Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Lake Titicaca (get your mind out of the gutter!)

Sorry this post is a week later than I planned on writing it. So much has been going on! Firstly, we finished up our four weeks of working at el Centro de Salud Santa Rosa. It was such a great experience working with such knowledgeable and kind doctors who are really passionate about preventative care.
Here´s a pic of us with our doctors on our last day.
This past weekend, Shelby, our fellow volunteer-mate, Duncan, and I took a trip to el Lago de Titikaka. The giant lake between Peru and Bolivia. First we took an overnight bus to Copacabana, Bolivia, pretty much to say that we had been to Copacabana and with the intention on singing Barry Manilow´s song ¨At the Copa, Copacabana.¨ Talk about a hidden treasure! Copacabana is a small town with hostels ligning the cliffside, overlooking the lake. It was so perfect and relaxing. We did a hike up the Calvaria mountain (that was tougher than hiking up to Cristo Blanco in Cusco), then enjoyed the evening in a hot tub (with a random couple) at the next-door hostel with a bottle of wine whilst overlooking the lake at twilight. So romantic lol.
 The view from the top of the Calvaria
The view from our window at our hostel room in Copacabana

Next we took the bus back across the border to Puno, Peru to get ready for our island homestay tour in Lake Titicaca. First, we took boat to the floating reed islands of Uros. The people live off of the reeds. The islands are made of reeds. Their homes and furniture and boats are made of reeds. They even eat the roots of the reeds. In total there are 80 floating islands. If there are any problems between neighbors, they can just saw off their portion of the island and either start a new island or anchor on to another floating island.
Next we took a 3 hour boat ride (a choppy boat ride) to the big island, Amantani. Here we were introduced to our host-families. Our host-mother Vincentina and host-grandmother, Francisca cooked our meals and later dressed us up in traditional clothing and taught us how to dance at the fiesta they have for the tourists at night. In the afternoon, our tour guide led us up to the temple of Pachatata (father earth). This weekend was full of hikes to get me ready for Macchu Picchu next weekend!

 Atop Pachatata (yes I´m representin´)
With Abuelita Francisca
After spending one night on la Isla de Amantani, we were off to the smaller island, Tequile. Naturally, the plaza was at the top of the island so we did another hike up there. We had lunch at a restaurant that had a great view of the lake looking towards Puno bay. We also learned about the significance of the types of hats men wear on Tequile island to show whether they are single and want to be left alone, or single and looking, or engaged, or married. A very obvious way to show your relationship status.
la Isla de Tequile

Finally we made it back to Puno and had time to kill before our 9:30pm night bus. Puno is a surprising city. At first glance, it´s just another city. According to Lonely Planet it is the Folklore capitol of Peru. It is a much smaller city than Cusco. Their ¨Gringo¨street has a lot of neat bars and restaurants. Like Copacabana, Puno has some hidden treasures of its own. On a smaller street off ¨Gringo¨street, we found an awesome restaurant bar with a delicious 3 course dinner for a great price. Unlike Cusco, Puno has a cinema! So to kill time, we watched El Origen de Guardians in spanish (and no subtitles!). It was good Spanish practice. For our last dinner in Puno, we found a restaurant off the beaten path again, called La Choza de Oscar. Great food... and lo and behold it ended up being a dinner and a show! Although there were only 3 of us there, the band and the dancers peformed with all their hearts. They danced several different folk dances with costume changes and all. We couldn´t have asked for a more perfect way to end our weekend trip.

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