On Friday, we headed out for our trip around Lake Titicaca and its islands. Our tour had 20 people on it - from France, Switzerland, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Norway, and England. The boat moved pretty slowly, so there was time to talk - about healthcare, Obama's economic stimulus plan, traveling, and more. The French couple was from Bordeaux and worked in the wine industry; they had just finished a two-year job in San Francisco, also in the wine industry, and then had driven south to Panama City, sold their car, and continued touring South America by bus and plane.
Our first stop was on one of the floating islands. It was so cool - the islands are made of many layers of reeds, so htey float and can move around the lake. All the houses and other buildings are made of reeds. It reminded me of when I was little and visited my friend's lake - I tried to make an island out of grass - I guess I gave up too soon. :) We met some of the people on the island and went on a trip on a reed boat to another floating island. With little local industry to provide funds, tourism allows these people to have money to buy extra food and other things from Puno.
Our next stop was Amantani, where our group was split up into groups of tow and three to live with a host family for hte night. Jeff and I went "home" for lunch - potatoes, cheese, rice, and soup.
The large group met again in the afternoon to walk up to the highest point on the island - lots more inclined path and stairs - this time at 4000 meters.
Then it was back for dinner before an evening get together in traditional dress for traditional dancing. It was fun, but we were a bit tired.
We talked to our host dad over meals a couple of times. He hosts people a few times a month, more or less. He has never been to Cusco or even further than Juliaca (45 minutes away from Puno). He said during his grandparents' time, there were no tourists, but his generation has grown up with them. Everyone on the island does some farming, though some also do other jobs, like making the roads.
We slept in an extra room in the house - which seemed to have two other rooms - one for eating and one where the family slept.
It poured rain and thundered all night, though we were lucky to glimpse some amazing stars before it started - at the high altitude and with no light polution at all, you could even see the Milky Way!