As promised last week when I told you about my adventures in hospital Goyeneche and Colca Canyon, today I’ll be discussing another excursion we did. Colca Canyon was the last excursion we did before catching the plane back to Europe *sad face*. But what about our two other adventurous journeys?
Well, our very first weekend trip, right after Spanish class, was one to ice cold Puno. A particularly poor and everything but beautiful town, about 6 hours away by bus from our safe haven in Arequipa. My friends and me met a Dutch girl that was also staying at our house and doing the internship, and we got along very well. So that’s why she hopped on the night bus to Puno, together with the rest of us. The set-up of this nocturne: visiting the famous Titicaca lake, the great water between Peru and Bolivia. Because in contrast to the town that it surrounds, the lake is beyond any kind of beautiful I’ve ever seen, without exaggerating!
Since our boat tour started at 7 in the morning, but our bus arrived at the terminal at 4 am already, we were ought to kill three horrendous hours of time. We found no better solution than just lying on the ground and trying to sleep, wrapped up in thick hiking jackets and blankets, waiting for the minutes to pass. God, I can’t even describe how cold we were back then! It’s the only bummer of the trip I can come up with. Anyway, having experienced it first-hand, we now know what it is to be homeless. Let’s conclude that it pretty sucks. Luckily, once we got on the boat and got a glimpse of the lake, we forgot about our cold terminal floor goosebumps and enjoyed our little get-away for the rest of the weekend.
Our first pitstop was the floating island of Uros, where people actually live. They wear traditional, colorful clothing and have solar panels to provide them of light in their cabins. You’d think they must be real primitives but I’m sure they must know a lot of ‘the mainland out there’, since their biggest source of income is tourism. We were approached by some cute kids to show us the handmade carpets, bracelets and all kinds of textiles, hoping that we were potential buyers. I really loved to see how these people sort things out their way. Afterwards we took a ride on some sort of banana shaped boat and set sail to the next island where we would stay until the next day: Amantani.
Amantani wasn’t floating at all, it was a mainstream island. But not the boring kind of mainstream you’d expect! We introduced ourselves to a local woman who would lead us to her house, where we would spend the night with her family. She made the most delicious quinoa soup (they grow quinoa here!) for us so we would regain forces for our next task: hiking up the hill all the way to Pachatata temple, or in more understandable means ‘temple of Father Earth’.
And that was way harder than I initially thought it would be. Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake with a surface height of almost 4000 meters. I think it didn’t even took a minute for the dyspnea to kick in while we were marching uphill. The thin air caused our longs to hurt with every breath and our hearts beated terrifyingly fast with the slightest effort. Just chewing some coca leaves (they serve for better tolerating the height and getting energy) wouldn’t help us now. We fought our exhaustion and were so proud when we finally reached the top. Together we watched the most beautiful sunset ever at the temple’s foot and went all the way down to our repective families to enjoy dinner. One of the things about Peru that struck me the most is that how poor the people may be, they will always stay generous and share everything with you. I only realised this the moment we got a double bed for each of us while the family members themselves slept in a tiny room all together. Also at the dining table, they offered us their chairs and table while they chose to eat on wooden blocks on the ground.
The next morning we said goodbye to our host family and continued our journey to the last island, Taquile. After again, a little hike, we visited a UNESCO world heritage market and had rainbow trout for lunch with the most amazing view. An old Peruvian man took advantage of the opportunity to play some tunes on his banjo and to demonstrate how the locals make ecological shampoo from plants. We had so much fun, but unfortunately all good things come to an end. It was time to go home to Arequipa!
So guys, enjoy the pictures I made on this one of a kind trip! They are -apart from those I took at Machu Picchu and the way to it- my favorites from the Peru collection. Have you already been to Lago Titicaca? I’d love to share experiences.