner of artwork submitted by Gadventures groups, so we added our own little doodle to the wall in memory of our experience.
By 9:45 we were all sufficiently merry and having played even more Shithead in the bar, we retired to our saunas to be ready for the early start tomorrow.