Monday, January 26, 2009

The birthplace of the sun

Lake Titicaca is situated on the border of Bolivia and Peru, lying 3,812 m (12,500 ft) above sea level, which makes it one of the highest navigable lakes in the world. Ancient myth has it that the first Inca, Manco Capac, rose from a crag on one of the Islands, and that the lake is the Sun's dwelling place.

Primarily Titicaca is known for the Uros, a group of 42 or so inhabited artificial islands made of floating reeds. However there are also natural islands on the lake, one of which, AmantanĂ­, I visited, staying with a local family. The Island is truly stunning, with no cars or roads, overseen by two mountain peaks with Inca ruins, called Pachatata (Father Earth) and Pachamama (Mother Earth). The hillsides that steeply climb up from the lake from the lake are planted with wheat, potatoes, and vegetables, the fields still worked by the hands of the local Quechua speaking community. Cattle, sheep, and alpacas graze all around.

I don't have many photographs of the lake as I was on a moving boat most of the time, nor of the scenery of the Island I stayed on. But I do have photographs of the family I stayed with, who were wonderful smiley, warm people. My favorite is of Kelly, a little girl of 6 who wants to grow up to be a dancer, peeking through a door when I went off to watch a game of Islanders v Tourists high altitude football (tourists won, apparently a rare occurrence!). In my broken Spanish we got on very well, and I was showered with hugs and kisses when I left. Our 'Mama', Gladys, looked after us well, cooking amazing locro soup and vegtables and rice, with a ready supply of cocoa tea to help with the altitude sickness, all under the watchful eye of Grandmama (pictured in my previous post) and the solemn gaze of Kelly's cousin David.

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