Well… this adventure is quickly coming to a close. I can hardly believe that a month has flown by already.
The past few days have definitely filled up our cultural quota for the trip. A couple days ago we took a boat to the floating Uros islands on Lake Titicaca near the Bolivian border. These islands are made completely out of reeds and are like nothing I’ve ever seen before. We stopped at one such island and visited a traditional home. It’s hard to believe that people actually live like that. If they have a disagreement with their neighbours, they just lift up the anchor and float away to a new destination. Crazy!
After that we continued by boat for 3 hours to Amantani island. We were greeted at the port by our homestay families. All of the various tourists were divided into groups of two or three and assigned to a family. Our mama was named Inocencia and she was the sweetest woman in the whole wide world. She led us up the mountain (the hiking just never ends) to our home away from home. We helped her make lunch by peeling and splitting peas which were later used for soup. The food was amazing. It’s hard to believe that their rustic little cocinas can produce such delicious food. We had quinoa soup with potatoes and cheese for lunch; a very traditional meal. Our Spanish 101 class came in quite handy at this point because our family didn’t speak any English and it was nice to at least say a few things to them. We then met with the rest of our group to hike to the top of the mountain. The timing wasn’t ideal because it started to rain just as we got to the top of the mountain but we got our mandatory photos and then hurried back down.
Laura wasn’t feeling her best so she opted out of the hike so when I got down the mountain I went to look for her. I wasn’t able to find her so I decided to hide out in the little community store and make friends with a Swiss couple and some Israeli guys. I totally lost track of time and didn’t even realize that not only had the storm worsened but it was also now pitch black outside. Fortunately, my mama came to get me and guided me back to our casa with her incredible night vision. I literally couldn’t see one step in front of me. When I got back to our room, Laura was waiting for me. She had also been hiding out at a neighbour’s house and got lost in the rain. But once again, mama Inocencia saved the day and guided her home as well.
We had dinner later that evening, which was delicious once again and then our mama came and dressed us up in traditional clothes for the evening fiesta. We walked over to the community center where we all danced around to traditional music. Fortunately, we all brought flashlights for the walk home. After crawling back through the little hobbit door that I banged my head on several times we had quite a lovely sleep under layers of alpaca blankets. It was definitely more comfortable then I thought. We even had an outhouse, which was better than I had expected. However, it was hard to use in the dark of night. Laura and I ventured out together and held the flashlight for one another. It was a little awkward since it felt like a spotlight was being shone on me at my most unflattering moment, but you do what you gotta do. Just another one of the comedic moments that we’ve come to appreciate during this trip outside our comfort zone.
The next morning we had breakfast in bed… we felt pretty spoiled. Then we said goodbye to our families and loaded back into the boat for an hour boat ride to Taquile island. We hiked up yet another huge hill to the top of the island where we hung out in the main square until lunch. We were all amazed at how lovely the day was after the torrential downpour the night before. The views of the lake were seriously stunning. Lake Titicaca is apparently the highest navigable lake in the world but I don’t always believe everything the guides tell us… sometimes they seem to exaggerate the facts.
After lunch we took the 3 hour boat ride back to Puno. Laura and I sat on the top of the boat with some of our new friends and thoroughly enjoyed the sun and the fresh air. Although, I’ve been careful to bundle up since I burned to a crisp on the hike to Machu Picchu. Even though it’s winter right now, the sun is still intense during the middle of the day and my poor neck and nose are paying the price.
We are now preparing for our last epic bus ride back to Lima. After about 20 hours on Cruz del Sur (apparently the best bus company ever) we will be back in our beloved Miraflores and getting ready to come home to Canada.
I’ve had the most amazing journey and now all I want to do is plan my next trip back to South America. The mosquitoes may have left me alone this trip… but the travel bug has latched on and doesn’t show signs of letting go anytime soon.