Visita a las islas flotantes de los Uros

Hola Diana:

¿Qué tal has pasado tus vacaciones de verano? Las mías han sido estupendas, he estado haciendo una ruta con mis padres por Bolivia y Perú.

Ayer viajamos desde Copacabana, en Bolivia, hasta Puno, a orillas del  lago Titicaca. ¡Es un lugar mágico!

¿Recuerdas que estudiamos el lago Titicaca en clase de español? Es un lago en los Andes Centrales situado entre Bolivia y Perú. Es el lago navegable más alto del mundo y ocupa el lugar 19º del mundo por superficie.

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La experiencia más impresionante fue la visita a las islas flotantes de los uros, una de las comunidades que vive en el lago. A unos 6 km del puerto de Puno (¡y a 3.812 metros sobre el nivel del mar!) se encuentra este archipiélago de 40 islas fabricadas con totora (una especie de junco que crece en los terrenos pantanosos de América del Sur). En realidad, por tanto, no son islas, son construcciones de totora que se asientan en el lecho del lago.

El sitio es bastante turístico pero es muy especial. Es como estar en otro planeta. Estas comunidades viven de la pesca, la venta de artesanía y el turismo.

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La totora es importantísima en la vida y en la economía de los uros: se utiliza también para fabricar los techos, paredes y puertas de las viviendas. Te preguntarás cómo se fabrica una isla con juncos… Nos explicaron que en la época de lluvia, las raíces de la totora salen a flote de forma natural. Los uros las cortan en trozos con sierras y las llevan hasta el pueblo. Allí ponen estacas de eucalipto en cada trozo de raíz y los unen mediante cuerdas. Eso forma la base de las islas. Además, con las totoras también fabrican su principal medio de transporte entre sus islas y el continente: las balsas. Otro de los usos de la totora, muy importante, es que cuando los tallos se secan los usan como leña para sus cocinas, cumpliendo la función de combustible. Además la utilizan como alimento, ya que al quitarle la corteza queda una sustancia blanca, fibrosa, prácticamente sin gusto, pero igualmente utilizada como complemento a sus dietas

También fabrican artesanías de totora, las cuales venden a los turistas que visitan sus islas… Cuando nos veamos te daré un pequeño regalito que compré para ti ☺

Un abrazo, Ana

Actividades:

  1. Busca el lago Titicaca en un mapa y describe su situación
  2. ¿Cuáles crees que son las principales dificultades de vivir en unas islas flotantes?
  3. ¿Te gustaría visitar las islas flotantes? Razona tu respuesta.
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Durmiendo en la isla de Amantaní

Hola Diana:

¡Este viaje me sigue sorprendiendo!

Ahora ya estoy en Lima y tenemos conexión a internet para poder escribir emails. Después de visitar la isla de los uros, fuimos en barco a la Isla de Amantaní, donde nos quedamos a dormir en casa de una familia (así es el turismo rural en Perú). La isla de Amantaní está formada por 10 comunidades, y nosotros nos quedamos a dormir en Santa Rosa.

Después de tres horas de viaje en barco, llegamos al puerto, donde estaban esperando todos los habitantes de la isla que alojan a turistas. Me llamó mucho la atención ver que los hombres visten de manera moderna, pero todas las mujeres van vestidas con ropa tradicional: falda amplia fucsia, camisa blanca con flores bordadas, chal negro con bordados en la cabeza y sandalias.

 

Nos quedamos en casa de una familia, Julio y María, que viven con sus tres hijos en una casita a la entrada del pueblo. La casita es sencilla, pero acogedora. ¡Y María guisaba muy bien! Cocinó una cena típica del lago Titicaca: sopa de quinoa, queso frito con papas, pollo y ensalada. La quinoa es un cereal típico de Perú, es parecido a las lentejas. ¿Lo has probado alguna vez? Está muy rico en la sopa o en ensalada.  Y para beber, mi bebida preferida: chicha morada. E InKa Cola, por supuesto.

amanti-boat-blog

En esta isla parece como si el tiempo se hubiera detenido. Las casas tienen electricidad con una pequeña placa solar, y en cada caso hay un solo wc. En la isla hay 3 colegios de primaria, y un  colegio de secundaria. Es una comunidad muy tranquila. Por supuesto, no tienen acceso a internet, y la mayoría de las casas no tiene televisión. Pero viven muy tranquilos y en equilibrio con la naturaleza… desde luego, no sufren de estrés como nosotros.

Por la tarde dimos un paseo con Julio y María para ver la puesta del sol desde  Pachatata, en lo alto de la isla. La visita de la puesta de sol desde allí es preciosa. Se ve el lago y al fondo, en la parte boliviana se ven los picos nevados de la Cordillera real boliviana.

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Te mando en este email unas fotos del lago para que veas que paisajes tan preciosos. Fíjate en el azul tan intenso del lago, y en los nevados de Bolivia al fondo.  (Llevo un gorro típico peruano porque, aunque hace sol, hace una temperatura fresca debido a la altitud).

 

Espero que estés disfrutando también tus vacaciones. ¿Dónde has estado? ¿Has podido practicar español, para que no se te olvide?

Un abrazo,

Ana

Actividades:

  1. ¿Por qué es interesante que un turista duerma en la casa de una familia peruana?
  2. ¿Has probado alguna vez la comida peruana? ¿Te gustaría probarla?
  3. Mira el video. ¿Te gustaría visitar la isla de Amantaní? Razona tu respuesta.

 

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Blind Dining Experience

We went to this weird restaurant for dinner tonight. On Saturday nights, they do blind dining. Yeah, that’s right, blind. When you get to the door, a person puts a blindfold on you, they ask you if you have any food allergies, and then someone takes you to your table.

At first I thought, what if they tried to put a rat in my mouth, or an eel? My attendant put his or her hand on my shoulder. I jumped about 10 feet in the air and knocked over my chair. I could hear the employees laughing in the distance. I felt really silly, but he or she helped me back into my chair. All this person wanted to do was get my attention to hand me a glass. I was so nervous, but I took a sip. It was just water. I felt even sillier after that.

We were sitting there for about five minutes when the first course came out. My attendant tapped my chin to tell me to open my mouth. I opened it a little and he or she tapped it again. I guess I didn’t open it wide enough the first time, so I opened up wider. This person pushed a spoon with something in my mouth. It tasted sweet yet savory. I could tell it had beef and I could taste something like raisin. It was good, so I waved my hands to ask for more. On the second bite I could taste corn and chicken. What kind of dish has meat, raisins, corn, and chicken? It was a strange combination, but somehow it worked. Yum!

Pastel de Choclo

I felt a breeze whish by me so I assumed my attendant went to get my second course. I was right, because the second breeze came about two minutes later. I could tell this course was something fried. It was cheesy and meaty and delicious. I was fed three of those things before I felt another whish. I wanted more, but I was starting to get full, so I had to save room for the main course and the dessert!

The main dish was the best! It was like a stew, just like my dad makes. It was hearty! I was sad when I could hear my attendant scraping the bottom of the bowl. The last bite was just as good as the first. I was feeling fat and happy. All that was missing was the dessert, and that came very quickly. Before I could pick the last piece of potato out of my teeth, the attendant was tapping at my chin, putting something sweet in my mouth. It was caramelly and gooey and just outright scrumptious.

Chilean Empanadas

After I polished off the last bite, the attendant took off my blindfold and gave me a menu. It was a guy. He explained everything I ate. The first course was a Pastel de Choclo, which is like a Shepherd’s pie but with a whipped corn topping instead of mashed potatoes. The second was Chilean style empanadas. The third was Cazuela, which is a Chilean beef stew. And for dessert, sopaipillas. They are basically pumpkin bread dipped in caramel sauce. I know I wouldn’t have ordered any of that stuff off the menu if I was looking at it, but I’m so glad I got to taste it all! Hats off to the chef and the person who thought of blindfolded dining. What a great way to try new foods!

Sopapilla desert

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Easter Island

It was finally here, our trip to Easter Island.  I was so excited I could hardly sleep.  We were all packed and ready to go.  Our plane left at 10 am.  All I could think about was how fascinating it would be to see the mysterious statues that cover the Island. There are more than 600 statues called Moai that are carved out of lava rock, and can you believe they are over 20 feet tall.  The carvings are all in the shapes of people and faces.   When we landed at Mataveri Airport we were greeted by the native people of the island.  They gave us a handmade shell and flower necklace and a van was waiting to take us to our hotel.

After about an hour, I was sitting in the lobby waiting for everyone else to come down. The whole time I was thinking, “get ready people!” We were about to take the most amazing tour and everyone was dragging their feet.  Finally after an hour and a half we left the hotel.

The sign on the side of the bus said “All Day Toor.” I thought that was cute, so I didn’t tell t he driver that his sign was wrong. So I got on the bus to take the “all day toor” around the island visiting several locations. First we went to Vaihu, a place surrounded by giant statues that have fallen face down. Then we also went to the Ruins of Akahanga where the statues were all in their natural condition; this is also where the first king of the island is buried.

Fallen statue at Easter island

During our “toor” I learned that the original name of Easter Island was Te Pito O Te Henua, which means “the navel of the world.” The original inhabitants wore tapa clothing, which is a bark cloth made on the Islands of the Pacific Ocean.  The Island gets over 46,000 tourists from Chile, Europe, the U.S., and Japan.  I was very glad to be counted in that number; we were having a great time.

The food on the Island was awesome but different.  I tried ceviche de pescado, which is raw tuna marinated with lemon juice.  I was scared to eat raw fish but once I tried it, it was great.  Rita ate a fish called nanue, which is an oily fish that was not very good.  I also had a completo (a hotdog) and my all time favorite sopaipillas (pancakes)!!!!!!!!

Easter Island Statue line

There is so much to see and do on this island. Thankfully we have three more days to try to see and do it all.  I can’t wait to get home and share this experience with my friends.  I got my best friends Donna and Gwen t-shirts with the statues on them and moai key chains.  I think they’ll want to come here after hearing how much fun we had.

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Sandboarding

I always thought of myself as an athlete. I’ve always picked up on any sport that I was introduced to, but sandboarding is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. We got up early in the morning to go to Valle de los Muertos, Chile’s version of Death Valley. The people who had been there the day before said we didn’t want to be out there when the sun was at its hottest, so we got up at dawn to head out to “Death Valley”.

As we were driving down the sandy road, the scenery was beautiful. Who would have thought that sand and rocks could be so amazing? Hot, but beautiful! I made sure to pack a couple of water bottles because I didn’t want to be like those people in the movies with dry mouths and scratchy throats from the heat.

We got out of the truck right around 8 a.m. It was already hot, and you could see the heat waves rising off the sand in the distance. I didn’t mind a little bit of heat, but I definitely didn’t want to be out there at high noon. The truck driver told us he would be back in four hours and he pointed to the top of the sand dune. I thought he must have been mistaken because that was the highest mountain of sand I’d ever seen. I thought to myself, “Is he serious? He really wants us to walk way up there?” But I didn’t want to be a party pooper, so I took a deep breath, took a swig of water, and hauled myself up the dune.

Going up a sand dune at the Atacama desert

I was the first one to the top, and when I turned around, I saw this endless desert. There were shades of brown, red, orange, and purple spread across the horizon. I was excited to be there and even more excited to try sandboarding for the first time. A few of us reapplied sunblock because we were sweating so much. I unpacked the sandboards and passed them around. They looked like a cross between a skateboard without wheels and a snowboard.

Sand boarder

After about 15 minutes we were all ready to roll, or rather, glide. We all lined up across the top of the sand mountain. Then we counted down, 3…2…1!, and pushed off. It was hilarious, because I only went about two feet before I fell! I looked up and no one had gone anywhere. We just assumed it would be like gliding down snow, but it wasn’t. It was much harder. By the time we got back up the dune to try again, there were other sandboarders. We watched their technique and tried to mimic it. By about 10:00, my legs and stomach muscles were on fire! By 11:00, my whole body was hurting. But I DID make it from the top of the dune all the way to the bottom without falling. At the bottom, I checked my watch and it said 11:27am. I figured there was no need to walk allllll the way back up, and I was HURTIN’! So I limped over to the meeting point and waited for the truck. All in all it was a great experience. I don’t know if I’d do it again, but it was great! J

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The Atacama Desert

We got to the airport really early this morning. I was half sleep, so when the lady checking us in for the flight asked, “Mountain or sea?” I was seriously confused. The only thing I could answer was “huh?” She laughed at me and said she gets that response all the time. Mountain or sea means, do you want to sit on the left side of the plane and have a view of the Pacific Ocean, or on the right side and have a view of the Cordillera, the Andes mountain range. Because there were so many of us traveling together, we will be spread out so we could choose both.  Personally I wanted to sit on the left side of the plane and see the Pacific Ocean.  I love to see bodies of water from the air. Oceans form different shapes, and from that high are so so so so so beautiful!

While we were on the plane I had some time to reflect on where we were going. Atacama happens to be the driest desert in the world.  Can you believe that some parts of this desert have had no recorded rainfall in over 400 years! Its geography is unique and includes lagoons, volcanoes, salt flats, geysers (shooting water/steam), hot springs, rivers and ravines, and saltpeter deposits. Earlier civilizations even left mummies, among the oldest in the World. I think it would be cool to see a real mummy up close. Of course, as you can tell, I did my homework on Atacama

Atacama desert

Once we arrived, we went straight to our tour (bags and all.) The first stop was the Tatio Geyser. Even though there are a lot of geysers in one area, none of them erupt very high.  The highest eruption observed has been around 20 feet high. The average geyser eruption at El Tatio is about two and a half feet. Wow, what a difference.  It is said that the best time to see these geysers is at sunrise when each geyser is surrounded by a column of steam that condenses in the cold morning air. The steam disappears as the air warms up. It is also possible to bathe in a small pool of hot geyser water. BUT, parts of the field are very dangerous with a thin crust over the almost boiling mud. That would be a cool experience as long as we know which pool is which. LOL!

Tatio Geyser at Atacama desert

I think this trip is going to be a true adventure and we will have tons of stories to tell when we get back.   But now all I can think about is the fact that the desert days are very hot and nights are very cold…WHAT AM I GOING TO WEAR!!!!!!!!!

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Volcán Villarica

Ok, it’s one thing to tell me we’re going hiking, but it’s another to tell me we’re going hiking on top of a snow-covered, ACTIVE volcano. It’s called Volcán Villarica, and it is in central Chile. I was excited to go. I was interested to see this marvel. So many contrasts in one place, and we were on our way there. As we were in the van, we passed by several beautiful places. There was a lake where the water looked like a mirror. It was almost black, but you could see a clear reflection. Then there was another small lake with a waterfall. I rolled down the window so I could hear the tranquil sounds. So peaceful!

I started to feel a little chill, so I knew we were getting close. Five minutes later, we stepped out of the van onto a dirt path at the foot of the volcano. A lady named Angela was there to greet us. She was our guide, and she also had the coolest Chilean accent! We all hung onto her every word. Angela started walking us up the trail and telling us about the Volcán Villarica. She said it’s about the size of Mount Saint Helens in Washington State. It’s also only one of four volcanoes that have an active stream of lava inside. That means when there is an eruption, the lava shoots out of the top and melts some of the snow. And the lava also causes rainstorms from the sulfur ash going into the atmosphere. Pretty interesting, huh?

Snow covered Volcán Villarica

As she was talking, I heard a crunch, so I looked down at my feet. Apparently we’d gotten far enough up the mountain to reach the snow. Angela kept talking, and we kept trekking up the volcano. I could see a sulfur cloud coming out the top of the volcano. The cloud appeared to be getting closer and closer, and the climb was getting steeper and steeper. When I looked back, I could see for MILES in every direction!

Finally, after hours of walking, we arrived at the moment of truth . . . the cone. I was debating if I was actually going to look down at the lava or admire it from afar. One by one, everyone else peered down a hole. I was a little nervous; with my luck, I would get hit by steam be bald like Andy. But I mustered up the courage to creep forward and look down. I took a quick peek and jumped back. That’s all I needed to see! From what I saw it looked like someone cut out the center of a mountain and poured in a little circle of orange liquid. It was pretty cool, but it was cold. So we hiked back down and went to get hot cocoa.

Volcán Villarica crater

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Iguazu Falls

The whole group took a bus early Friday morning from Buenos Aires to Iguazú (in north-eastern Argentina). We made a few stops along the way and finally we got to our hotel near the falls. The trek to Iguazú took about sixteen hours. With seat service, a hot dinner and breakfast provided, and on-board staff, the trip was more comfortable than I thought. Why aren’t the buses in the US this accommodating? Still, we were so tired from the long trip that we went straight to bed.  After we all had breakfast, we met our guide, Francisco, at the lobby of the hotel. He asked us: ¿Están listos para una gran aventura?” We all answered ¡Sí! Estamos listos! With more than 200 falls reaching heights of 200 feet, the power, the size, and the noise of Iguazú are simply spectacular!  (It sounded like one of those nature CDs that people buy to go to sleep, only live.) They are taller than Niagara Falls, twice as wide with 275 waterfalls spread in a horseshoe shape over nearly two miles of the Iguazú River.

Before visiting the Falls, Francisco took us to Safari Macuco, at the rainforest.  We saw the most amazing plants and animals there:  toucans, parrots, hummingbirds, and huge butterflies with bright colors. We also saw opossums, weasel, sloths and anteaters! WOW…This was all new to me; I had never been in a rainforest before. I must have taken millions of pictures (ok, not millions, but a heck of a lot).

Turist at Iguazu falls

During lunch, Francisco told us that the word “iguazú” came from a native language meaning “great water”.  There is an Argentinean side and a Brazilian side (Francisco says the Argentinean side is far more impressive, but then again, he’s from Argentina!)  The border with Paraguay is very close by. I was so excited! It was time to actually see ride around between the falls! I could hardly wait! All together we were 14 students plus a teacher, Srta. Pérez, and Francisco. We all got into this big inflatable boat and put our lifejackets on.  We began our tour around the falls. I was totally in awe, and so was the rest of the group!  It was unbelievable! Then we got closer and closer to the falls to a point where we were literally underneath them! Of course, we all got soaking wet. That was cool, but I was worried about my camera!  Luckily I put it in my bag right before it would have gotten wet. Janet was mad about her hair getting wet, but I offered to help her do it when we got back to the hotel.

Iguazu falls

That was a great adventure! We all went back to the hotel, tired and dripping wet, but very happy about our experience! We were advised to go to bed early because the long road trip back awaited us. Well, that didn’t happen.  All of us spent hours uploading our pictures and showing each other different shots. And of course Janet made me make good on my promise to help her with her hair. When we realized that we only had a couple of hours to get ready, everyone ran to their room, packed and met at the lobby. Needless to say, we all slept during most of the trip back.

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Mar del Plata

We just got back from a weekend at the beach. Even though I’m sunburned from head to toes, if it weren’t for the ruthless sun, I’d go every weekend! We went to Mar del Plata, the most famous beach town in Argentina. You can get there by plane, but we all went on the train. The trip was about 5 hours long. Half of the group slept during the trip, but I was taking pictures through the window the whole way. The scenery was amazing.  Once we got to Mar del Plata, we went directly to the hotel. I worked my “magic” on the cutie pie at the front desk, so we all got rooms with an ocean view and balcony! I’m still waiting for my thank yous, but I won’t hold my breath.

The beach was so crowded that we wondered how we were going to fit! I didn’t care because it’s winter back home and I definitively needed a tan! But while we waited for some space to open up, we walked around the city and had a bite to eat. After a few minutes of walking, we went into a pizzeria. I can honestly say that was the best pizza I have ever had. (I had heard that pizza in Argentina was famous, but this was beyond good!). There, at the pizzeria, the cashier told us we looked like tourists. We all laughed. He said that 700,000 people lived in Puerto Plata, but in the summer months (November to September) the town is full of porteños (people from Buenos Aires) and tourists who spend their vacation there.

Aereal View of Mar del Plata

Before we headed back towards the beach, we walked to the Museo del Mar. There was a HUGE collection of seashells from all around the world. There were thousands upon thousands! Some of them where really weird looking, other were so perfect that I wondered how nature could make all of this!

When we left there I was a little hungry, so I grabbed a couple of empanadas (Argentinean small meat turnovers) and headed to the beach. Most of the group was sunbathing and chatting with natives, the others were swimming or playing volleyball with some students from Buenos Aires they had just met.

It was really hot, so I left my backpack on the sand and went directly to the ocean. It felt really good. After a while I went back to where by buddies were and stayed with them until it was time to go back to the hotel.

That evening we all had dinner together at the hotel’s restaurant and went for a walk. Puerto Plata is so different at night! But it’s just as awesome…full of people, music, cafes, street artists…we all had ice-cream in this famous place. It was so, so good! And It cooled me down because my skin was on fire! We also had “alfajores” (cake sandwich with dulce de leche). I became addicted to them after that! The last thing we did before we went back to the hotel was to get some aloe from the pharmacy. I think even my teeth were sunburned L.

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Gauchos

Today was my favorite day so far in Argentina. We went to an estancia (ranch) in the countryside, not far from Buenos Aires. We all slept in the bus for the entire trip (we woke up at 6 am!) Once we arrived at the estancia, a man dressed in strange clothes was waiting for us with empanadas (little meat turnovers) and mate (an Argentinean version of tea). We later learned that the clothes he was wearing was that of the gaucho (Argentinean cowboy). He had a wide hat on, a poncho, loose baggy pants and knee-high leather boots. He also had a wide belt with silver coins on it, and a big knife they call the facon.

Gaucho with Traditional apparel

The owner of the estancia and three or four gauchos took us all to the area where the horses were. I’d seen horses before, but these were impressive!  One of the gauchos told us that they had 125 horses there. WOW! Each of us had the chance to ride a horse with the whole group lead by a gaucho.  I had been horseback riding once a long time ago, but most of my classmates had never ridden a horse, so there was a mixture of excitement and fear among the group. Once we came back we all loved it!

Gaucho Boleadoras

Then, a gaucho directed us to a huge open place made out of wood where there where long tables and chairs. There was a small stage and after we all sat down, three gauchos got on the stage along with two guys with drums. Then the show began. The gauchos began dancing to the rhythm of the drums and their boleadoras hitting the wood floor. Boleadora is a tool used by the gauchos, made out of stones, and bound in leather strips.This dance is called malambo and only men dance it. There were three or more gauchos on stage where they bounced the boleadoras in a circular motion at a high speed hitting the floor with one of them at a time. The boleadoras followed the beat of the music. Since I play the drums, this was especially interesting to me. I really, really loved it. The three gauchos hitting the floor combined their sounds to create something spectacular, but it also looked very dangerous. All the while they continued to tap on the floor with their boots. I don’t know how those men did not hit themselves or the other dancers with the boleadoras. It was absolutely amazing!

While we were watching the show, several men were cooking a typical Argentinean BBQ or asado just outside where we were. I was sitting close to the huge grill, so I managed to take some pictures. The grill was close to the ground, and they were cooking all kinds of meat. Finally it was time for lunch, and what a feast it was! The servers brought steak, chorizo sausage, blood sausage, and tenderloin–a true meat lovers’ dream. We were told that Argentinean meat is considered the best in the world…and it tasted like that to me!

Gaucho Barbecue

After the meal, we were directed to a place where we could sit to watch several gauchos demonstrate their horseback riding skills. I don’t know exactly what the game is called, but the way it works is that the gaucho and his horse go faster and faster down a dirt path towards a small golden ring hanging overhead from a string. When they reach full speed, the gaucho tries to “grab” the ring using a utensil about the size and shape of a pen or a pencil. Then they gave the ring to one of the girls in the group. I think this was their favorite activity of the day!

 

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