Although we have been back a couple of weeks now, it seems just yesterday we were in Peru and sailing across one of the most famous lakes in the world, Lake Titicaca. The lake is the highest navigable lake in the world at around 3800m above sea level, and for me was one of those ‘pinch myself’ moments, where I couldn’t believe I was actually there.
We started off the day with a boat trip across the gorgeous lake to meet ‘the reed people’. Actually called Uros, these people live these amazing islands made completely from reeds that float within the lake. We were greeted in the local language, Aymara, and were invited into the homes of the local people for a chat, they were such friendly people. We saw the local way of life, their homes and learnt a little about them, before looking at a few of their handicrafts. They made such beautiful things we couldn’t help but buy a few bits. They sung a some local songs (as well as a couple of well known English songs in their own special way) to send us off as we floated off into the lake on a boat, also entirely made from reeds.
After a day on the lake in the beautiful sunshine and a gorgeous lunch of local Lake Titicaca trout, we were whisked off to a village where we would be staying the night with our ‘Peruvian Mamma’s and Pappa’s’. Dressed in traditional clothes we introduced ourselves to our new families with a local dance which involved a lot of skirt-spinning and pom-pom flinging. I’m not sure how great we were at the traditional dance, but our new families seemed to enjoy it, although whether they were laughing with us or laughing at us is something we will never know.
We were lucky enough to then stay the night on this island of Lake Titicaca with a local family who lived at the very top of a steep hill on a farm. We followed our host, 20 year old Octavia into the darkness as we climbed through steep Peruvian farmland in the pitch black, still in our traditional dresses and suffering from the altitude, our local host must have thought we were so unfit as he scurried ahead as we stopped to catch our breath with every step due to the lack of oxygen there.
Finally we arrived to our new family home and shown our bedroom, we had a small room which was built from mudbricks and a corregated iron roof, although the family were quite obviously had very little, they had made an effort to make it comfortable with colourful blankets on the bed and some local handicrafts on the wall. Our little room had no running water, or a way to lock our door (we were given a metal hoe to prop against the door) but we made ourselves comfortable and got settled for the night. Later on our Peruvian ‘Mamma’ provided us a dinner of Quinoa soup, potatoes and rice and we tried to chat over dinner using broken Spanish and sign language. I have to admit, it was a little awkward but I think we managed to let them know how grateful we were for having us and for the food.
With not much to do on Lake Titicaca in the evening, we had with limited electricity, certainly no television and we couldn’t communicate in the same language, so we were tucked up in bed by 8pm, only to be awoken in the night by the biggest electrical storm I’ve ever experienced. The rain crashed down onto our metal roof and lightning bolts hit the ground only metres from our room. Knowing we were 4000m above sea level and under a metal roof we were terrified each time there was another bolt of lightening we thought it would be us, the noise of it all was deafening. The rain went on for ours and we both didn’t get a wink of sleep.
We were woken early the next morning to do our bit and help out on the families farm. Firstly we were asked to herd the sheep onto the land, which I particularly enjoyed, especially meeting the new addition to the family a very cute one month old lamb, who was thrust into our arms for a cuddle as we herded the other sheep. We then headed onto the land to dig potatoes, which was tricky with the altitude and in the heat, we realised how hard life is for these people as this is how they live their lives daily.
Overall, our homestay at Lake Titicaca was quite an experience. It was more challenging at times than I had imagined, especially not speaking the language, however, I’m so pleased we did it as it really was an adventure that we will never forget.
Next up on our Peru adventures, The Inca Trail…..!!