Puno, Peru, November 25, 2017
What a surprise to walk out of the hotel this morning and find a market on our street! Not only on our street, but all around us-
Wild oats is as expensive as clean oats-
More dried potatoes-
Women just hang out. They were here all day visiting and selling the odd thing-
The city of Puno reaches up to the tops of the mountains-
We went on a tour to the Island of Uros in Lake Titicaca. Lake Titicaca is 65 km wide and 165 km long making for 8562 square kilometers and is at an altitude of 3810 meters. Its maximum depth is 274 meters. There are 36 natural islands and over 100 floating ones. 60% of the water is in Peru, 40% is in Bolivia.
When the Spanish showed up at Puno, they wanted the Incas to move to Bolivia to work in the silver mines. Of course, they didn't want to go, so they moved out onto the lake. At first, they lived on floating boats, complete with kitchens. They lived on the boats until 1944 when El Niño forced them to make islands. They went 4 years without rain, so the boats wouldn't float anymore. So, since 1949, they live on the islands.
Reeds fill the shallower parts of the lake-
We visited the village of Kamisaraki. We weren't the first tourists they'd seen. 6 families comprising 25 people live here-
Years ago families used to have 11 or more kids but now they only have 2 or 3. There were no kids on this island because they were at school. There also were no men-
The island is made of Totara reeds and if you peel the first layer of the white part off, you can eat the inside. It's spongy and sort of tastes like banana-
To make the islands, they cut out the roots of the reeds, then pile layers of reeds on top, alternating laying them down horizontally and vertically. They use 2 meters of reeds and 1 meter of roots. An island lasts 30 - 40 years. Some parts of the island felt very spongy-
Rosita lives in this house-
She has electricity so she can listen to a radio-
Of course crafts are for sale. I almost bought a piece of embroidery-
They have lots of trinkets. I can't imagine they make them all but maybe they do-
We left Kamisaraki for another island with 2 villagers rowing an old style boat. Russ, Norm, Pauwel and Richard enjoyed the sun-
We got this far from Kamisaraki and the wind seemed to come up and blew us back! A motor boat came along and smacked hard into us, no damage, and pushed us across to another island-
The second island was really rubby. There were kids here and I could hear a baby crying so I found her and picked her up. Her face was absolutely covered in snot and she wasn't wearing a diaper. Thank goodness she wasn't wet, nor did she do anything while I was holding her. Her mother, who was in the kitchen, came along, wiped her face and started nursing her. Meanwhile, a woman in the kitchen kept saying to me "ayudarme". It took awhile for me to understand that she was asking me to help her. So, I started squeezing lemons. They use the juice for ceviche. She didn't ask me to wash my hands. I was completely grossed out on that island!
This woman is filleting fish for ceviche-
The bathrooms have a septic tank but the water in the bowl appeared to go straight into the lake. Their drinking water comes directly from the lake too, but I guess after 60 some years they know what they're doing-
Back in Puno, there is a food fest on this weekend-
I only saw one place that was serving cuy and it was deep fried. It looked like a rat cooking in the oil-
In front of a church there were 2 bands alternating playing big band music. Between them was a monument to promote La Virgen de la Candelaria, Puno's patron virgin and festival, which is February 2nd-
Now this is weird. Men walk around with stuffed cuy-
Women wear fancy clothes and carry musical instruments-
Tonight I wanted supper at the food fair but it was closed. I wandered around the market which was surprisingly still open. It was noisy and busy. Grape sellers were calling out their prices on a microphone that we can hear all the way to our hotel. Everything imaginable was available and people were everywhere. Saturdays are market days in Puno.
Tomorrow we're on our way to La Paz, Bolivia!