Lake Titicaca, it has been quite the journey to experience you. It started with a 7 hour bus journey through the night. We bumped and swayed as we tried to sleep, but to no avail. Finally at 5am, we arrived in Puno, your biggest port city in Peru. We were driven in yet another bus to a hostel, where we were served a hot breakfast and given a space to nap. This hot breakfast saved me. The bread, eggs, jam, butter, and hot coco tea brought me back to life after a zombie like state of being, and spurred me into excitement for the adventure to come.
We were guided to a boat, where I was told no, I could not ride on top of the boat, as there were going to be announcements. This was disappointing, but I decided to not give up on my dream. We rode in peace for awhile,learning about the lakes amazing floating islands. We disembarked and were able to speak with a community on Urus, one of the most popular islands for tourists. This was interesting, but I could feel how staged it was, so my mind wandered back to riding on top of our boat. When we finally reloaded onto our steadfast vessel, I asked again. “Arriba?” And finally, the answer was yes. I climbed up joyfully, felt the wind on my face, climbed down even faster in a mad dash for my windbreaker, and enjoyed Lake Titicaca in all of its glory for the next few hours from my perch on the bow.
3 hours later…
I was jolted awake from a lovely nap that I was probably snoring during due to my fantastic sniffly nose that I came into contact with a few days before. The sniffles are glorious, really.
Anyways, I’m jolted awake, and find that we’ve arrived on Amantani Island, where we were to be staying for the night. Our tour was divided into much tinier groups to stay with home stays on the island. Let me just tell you, having all of these important looking traditionally dressed Peruvians starting at you, checking their papers, seemingly sizing you up, brought back horrible flashbacks to middle school PE team picking. Finally, we were divided up into our group of 5, and whisked away by our magical host father. He spoke to us in Spanish, smiled with the most welcoming beautiful smile, and fed us quinoa soup. Teo Filo, I think I love you; that soup was everything I needed and could have ever hoped for. We rested for awhile, and aware a physical excursion was on the horizon.
The mountain loomed over us, and the sun was teasing us with what looked like would be a down right scandalous sunset. We started hiking. Up, and up; breath after breath; we summited in time to complete the traditional routine at the Pachatata Temple. We took four rocks, representing health, studies, future, and love, and circled the temple with them before gently placing them at the base. To be completely honest, this was not as spiritual as it sounds, as there were probably 50 other tourists up on the peak doing the same as us, and people trying to sell us sweaters and food at every turn. The obvious photos were taken of each individual admiring the view, the sunset, their friends. And the sun did not disappoint. Her showing of colors from pink to orange to a beautiful red were something of dreams reflecting over this massive body of water.
We trekked back down the mountain to our homestay, and were greeted with a delicious traditional Peruvian dinner, rice, veggies, and a corn based soup. Again, perfection. Then suddenly, color everywhere. Skirts and ponchos were brought out and thrown on us; we were going to a fiesta. This part was fairly touristy, I will say. We all dressed up in traditional Andean garb and drank Cusqueña out of small cups and danced around in the communities meeting hall. We held hands and twirled in circles, faster and faster, swirling the circle into beautiful patterns, the hall was humming with the pan flutes and definitely not in tune. We danced and laughed and watched the stars. The night was beautiful, and over for our group after 3 of the ten minute songs.
Our second day of Titicaca Joy was started at a ripe 4:45 am when Mike, my roommate woke me up
“Katie! The sunrise!”
And then the day started again at 6:30 with a breakfast of pancakes.
We thanked our beautiful host family, and headed to port to head onto our next island; Taquile, not to be confused with “taquila”. We hiked up to the plaza, still panting.
I honestly wonder if my heart will ever truly be adjusted to the altitude, or if I’m forever doomed to panting and heaving on every flight of stairs and slight incline.
More photos, of course. A lesson on the weaving community, and a chance to hike the circumference and get a BEAUTIFUL view of the lake on a clear day. We saw Bolivia, I decided I would really like to go to Bolivia, and we were served a lunch of fish, caught that day, from the lake we were looking over. Delicious.
I slept for 3 hours straight on the way back to Puno. No more Titanic-esque boat adventures for me; I was out. Probably snoring, and it was an absolutely delicious nap. One of those warm ones, where you wake up feeling like a new person. I was overjoyed. Upon arrival to Puno, we ran back to our hostel for the usage of their wifi, an amenity we had been without for two days. It was bittersweet almost. Upon checking my social media, I realized that most of my friends had graduated from High School that weekend, and I had been blissfully unaware while on an island in the middle of a lake. I of course congratulated them, but then turned my phone off and decided that I wasn’t ready to face the world yet. I still had another 7 hour bus ride back, and a 5 hour waiting period in this port town before that. We ate and laughed and shared memories from the weekend with our large group, and found some cool spots to hang out in our limbo space that was Puno. One lounge went by the understated name: Positive. I loved it and spent at least an hour there.
As you can assume, I slept the entire ride home, and slept another 4 hours once I was back in my bed in my apartment here in Cusco. This weekend was full of chapped lips, happy smiles, and new friendships. Gracias Lago Titicaca!
*Some of these photos have been taken from our shared group Facebook album and I do not own the rights. Credits go to Sean Barter, Cassie Weis, Mathilde Brique, Michael Malito, Anne Greeley and Matt Waugh*