Seal relaxing in a chair. (Yvonne Smith)
We leave the hotel at 7:30, Steve still not feeling well after a sleepless night (symptom of altitude sickness). We head down to the harbour and pick up a few food items and water for our boat trip to Amantani and the family of which we'll be staying with. We also have a huge pack of goodies that we have brought from Canada (and dragged around the last 6 weeks of travel!) The boat ride to Uros is only about 20 minutes long. The floating Islands are quite unbelievable and so primative. Tourism is the main source of income so the woman are constantly showing you their handicrafts and asking for extra money for every service (small boat ride in a reed boat, photos etc.) We purchase a few souvenirs and hav a family photo taking dressed in traditional clothing. We then hop back on the boat for a 3 hour ride to Amantani Island. Lake Titicaca is a beautiful dark green colour and you can see the shores of both Peru and Bolivia + many islands. We reach Amantani and despite a supposed 'roster' system of families, our guide determines that it is too disorganized and therefore walks us to a home where he has stayed before and he knows they can accommodate 4 people. It is a bit odd given we've read that the roster system is quite important but nonetheless, we follow our guide. The home we arrive at is very simple, perhaps even more basic then we were expecting. The rooms face an open concrete courtyard, we are on the 2nd level and there are no railings to the concrete below so I am immediately on edge having the kids up there (plus there are no doctors or hospitals within a 3 hour boat ride). Our room is simple, 4 single beds with blankets only, no linens. It does have some nice windows and great views out to the fields. The family has not been expecting anyone so we wait about an hour for lunch to be prepared while watching the boys play with the little boy of the home. They throw old garden hoses around and they chase each other with a dead bird they found, it is all very primitive and frankly the lack of hygeine/safety makes me very nervous. There is an outhouse but no running water, the kitchen is a dirt floor and the mother sits on a stool near the wood burning stove while cooking. We cross our fingers and hope that the probiotics we've been taking sustain us! The lunch is a very nice vegetable soup with some cut cucumbers, tomatoes, fried cheese and potatoes. There are over 300 types of potatoes in Peru and they are part of virtually every meal (and many kinds at each meal). After lunch we walk to meet the rest of the people who were on the boat with us and we hike to the tallest lookout point on the Island. It is a steep walk and the boys luck out by getting a horse ride half way up. It is a beautiful view from the top but as the sun goes down, the temperature drops and we are freezing. The locals know this secret well and have strategically positioned themselves along the path so we all score new hats and gloves to keep us warm for the hike back! We arrive back to our home for dinner time, our guide is not well so goes to bed so we are left eating dinner with lots of smiles, nods and not a whole lot of conversation. It is so chilly that instead of changing our clothes we simply add to what we already have on and pile in bed (praying that no one has to go to the bathroom in the night!)
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