Sunday, September 29, 2013

Puno and Lake Titicaca

This past week our group had the wonderful opportunity to tour Puno and Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the whole world. Some of the first Incan civilizations were based around the lake for the obvious reason of fresh water. We boarded a boat early Saturday morning for a day long voyage on Lake Titicaca. The lake was a wonderful blue and since it's always sunny in Peru, the sun added for a nice glimmer upon the lake's surface.

Our first stop was after a few hours on a small floating island. The island only had about 20-some inhabitants and was purely man-made. Long ago they discovered a root that could float and this root is used to hold up the entire island.  The island has to be reconstructed about every 3 months to ensure that no one falls through to a wet surprise. The main income of the people there is the tourism and most of their money is used to provide an education on the mainland for their children. Any extra money goes towards extra things like gasoline for fuel.

(above students sampling the reeds used to construct the island-but the white part is eaten by the people as well- there were mixed reactions)

(some students took a boat ride constructed by the island people)

The native children are so cute! (And so is Anna!)

Our next stop was a REAL island. The village was nestled on top of quite a large hill that we had to hike to get to.  Atop the mini-mountain we toured the plaza of the village which included a small place to buy things made by artisans, a restaurant, a church and really not much else. The people here had a unique culture which majorly had to do with what they wore. All women wore shawls and if you were single the pom-pom on the end of your shawl was very big and colorful, if you were married then it was smaller, and if you were widowed there was no pom-pom.  The men wore caps of different color to indicate whether they were single or married. I suppose you wouldn't waste any time flirting with someone who is taken in this society. We took a different way down to the boat which was somehow more beautiful than our journey up, but the natural steps were VERY steep!

That night we went into the village of Puno and enjoyed a nice birthday dinner for Neal where he even got to perform with the dancers that put on a show for us! Along with Neal's spectacular Dutch dancing we saw some traditional dancing.

The next day we had some free time in the village near our hotel where there were more artisans-which we always seem to take full advantage of. We may be Dutch, but these Peruvian women sure do have a way of making us spend! (Maybe that's just me.)

After a nice lunch we boarded the bus which took us to yet another lookout point over the city where there was a slide! Some of us were a little apprehensive since it appeared concrete but we're only in Peru once right!?! So all participated with success and some dirty butts since not all landings were completely smooth. The local people got quite a kick out of us.

Lori and Hannah weren't so lucky to land on their feet.

Our last stop for the trip was to a place that had a lot of chulpas, ancient tombs. While most of them were weathered away, there were several still standing in great shape. The rocks there were really incredible as they were huge, rectangular, volcanic and Andesite. The ancient people had to have carried them all the way up the mountain which must have taken a great amount of man power. It was incredible.

-Megan Rozeveld (And photo credits to Neal Bierling, Michael Jadrich, Emily Strikwerda and myself)

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