Thursday, April 6, 2017

Peru Trip: Puno

Today we traveled to Lake Titicaca. It is pronounced lake Titi-haha. Titi means puma and ha-ha means grey. An aerial view of the lake rotated from east to west shows the island is the shape of a puma.

Lake Titicaca sits at 3’800 meters (11,000 ft) above water. It is the highest navigable lake in the world and coves over 8,500 square meters shared almost equally between Bolivia and Peru.

The Uros people leave on floating islands made of reeds called tataro harvested locally. They are edible and taste like a sweet lettuce. The reeds roots are full of iodine and calcium. That is why Uros have great oral health. Tataro roots have other medicinal purposes and are traded in town for other items they need

There are 3500 Uros people at present. It is believed that over 1000 years ago the people of Puno built the islands as a defense mechanism for Inca invasion. The islands are tied together and staked down but can be easily moved. Our tour guide taught us some Aymara to converse with the locals.
Camicharaki? - good morning, how are you?
Uanich -Very well, thank you.

We visited a small island in the Puma district comprised of three families. The island’s chief his wife Maria and a few other people were there when we visited. The 11 children were away at school on another larger Uro island 1.5 hrs away. They make the commute each way Monday through Friday. I can't even imagine living the way they do. They spend much of their time working on the upkeep of a floating island. They lay new reeds weekly, travel far distances to fish, trade their goods, bathe in really cold water. Simple conveniences like running water, trash disposal, and a refrigeration are not available.

After leaving these wonderful, simple people we continued our tour to Taquile Island hours from Uro.

The island is mountainous and the central plaza is at the top of a steep hike. The altitude makes the hike slightly harder because our bodies are working extra hard to have enough oxygen at 3950 meters height.

The sides of the island are made of terraces developed to grow crops. Corn, potatoes, and quinoa are common sights. Fishing is another source of sustenance.
The Taquile people are famous for their knitting and weaving. The men knit elaborate hats to present to their future father in law when asking for their daughter’s hand in marriage. If the hat can hold water without leaking, the father consent to the marriage.

The future bride will then cut her hair and use it to weave a beautiful black belt. The couples will live together for two years before they are permitted to marry and is during that time that the women complete the first belt. The belt also serves as padding for a second more elaborate belt that men wear on top of the first. The top belt is supposed to last a lifetime and depict the wife’s hopes and dreams for the couple.

All men wear chullos (knitted hats).  If the hat is white and red it indicates the man is single. If it is completely red, it shows he is married.

I noticed that even when they are not wearing their chullos on their head, they carry them on them.

The women wear dark colored skirts to show they are married. Single girls and women wear skirts in bright colors.

The Taquile people work as communities. There are six groups. Each of them takes turns harvesting their crops. We could tell whenever we were entering one community because each area is delineated by a stone arch on the path.

There is only a small cemetery is Taquile. The locals prefer to bury their loved ones around their home and believe that those spirits will guard those who live there.