Monday, May 6, 2013

Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca

Oh, where to begin?? I have so much to tell you!

First, yes it is pronounced Titi-caca! This has been hours of entertainment for us and I do mean h.o.u.r.s. At any given time someone will just go Titicaca!!! And we dissolve into giggles, because, yes we are 12 years old! Apparently the lakes name is from the Quencha language, not Spanish, a language that predates the Inca's. 

What's so great about Lake Titicaca (other than the name)? There are these floating islands that sounded very intriguing. Seven hundred years ago when the Incan's arrived in the Puno area a bunch of the people there took to their boats and fled into the reeds that cover a large portion of the lake. They ended up staying on the water, literally building islands that float. How cool is that?!? The reed roots float near the top of the water, which they then covered with cut up reeds, creating a base that floats several feet above water.

They are some super crafty people, using the reeds for everything. It's ground cover, they make houses with it, they eat the white fiberous portion at the end, and yes, they use it as fire wood too. Even on an island made of wooden reeds they have fire to cook with. Now, the reeds have to be replaced every so often and do require a lot of day-to-day maintence, plus they have to monitor the +4 anchors keeping the island from floating into Bolivia. 

The islands vary in size and number of families, the one we visited had 6 families living on it. They even have a primary school island! Two hundred years ago the people and their islands came out of the reeds, but have chosen to stay on their islands. 

After that really unique experience we went to another island, an actual island this time. We stayed on the island of Amanati, where people live like it's 1930. There are no cars, limited electricity and running water, and everyone is a farmer. Lisa, Ann, and I did a homestay and got to experience first hand how the people live. 

My first impression was that they are all tiny. Teeny teeny tiny. I don't think I saw anyone over 5ft. I've never felt so tall in my life! I was towering over people! There way of life just seems so simple and basic, but not in a bad way. They aren't chained to their iPhones or computers. There's no police, because there's little to no crime or violence. What they grow, they eat. 

I found both of these cultures to be incredibly fascinating. In a world where it's all about having the next great toy or car or phone it's refreshing to see people living in simpler terms. Yes, they work hard running their farms and I'm sure that lifestyle has its own ups and downs, like everything does. Despite the modern world, with all of its conveniences, these two cultures have chosen to continue with their old customs and ways. 

I get very introspective after experiences like this wondering how people chose to live like this in the world today. Could I chose to live like that and be happy and fulfilled? Where does ones happiness and fulfillment come from? Certainly not from gadgets, but our lives seem to be inexplicably intertwined with it all. I would love to say that, yes, I could leave all my worldly possessions behind and still be me and happy, but the truth is no, I don't think I could. Yet, I always walk away from seeing cultures like this wondering how we all could simplify life a little. It's not about giving up everything, but maybe more about slowing down and taking the time.

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