Peru – Just Keeps Getting Better!
Today was an exceptional day. In all of my world travels I feel today was one of the most unique. Just amazing!
We enjoyed a leisurely buffet breakfast at our hotel before walking down the hotel pier to Lake Titicaca, the highest elevation lake in the World that is navigatable by man.
A private charter boat with a crew of 3 was waiting for us and since the weather was ideal the boat ride was smooth and scenic.
Lakeside dwellers today regard themselves as the oldest peoples in the World. Around the lake many cultures and civilizations existed. Jacques Cousteau conducted an underwater investigation and found out many strange facts.
After a hour and 15 minutes we arrived on Taquile Island where we walked along a beautiful beach and then visited with some local families. They played instruments, danced and sold their textile art which has been declared by UNESCO as a world heritage.
These isolated communities pay no tax.
The farmers survive by trading food at markets. Their plots of lands are very small. Everything grown is organic without chemicals. Depending on the weather they typically rotate crops every three years. They fertilize using Alpaca waste. They believe in Mother Earth and Father Sun. If a local bird puts its nest high in the lake reeds they know that rain is coming and if the nests are low they expect drought and will plant crops that need little rain.
They believe in healers – traditional medicine. If someone is ill they still use the Guinea Pig X-ray – the healer places the Guinea Pig in a bag with just its head out. It is placed on the chest of the ill – if the patient is fevered the Guinea Pig will get fevered. The Guinea Pig is believed to contract the same illness as the ill. After the X-ray the Guinea Pill is killed and opened – the healer inspects its organs to determine which human organs need fixing with traditional medicines. Our guide broke his leg – the healer repaired it by using lizard innards, sticks etc.. There is a health clinic on this island and a doctor comes twice a week but seldom has patients as almost everyone still follows traditional medicine.
Girls marry at 16, boys at 18. At this age both sexes carry a mirror and show their interest by using the mirror and sun to flash the other person. If its cloudy they will throw a stone close by.
Boys learn to knit by age 6. The men we saw today were constantly knitting. To get marriage approval the boy needs to knit a tight weaved hat that retains water – if not he is not a candidate. The girl wants to make sure that the boy is a hard worker and not lazy. Looks are not important. They will live together before marriage to make sure they are compatible in the boys parents home, The to be mother in law will make the boy peel a potatoe covered in eyes and if the peels are very thin he passes. The father in law has the to be bride cook pink quinoa – its extremely difficult to remove the pink colour by scrubbing and if its not all off before cooking the taste is bitter and the girl fails. A Wedding is a week long celebration where bride and groom need to look serious as this proves to the spirits that they are taking the vows seriously. Divorce is not allowed. Ladies cut their hair 3 times in their lives and its used almost as hair extensions for men when they are performing their music instruments and as belts in order to keep heavy loads on their backs. We were shown a hair belt that was over 30 year sold.
There are no dogs allowed on this island because they believe a dog has no purpose. A cat is allowed as it will hunt mice.
There is not to be any crime or stealing – public lashing is the punishment!
Meat is only eaten on special occasions a couple times a year – they often eat clay mixed with hot water, salt and potatoes, and they often share boiled vegetables at lunch – life expectancy is long.
I purchased a hand weaved belt made by a 14 year old girl. When I asked who made the belt she looked very embarrassed, turning her head slightly but she had a big smile on her face when her father told me she weaved it. She was very proud that I was purchasing her work of art that took a month to complete.
After an easy walk to the other side of the island we were met by the one of the Island Leaders who is in charge of making sure the island is kept in pristine condition and the paths etc are continually improved. This is a yearly voted position.
We departed for the the Capachica Peninsula to the community of Santa Maria (40 min boat ride) where we enjoyed a traditional lunch based on the “Pachamanca” way of cooking chicken, fish and potatoes using underground stone ovens. The family who hosted us were lovely. The mother told us to live our lives in the moment.
Our next boat journey took 30 minutes. The boat captain navigated us to a remote area in the National Reserve of Lake Titicaca where we explored the UROS Ccapi society who live on anchored reeds. This community is one of the most unique I have ever seen. We entered their modest homes and rode in their reed boats.
There are 1500 people living on over 90 anchored reed islands.
When we returned to our hotel later in the afternoon many sat outside in the gardens to relax with their fellow passengers. Dinner was earlier than usual as I wanted to give everyone time to pack, relax and get a good rest. Tomorrow we start our journey home. We fly to Lima where I have provided day rooms for everyone at the ultra deluxe JW Marriott. We’ll gather for a later farewell dinner prior to heading to the airport around 10:00pm. Our 8 hour direct Air Canada flight departs at 2:15am Monday morning.
What a marvelous adventure this has been! Today I had a group of former Galapagos passengers thank me for not making Machu Picchu a small extension to that Galagoes itinerary. After experiencing this amazing journey they realize as I said that Peru has so much more to offer than just Macchu Pichu – mind you its pretty hard to beat!
I can’t wait to return to Peru with another group.