Isla Suasi

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    • Day 14

      Lake Titicaca

      July 7, 2016 in Peru ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

      Early start today to explore the 2nd largest lake in South America but the highest navigable lake in the world. Titicaca means 'puma stone' in the native pre-incan language of Aymara. The puma is a sacred animal for the Incan people. Ironically, once arial photos of the lake could be taken, they found that the shape of the lake had the shape of a puma.
      We traveled by motor boat with an enclosed area. Good thing because it was cold today (30-40 degrees)! I used the scarf and gloves I overpaid for in Cusco (still only $25).
      We started our exploration on the floating, man-made islands of Uros. There are over 100 small islands with, typically, 4-5 families per island. They use small reed canoes/boats to navigate to other islands and most are very close to one another. They build their islands with the roots of reeds and then add layer upon layer of reeds, so each island feels very spongy to walk on. They make their homes and beds out of these reeds along with some wood. The women stand in bright clothing along the small shore of their island indicating that they welcome visitors. We stopped on an island and 2 women showed us their home. We saw the fish they collect and reeds they use, not just for building but also to eat the stems for calcium and iodine. Their livelihood relies on selling tapestries and other crafts. We couldn't help but buy a small tapestry despite not really needing it. We also bought a couple of craft items for the boys. All for around $40. They sang goodbye to us in their native language and then in English, a bit mangled version of 'Row Row Row Your Boat'!
      We spent 10 soles per person (~$3) to be taken across the small channel in a large reed canoe to the small tourist island. They actually have huts that they describe as hotel rooms.
      Our guide, Maria picked us up in the motor boat, and we traveled an hour and 20 minutes to a much larger, natural island called Taquile. There are about 2000 inhabitants on the island. We stayed at the shore to meet a few of the local people and to learn about their customs. In particular, the women weave and the men knit. Their woven clothing/hats/belts indicate their marital status. For single men, the direction of the pom on top of their hat indicates whether he has a girlfriend, is interested in one or isn't interested at all.
      While we sat there, a couple of women wove and 4 men performed a song for us with flutes and a drum.
      We traveled another hour and 20 minutes to the island where we will be staying for the next couple of days. It is called Suasi. There is only 1 hotel on the small island. As it turns out, we are the only guests, in this 24 room hotel, for our whole stay! It's our very own island with our very own staff! Makes us feel very special. This is another eco-friendly lodge so no WiFi, limited electricity (all by solar panels) and no outlets in the rooms. (Julie, you must be wondering how we can survive!)
      Still, the room is perfectly nice with a small fireplace and a window on the ceiling to view the stars on a clear night.
      Meals are included here and lunch was very good - trout, chicken, alpaca, veggies, potatoes and chocolate mousse for dessert - our favorite!
      If it was nice out we could have hiked, looked for animals, kayaked or canoed etc, but it was cold and rainy ☔ (The Incan sun God is clearly angry that Dave left - and maybe the luxury train god too!) so we sat in front of a nice fire in their bar area and played cards for way too many hours with the wonderful sound of the rain around us - that, Julie, you would have loved!
      We ate a very good dinner with, of course, chocolate mousse for dessert! Mmmm...
      Realized today that I'm nearly maxed out on my outgoing text allowance, so I will only respond by text if necessary. 😊
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    • Day 15

      Suasi Island

      July 8, 2016 in Peru ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

      What a lovely place to, almost, end our days in Peru! After breakfast, we hiked around the island for about an hour. It was sunny and windy today. We came across vicunas (one of the 4 camelids whose fur is highly prized here) and roaming alpacas. At the peak of the island were beautiful views. Too windy for a canoe ride today. Despite the water all around it is remarkably dry here due to the elevation.
      We came back to the hotel and played cards by the fire until lunch. We took a short walk and then I took a nap. Wow, did I sleep hard! Blaming it on the altitude! I made myself wake up for the best hot chocolate we've ever had.
      Played cards again until dinner and then packed our stuff to be ready to go home tomorrow night! 😊
      Overall the service was good but not excellent (as it could have been given that we were the only guests!)
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