A memorable excursion

Monday, September 22, 2014

This is the week some girlfriends and I hopped on a bus to go see some ruins with a tour guide who had memorized four hours worth of English but thought every question we asked was about potatoes. And because no trip is complete without it, I once again managed to separate from the group and lose track of time, only to find a bus filled with very hostile people waiting for us upon our eventual return. They chastised us in spanish, and although I didn't get all of it, I'm pretty sure one tourist from Spain said "You're making me late for being solicited to by locals selling llama keychains! I NEED MORE LLAMA KEYCHAINS!!" (Not really.) I wanted to say "No hablo espanol," but as it turns out, such options are limited in the first 30 seconds after pronouncing "Yo entiendo espanol." There was color, there were snowcapped mountains, there was that time our bus yielded to a Toyota Yaris and almost backed over a cliff doing it, and there was sodium in its most breathtaking form. There was also a hike no one was psychologically prepared for, and that really disappointing moment when I realized that a Peruvian had lied to me again---raw plantains were not delicious fruits, but horribly strange and disappointing banana-looking things. 

All in all, a memorable excursion!

They spin the yarn from wool and then dye it using natural things. 
Demonstrating how they made the natural dyes. Very cool and impressive!
From up here, those steps looked like fun, easy hops. In reality, they were leg-stretching muscle-builders.
We were determined to make it all the way to the bottom!
Salinas de Maras---Salt flats.

Week 5: Lake Titicaca

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Being busy and not having wifi for the last half of my time in Peru made it nearly impossible to share the weeks as they passed. But as always, late is better than never!

The highlight of my fifth week was a weekend visit to Lake Titicaca. It was a chilly, beautiful, exhausting, relaxing, totally touristy, and yet somehow-still-authentic experience.

But first, some cheese.
...and the last meal with my host family before I left them to spend the remainder of my stay in the school's dorms.
Ok, back to Titicaca.
We arrived to Puno just in time for an early breakfast and the sunrise over the lake.
Photo opportunities like this...are why I travel.
All in all, we spent eight hours on our little boat. The roof had the views and the breeze; the deck had the cushions and the warmth; the inside had the ability to rock you to sleep to the sound of the World Cup.
The floating island of Uros! Quite an impressive lifestyle of innovation: they floated on, made their houses with, traveled by, made toys from, and ate, reeds.
My room on Amantani, an island with not much to do but dance, hike, keep warm, and watch the sunset over the lake and the nearby snow-capped mountains of Bolivia.
From where I sat at my host's kitchen table.
I'm almost positive that I ate more rice and potatoes during my time in Peru than I did in the last 2-3 years.
Venders set up for tourists waiting to watch the sunset over the lake.
I kind of wandered away from the group and almost spent the night roaming the hills of an island with nothing but seemingly identical houses and fields on a winter's night. But wondering if I was going to later be featured on "I Shouldn't Be Alive" was totally worth the moon, silhouettes of backpackers, and last rays of sunlight that were captured in this shot.
Waiting to dance with the locals!
Week 6, comin' soon. :)
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