Lake Titicaca

Bordering both Peru and Bolivia, you will find the highest navigable lake in the world and the largest in South America, Lake Titicaca.

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An 8 hour bus ride from Cusco brings you to the Puno region of Peru where we find the western side of Lake Titicaca (the eastern side is in Bolivia). It is absolutely massive in size and contains around 50 islands. Lake Titicaca is also famous for the Uros people who live on floating islands made out of reeds (to be written about in my next post!).

My day started at around 7 am in the town of Puno, from where we took a speedboat to one of the islands of the lake. Despite being almost freezing that early in the morning, the deep blues of the lake beautifully reflected the white flecked sky above, with the sun just about peeking through.

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As with every other place I visited in Peru, getting to the heart of the island involved quite a steep climb (not forgetting the high altitude and dreaded breathlessness!)

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We met these children along the way, selling their woven bracelets for almost nothing (about £0.20) each. Quite a lucky day for these two as everyone pretty much bought their entire stock!

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The people of the island are known for weaving – particularly the men. In fact, that’s the only way you are guaranteed a wife! You see men and women around the island in several types of clothing; long skirts, black skirts, black hat, small hat, pom-poms hanging off of capes – and all of these symbolise something or the other. For example, they symbolise whether that man is the head of the island, whether the woman is married or whether the man is looking for a wife. Boys are therefore taught to weave from a young age as ultimately, their wives-to-be will test out their goods to see if they will be suitable husbands.

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One way in which women choose their husband is to take their hats and pour water through them to see how well they hold the water. If the water stays mostly inside the hat, the man is skilled at weaving and therefore, considered a good suitor!

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 I tried my hand at learning how to weave from this little 12 year old and unfortunately, failed miserably! I’ll just stick to blogging, thanks!

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Another lovely tradition is the way in which a boy tells a girl that he is interested in her. The boys (and men) all wear thick belts around their waist with the younger or unmarried ones keeping a mirror hidden underneath. Whenever  a boy sees a girl he is interested in, he takes out the mirror and reflects the light from the sun in her direction. The girl has a choice of either shining the light back if she is interested as well or if not (my favourite part) hidden in pom-poms that dangle from her cape, throws rocks towards the boy. I strongly believe this tradition should be replicated in the modern world!

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See the colourful pom-pom hanging from this little girl’s cape? That is where they store rocks. Pom-poms can be big or small, depending on how many and the size of the rocks the girl wishes to carry around.

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After exploring the island, listening to the quirky traditions of the people there and working up quite an apetite, we headed to another island for lunch with a local family.

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I apologise for the lack of pictures of my meal here but I was far too distracted by this little thing roaming around our table.

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I was even given the honour of feeding him; warm milk out of a baby bottle!

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This little boy was another wonder; he knew exactly how to work the camera and was happy to pose for as many shots as I liked. The little lamb seemed to like him quite a bit as well and followed him around everywhere he went, absolutely adorable!

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A little bit about the lunch (which I’m afraid I have no photos of!): We started off with quinoa soup, accompanied by homemade local bread and then a plate of rice, grilled trout from the lake and fried potatoes. Everything was incredibly fresh and yum!

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I was most in awe of the size of Lake Titicaca as I wasn’t expecting it to be that big! Big, blue, beautiful-ness all around, for miles and miles. You wouldn’t tire of looking at it. I really enjoyed meeting the people of some of the islands as well, listening to their stories and learning about their wonderful customs.

Despite having so little, they seem more content with their life than us city dwellers, with the world literally in the palm of our hands.

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