Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Floating Islands and the Uros People

This is the view of the lake from my window.  What a gorgeous view to wake up to this morning!

Today was spent entirely on the beautiful Lake Titicaca!  We visited two different islands today, two very different islands.  The first island we visited was in the community of the floating islands.  This culture is so fascinating to me, the islands are man made and are made completely out of floating reeds.  The number of islands in the community is constantly changing because they are always combing islands together or tearing them apart.  The Uros people are extremely welcoming, warm and happy people and it was such a pleasure to spend some time with them and get to know more about their culture.

This is the president of the island that we visited.  He is so young!  Here he is demonstrating how the islands are made.  They use the roots as a base then layer the reeds in a criss cross pattern on top of the reed base.  Then they anchor the island with ropes and stakes so they don't float away in the middle of the night!

After a short presentation about the culture of the Uros people, we had time to explore their little island and to buy some of their beautiful handmade products.

They also let some of us dress up in their traditional costumes.  Everything about these islands and people are bold, bright, colorful and happy

I could have spent a lot longer on that tiny island, but it was time for us to bid farewell and take a ride on one of their famous reed boats.  As we pushed away from the shore all the women and children serenaded us with some traditional folk songs.

When the president noticed me taking pictures of him rowing the boat, he asked if I would like to try ....!  
It was hard, we slowed waaaaaay down, so he took his place back ... but it was definitely a fun experience!

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Andean Explorer

From Cusco we took a ten hour train ride on the Andean Explorer to Lake Titicaca.  Traveling by train is glorious!  It is so scenic and relaxing and comfortable and just wonderful all the way around.  I love traveling by train and prefer it a million times over to traveling by airplane.   

In the back they had different kinds of entertainment running throughout the ten hour ride.  They had traditional music and dancing which was really fun to watch!

In the very back was the observation car, the back end was open so there was a lot of fresh air and it was the best place to take pictures without getting any reflections in your photos.  I spent a lot of time back there, I was still experiencing some altitude sickness so the fresh air and open feeling of the car was soo nice.

We made one stop and that was at Central La Raya, we stop here because it is the highest point of the trip 14,000 feet!  We had about ten minutes to stretch our legs, do some quick shopping and take some photos.  It was a beautiful place to stop!

Our friend John bought this hat to help keep him warm during the winters in Idaho.  Its made out of alpaca wool, I have no doubts it will keep him warm!

This is random but I thought their 10 soles bill was so cool it has Machu Picchu on it!  I wanted to document it so I am throwing it in this post.

After our stop we were served a wonderful lunch.  This was my appetizer, potato soup ... interesting take on the dish

A few hours later we had afternoon tea complete with tea sandwiches, fruit kabob and chocolates, it was delightful!

After tea time I headed to the observation car to watch the sunset, it was stunning.

Tauck has some serious pull with the companies they work with in the different places they take their tours, the train stopped about 20 minutes from the station just for our group!  We had a bus waiting for us that took us directly to the hotel, this way they cut out about an hour of waiting to disembark, waiting for bags to be collected and just other unpleasant time spent at a train station.  I'm not going to lie, it was a fabulous way to end ten hours on a train!