I somehow lost the Friday post so will try and recreate it today (Sun) on our 7 hour bus trek to Cusco. This trip just keeps getting better and better.
We left our hotel at 7:45 am via bicycle driven rick shaw type vehicles thru the heavily congested early morning streets of Puno. Miraculously we arrived at the dock of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigatable fresh water lake in the world at an altitude of 3,800 meters and covering 925 square kilometers.
We were transported on a 35 ft water taxi holding about 35 passengers with an outside up top viewing area to sit. Our trek to Uros, the man made floating island took about 30 minutes and although you could say it was a bit commercialized still gave me the feel of experiencing a radically different culture. The natives take the root of the reeds after harvest to create big blocks which are the base of each island and then cover the root base with layers of the reed creating a floating island. They use the reed to construct their homes, boats (which are quite elaborate)
And many items to sell to the tourists. We took a boat ride from one part of the island across to the capital area where Wayne had his passport stamped with the official Uros seal.
Off we went on the 3 hour trek to Amantani island where we are doing our overnight home stay. We got off the boat and our Mamas were waiting to take us home. There were 22 on the boat and our precious Lanah (23) met a gal from Sweden and they just hit it off and decided to room together on the island. The four of us along with a couple from Switzerland, a mother and daughter from Japan and Jose, a delightful young Peruvian man from a town above Cusco, were in the same. Our tiny little Mama, Inis, was an absolute delight. The challenging part for me was walking halfway uphill to her home. It was a bitch for me!!
We were given our rooms and Mama prepared us a lunch of quinoa vegetable soup which was very delicious and the next course was a plate of three different colored potatoes, some sweet potatoes and cucumbers and tomato. This was followed by a cup of herbal tea to help digestion and it was actually a great final finish. These Amantani people only eat natural foods and live on an average of 90 to 100 years or more. We had free time to wander and enjoy the beauty of the island. Mama had a donkey, an adorable little dog and a beautiful garden with the corn and potatoes popping up just enough to be easily identified and lots of flowers.
The young couple from Switzerland were on an endless trek abroad until their money runs out and Lauren only spoke French while Silvie spoke French, Spanish and English. They had been in Peru a while and having done the Machu Picchu hike Brazil was their next stop. The Japanese mother and daughter were at the end of their journey and would be heading back home. Jose an absolute delughtful young man was just on holiday and also off to Brazil next.
After a rest the group took off on a hike to the main plaza and then after meeting the rest of the people doing home stays they all hiked up to the top of the village to a sacred site where they did a ceramony which involved cocoa leaves to Pachi Mama (Mother Earth) and each person was able to make a wish to her with their offering of cocoa leaves. I could not do the hike as just getting to our home was a super challenge. Everyone else in our group had been having symptoms of altitude sickness but mine hit today with just slight nausea, aches and loss of appetite so I opted for a nap. Wayne, man in excellent condition, said the hike was quite challenging. Did I mention the bed was really comfortable!
Dinner that night started with a big bowl of creamy, I’m sure from a potato base, quinoa soup with carrots which was so satisfying. Then came a big plate of rice with veges and a mixture of multi colored pasta and different types of potatoes. Talk about carb overload but oh so yummy. Our handouts before going to Amantani had suggested bringing our Mamas a little present and Wayne and I had purchased multi colored pasta, rice and a big bottle of oil. Oh were we ever spot on. The next morning at breakfast those that brought presents gave them to her and when she opened our bolsa she had a big smile and gave us hugs and kisses. Again the final finish was the herbal tea, which was perfect. After dinner we all sat around and had a fun multi cultural exchange.
That evening was an optional Disco event and Juan, Lauren and Silvie attended. Mama dressed Silvie in traditional clothes and the event was the kids playing instruments and everyone dancing. Not quite a John Travilta moment but fun they said. The rest of us opted for bed. We had a candle as there was no electricity in our room although the dining room had a hanging light bulb from solar panels. There was a toilet room in the courtyard but my sweet man got a chamber pot from Mama so we did not have to negotiate the steps down to the courtyard in the middle of the night. 😊. The days are really hot and the nights are very cold and I opted for two extra heavy alpaca blankets which were snuggly perfect and I put my fleece jacket over my pillow and wore my newly acquired alpaca hat and socks. Ahh, a great nights sleep!
Breakfast was delicious!!! Mama made a pancake type crepe that was a tich on the sweet side but yummy perfect with the tea. After breakfast we gave gifts, did group photos and then spent quite a bit of time saying good bye to Mama and Papa. I think I got three hugs and kisses from Mama. What a precious little and I mean little doll! I counted my blessings that the trek was “down” to the boat!!
This beautiful Dat morning was perfect for our boat ride to the last island of Taquile which had a very high up plaza over looking the lake where we were to have lunch. I contemplated weather or not I should attempt the hike and at the last minute decided to go as I couldn’t miss lunch. Dear readers I won’t bore you with the gruesome details of my trials and tribulations of negotiating this mountain but my sweet man was oh so encouraging and patient. I’ll just mention here we were the last to reach the plaza and our restaurant. I was not concerned about the 564 steps down as steps along with Wayne’s shoulder and my trekking stick are a breeze. Yippee, I had made it. Lunch started with a talk about local clothes and how to tell who is married and who is not. No one ever divorces on this island and once a young couple gets engaged they live together for two years before marriage. They have a plant here that they grind into a paste and add to water which makes a shampoo. Not only does it bubble and foam but it also keeps the hair really dark and no one has white hair on the island. They then took some unprocessed sheep wool and washed it in the shampoo and it came out a brilliant white. Unfortunately they don’t sell it to outsiders.
Lunch was out of this world. Started with a bowl of thisk creamy quinoa soup and then a plate of thick potato bread and a bowl of salsa which is the first time we have seen this. Just the perfect touch of picante. Next came a fish shaped platter with a filled fried trout, side of rice with veges and beets. You all know I am not a huge fish fan but this guy was delicious. Since I was still suffering a loss of appetite Wayne thought he died and went to heaven eating this lunch.
Back down to the boat via the 564 steps and I was momentarily a happy camper. Where in the hell were the building inspectors during the Inca times when they were building these steps which could be more adaquetly described as a series of ledges. How these little tiny Incas, not to mention the poor children ever could use these ledges to descend the mountain is beyond me! Once again my amazing man was so patient letting me use his shoulder along with my pole to descend. Again I will not describe the gain outs details but I did get an ovation when I reached the boat. Three hours and we were back in Puno to our same hotel room.
Juber met us in our lobby at 7:00 to take us to a special dinner at a really nice restaurant just a few doors from our restaurant which was appreciated as a thunder shower started about an hour before and the sky was pouring our first rain of our trip.
Ahhh, dinner! Francis and Pauline had run into our two Japanese friends and invited them to join us and Lanah opted to do dinner with her new friend. The menu had a photo and description of each course so it was easy to choose. Wayne opted for sliced chicken breast with a sauce made with crunchy duck, bacon, berries that Wayne lived. It was accompanied with a bowl of seasoned cubed fried potatoes and a side of sautéed vegetables. The sauce, not to mention the presentation made the meal. I opted for the vegetarian personal pizza cooked extra crispy with lots of onions and it was divine. It was seasoned perfectly. Everyone raved over their meals and each one was a sight to behold. Apologies that I still have not master inserting photos doing this blog on my phone.
Then came the treat of the floor show and we, thank you Juber, had primo seating. The group consisted of a large drum, guitar, the little 8 string chungare (sp) and a pan flute player. They were accompanied by 6 dancers who did elaborate costume changes between every dance while the group continued to play. Such stamina but so appreciated by the audience. We were delighted to be able to purchase a CD for a beautiful requerdo of our Peru trip. Fantastic meal and entertainment.
We are now on our way to Cusco.
More later.

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