Saturday, August 22, 2009

titikaka. titikaka. titikaka. stars. lake. stars.

wow. So here I am in Aerequipa after leaving Puno this morning. Lake Titikaka (how it{s actually spelled, who knew?) was really just amazing. I ended up taking an organized tour which turned out great. First we went to the man made floating islands which have been happening for the last 500 years or so. It is very touristy, but also very cool. I have become one with being a tourist. I struggled with it before spending so long in Ollantaytambo. Nobody wants to be a tourist, you know? So you think you should be looking for some other way to do the same thing everyone is doing and everyone is looking for some other way to do. Silly! Sometimes just being a plain old tourist is just fine. So I looked at their islands and asked the same questions everyone must ask and had a grand ol time with it. Part of the thing about responsible tourism is the reality that they are a sideshow and you are there to look at them and that is is reasonable to make it worth it to them. So you pay the 10 soles to ride the reed boat from one island to another even if you don{t really care about it because it{s a way to put money into their pockets. I don{t have room in my pack for souveniers so I had to do other things like ride the boat.

After Urus (the floating islands) we spent about three hours on the boat and arrived at a small island called Amanati where there are no restaurants and no hostels or hotels so you stay with a local family and eat what they feed you. I ended up with a girl from Australia who was super nice and we had a great time together. We got really lucky with our family and from talking to the others in the group ours was hands down the best. I got to practice my handful of Quechua phrases which they loved and it was good to be able to speak Spanish - I think it helped with having a better experience. I took a couple kilos of tangerines for the family from the mainland and had toys to give to the kids which was great. I was glad I had read this tip as they don{t get any fruit on the island and it was certainly viewed as a treat. After lunch we climbed up to the temples Pacha Tata (father earth) and Pacha Mama (mother earth). Big good long hike at tremendous altitude. Sure am glad I{ve been walking in the Andes or I never would have made it. I spent the sunset at the Pacha Mama temple and it was incredible. I had one of those moments of feeling surreal because I was actually there. Not reading about it on the internet or a guide book, actually there. The lake itself is huge - I had no idea it was so big - and very blue and just beautiful. They say that there is a line of energy that runs from the island of the sun on the Bolivia side to Lake Shasta. Sure. But either way, beautiful. Probably the most amazing part was to be on an island in the middle of a huge lake with no electricity and so no light pollution and to be that high up to see the starts. No moon in the sky was a lucky coincidence. There was also an electrical storm which creates lightening with no thunder and no storm which is very common here - happened lots in Ollantay - so we got to see that and a pile of shooting stars and the milky way and that was on top of the normal stars that were spectacular themselves.

The next day we left at 7am and went to an island called Taquiles which is also very pretty and the island that tourists go to when they just take a day trip out onto the lake. It wasn{t anything super special, but beautiful, cause it can{t help but be in that setting.

Back to Puno in the afternoon and I was thrilled to stay in a hotel with my own room and my own bathroom with hot water and water pressure. Wow. I almost cried I was so happy about how that felt. Of course the hot water ran out in the middle of washing my hair but I didn{t even mind cause the beginning was sooooo good. Also cable TV. Laying in bed watching bad TV. I have to say that I loved loved loved it. yay for that.

Up early this morning to catch a bus for Aerequipa and I happened to get the seat on the second floor right in the front which is pretty entertaining. On the one hand, you get the best view, on the other hand you know exactly what your driver is doing when he is passing a truck full of gas going uphill on a blind corner. oh jeez. Beautiful drive and now I{m checked into a hostel where I am back to sharing a dorm room and shared bathrooms which is fine. Just nice to have a treat once in a while. I think I will spend tomorrow exploring Aerequipa and then head out on some tours - of Colca Canyon and Torre Muerto and whatever else looks good.

Hope you all are well,

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