Things We’ve Been Giggling About Since Gradeschool
So. After much travel, we arrived in Puno. The bus ride was brutal, but Josh slept the whole time, giving me and Brett a chance to talk through some things and then just…talk. It was nice. Like old times, us giving each other relationship advice and teasing and being open.
But then Josh was a total dick to me at our hostel, so much so that I immediately signed up for an overnight tour that left at 7:30 the next morning, despite still being sick, just to get away from him. I may have also gone to a locutorio to call Kevin and cry. And then cried myself to sleep. Okay, yeah, both those things definitely happened. I was just so, so tired, Friends. So exhausted, and both Brett and Josh snore like chainsaws, and it is draining to stay positive in the face of so much cruelty and illness and stress. This was probably my lowest point, the point at which I most regretted having gone to South America in the first place. It was a long, dark night.
Sleep found me at last, however, and the next morning I was up and at ’em, on a boat with about a dozen strangers from all over the world.
Lake Titicaca, a place that my tittering eight-year-old self could never have dreamed I’d actually visit one day.
That green stuff growing in the water is totora, a reed that the people of Uros use to make just about everything, including their floating, movable homes and boats.
They have to continually replenish their islands, adding a new layer of freshly-cut totora over the top of the old dried stuff every week. You can also eat it, which of course I did. The taste is pleasant, somewhat reminiscent of jicama, but with a more fibrous, watery texture.
We stopped off at one of the islands, where we were given a demonstration (using miniatures) of life on Uros. They used to make domed houses, which last longer, but also take a lot longer to make. So now they make A-frame-type houses. They also make boats out of the totora, but filled with recycled plastic bottles, to help them float and cut down on the reeds needed, a detail that I found hopeful–using the trash of modern society to improve upon age-old trades and traditions.
All was not hopeful, however, as there was a pervasive sense that we were there to GIVE THEM MONEY. A lot of pressure to buy tchotchkies, trinkets, souvenirs, etc. Basically, the whole of Uros floating islands depends on tourism, and don’t they know it. It was sad to see them essentially whoring themselves out to a constant stream of tourists in an attempt to reconcile their culture with a modern economy and disconcerting (to say the least) to be seen as a walking ATM, though my fellow boat-mates didn’t seem to notice or mind.
When it was time to go, the women and girls of our little island for the day lined up to sing us a song, first in Spanish, then in Quechua (their native language). At the end, they said “Hasta la vista, babies!”
Everyone laughed, but I wanted to cry.
What can I say? I’m a sensitive gal.
I did, however, enjoy riding on a totora raft while young men from all over the world rowed and reclined, in turn, glistening in the sun.
Just so you know I’m well-balanced.