Our Lovely Hosts
After Christmas had passed, we were more than ready to escape from Puno. Our main reason for coming to this region was to visit some of the local traditional communities in the area around the lake. Our first stop was to the Capachica Penninsula, where there are a handfull of tiny communities hugging the rocky mountains wich rise up out of the lake. Besides being nestled in such a gorgeous and untouched landscape, these communities are very infrequently touristed and the only accomodation available on the penninsula is homestay- which of course, is much of the fun!
One of Peru’s top tourist attractions (after Machu Picchu) is the floating reed islands of Uros. We were less than excited about traveling to Uros, but of course we felt that we couldn’t come to Lake Titikaka without visiting this famous sight… The Islands have become very commercial, now relying entirely on tourism for thier existence and livelyhood. Still, thanks to the trusty Polaroid, this short visit was due to be one of the most memorable interactions with local people so far! One of the woman caught sight of my camera and asked about it- Of course, being a good photographer (and a mediocre Spanish speaker), I opted for a demonstation. It caused such a stir that soon all the islanders had gathered around each one yelling ‘Amigo, a mi, por favor!’ One after the other, I shot off the last of the pack of film, which regrettably I didn’t even get copies of before our boat was ready to leave… But the islanders were all so pleased with the unexpected souvenirs brought by the gringos, I’m happy to settle for memories!
Lena on the Peke-Peke
From the highland of Cusco, we headed east for the sweltering jungle port town of Puerto Maldonado. Lena was less than excited, with the prospect of heat and mosquitoes awaiting her. We spent almost two weeks, sweating in hammocks, swatting bugs of all shapes and sizes, riding in rickety canoes called Peke-Pekes headed for strange jungle settlements miles from any roads… I will even admit: It wasn’t the most comfortable two weeks of my life, but it did provide an interesting glimpse at jungle life- The real thing; where everyone’s uncle is a Shaman, small-scale gold mining is the main source of income, and platanos (bananas) are the main source of nutrition.