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Lake Titicaca

Puno, Peru

We arrived in Puno in the morning and were able to go directly on a tour to Lake Titicaca.

Lake Titicaca is the world highest navigable lake and according to legend, this lake gave birth to the Inca civilization. Thus it is regarded as a very sacred place.

Soon, after the minibus ride from the hostel to the port, we were sitting in the tour boat heading out to the floating islands. We were amazed of the beauty of the lake but it was a little annoying having to listen to the non stop talking guide saying everything in both spanish and english so you heard everything twice. An Argentinian guy let his cup of Mate tea go around to everybody in the boat and two japanese girls sat there and didn´t understand either spanish nor english...

After a while we arrived at one of the floating islands, also called the Uros, named after the Indians who inhabited them. Legend has it the Uro Indians had black blood that helped them survive the cold nights.

On the island, the president, yes the president, explained the way of life around this island and how the islets are made of totora reeds which grow in the lake. They also eat the totora reeds which are also used to help ease hangovers from drinking too much. After the talk we could walk around the island and visit the houses and wear some traditional clothes. We looked... great. Before we left, we had to guess the depth of the lake from where we stood. I won and received a nice uro-made necklace. When we were about to leave the uro-women started singing one of their traditional songs. It was really beautiful at first when they were singing in this-quechua-language-none-of-us-understands but then they started singing in english, spanish, french, german, even in japanese. Suddenly, the whole mystic feeling about the lake disappeared for awhile. Unfortunately, they are too dependant on the tourists which keep on exploiting the local people.

We left the island on the best boat though, a Mercedes Benz, instead of the tour boat. You really notice the tranquillity around the lake when you are on a motorless boat. We visited another floating island where they sold uro-made stuff. After that we got back on the tour boat. We found out they have a separate island to go to the bathroom (número dos). Imagine what that island must look like… we didn’t get the privelage to go there though.

Two and a half hours later we went ashore on a "normal" island on the lake and there we saw a real closed community, which have really different clothing compared to the rest of Peru. Here they don´t use rings to show if there married. Here they wear different colored hats to signify their marital status. A solid red colored hat signifies that you’re married. A white and red colored hat signifies that you are single… and depending on how your hat falls could mean that you’re “looking for” or “not interested” in having a relationship.

On this island, if a boy likes a girl, he throws a pebble (or rock) at her (real old-school Stone age way of doing it) to attract her attention. If she responds with a smile or good gesture then it's a "go". If she frowns or throws a rock back at the guy, well then it's probably not gonna happen.

Before getting married, they move in with his family for 5 years. Within this time she must produce some children, if no children are born, the man doesn´t have to marry the poor woman. If they do marry she is bound to forever walk 2 meters behind him! Progress apparently - as 10 years ago it was 5 meters!

Another thing is that once the bride and groom get married, the bride will cut all of her hair and give it to the groom. The groom then wears the hair on his head for the rest of his life.

They also live by 3 ancient rules - do not steal, don't be idle and do not lie. Having these rules means there is not need for police on the island.

It was surely like stepping into another world. Next stop, Bolivia!


permalink written by  Steffi & Chris on February 1, 2010 from Puno, Peru
from the travel blog: 212 days
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Det här med stenkastningen är ju inte så olikt "boll-tricket" =) Klockrent att det räcker att vinkla hatten lite så är det "game on". Tre regler, ingen polis. Här ta mitt hår.
Riktigt schyssta dessa Uroer.

Verkar minst sagt som om ni hittat guldställen, Lake Titicaca verkade ju hur fint som helst. Trist när du kände att turistbehovet sken igenom bara, och mystiken försvann.

Ska bli skoj att läsa om Bolivia.

Hasta luego! Sara hälsar!

permalink written by  Jonte on March 4, 2010

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