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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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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Soccer

I thought I loved soccer, but for Argentineans soccer or fútbol, as it is called in Spanish, is more than a sport, it’s a way of life! Everyone talks about soccer all the time, there is soccer playing on TVs in almost all the cafeterias and restaurants we have been. Ever since we got to Buenos Aires, everywhere we go we see children playing soccer in parks and in the streets. They play with worn-out soccer balls, cans, balled up socks, rocks or anything they could kick!  I learned yesterday that when Argentinean soccer star Diego Maradona was a child, he used to play soccer with stones wrapped with grass and leaves! Now he is considered one of the best soccer player of all time!

Ever since soccer arrived in Argentina in the 18 hundreds from England, it has become the  national sport. There are a lot of teams in Argentina, but the two main teams are Boca Junior and River Plate. They are eternal rivals or rivales eternos as Argentineans say! Most people in Argentina are either Boca fans or River fans.

This morning our we went to see the Boca stadium. WOW, it was amazing! It was a huge building painted with the Boca colors: blue and yellow. Argentineans call it “la bombonera”, the chocolate box.  I asked the bus driver, Manuel, why the Boca team chose those colors and he told me that in 1906, Boca decided to adopt the colors of the flag of the first boat to sail into the port at La Boca in Buenos Aires. This was a Swedish ship. That’s why the yellow and blue of the Swedish flag were adopted as the team colors. Cool, huh? River’s team colors are red and white. They also have a huge stadium in Buenos Aires. Actually, it is the largest stadium in the country and people call it “el monumental.”  Manuel also told me that the games in which Boca and River play each other are considered a must see. It’s like the “Subway Series” in New York and almost impossible to get tickets. Everyone, adults and children, women and men, rich and poor go to this game.

La Bombonera Stadium

There were many shops that sold all kinds of things related to Argentinean soccer right across from the Boca stadium. I bought a River jersey for my brother and a Boca jersey for myself because I liked the colors and the story behind them.

Now I’m in my hotel room and I cannot wait to wear my jersey and play at the park with Argentinean kids. I think I’ll do that tomorrow afternoon. Bettina, the hotel clerk, told me that getting tickets to a Boca – River game is really, really hard. Oh…how I wish I could magically get some tickets to tomorrow’s match! Well…I guess the next best thing to being there would be watching the game at the cafeteria across from the hotel the Argentinean soccer fanatics!

Boca Junior’s fans at La Bombonera

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Buenos Aires

I never thought that the trip to Buenos Aires was going to take so long!  I had never been on an airplane for such a long time! I watched two movies, listened to music, walked up and down the aisles… you name it! I couldn’t go to sleep, like everyone else, because I just couldn’t wait to get here!  Then I remembered my grandpa had given me a little booklet about Argentina. It said that the word argentina comes from the Latin argentum, which means sliver (then I remember Chemistry class the sign for silver is Ag!), so Argentina means “land of silver.”  I also learned from my book that the river that runs through Buenos Aires is called Río de la Plata (river of silver), and that it’s the widest river in the world. Buenos Aires is Argentina’s capital city. The words “buenos aires” literally mean “good airs/winds.” I thought that was pretty cool.

We landed around 6:30am. I was tired but looking forward to seeing new places and meeting new people. A bus picked us up at the airport and took us to our hotel. Our host told us to meet her at the lobby at noon, and that was perfect for me because I wanted to unpack and take a little nap before we went out exploring. That nap went by real quick, and before I knew it, we were all there in the lobby again.

From the hotel we all walked to Plaza de Mayo, the main square in the city where La Casa Rosada is. The Casa Rosada is the same as the White House, except that the President chose not to live there. We took tons of pictures at the Casa Rosada and the Plaza de Mayo; then we all went to lunch to a nearby little restaurant.  That food was incredible!  My grandpa told us that Argentinean meat and pasta are famous all over the world, now I know why! I really liked the desert that was recommended to us by the waiter: flan with dulce de leche…WOW!!! I could have eaten four of those!

Plaza de Mayo

After lunch, we all went back to the hotel. We were all pretty tired from the trip and from walking around the plaza. Even though it was only about 4pm when we got back, I went to sleep right away! Then I woke up at 8pm because someone was knocking on my door. Come to find out, we had to meet our host downstairs for a city tour in a half hour. City tour? Really? I was delirious going down the elevator, but I wanted to be a good sport and stay with the group.

Plaza at Buenos Aires

A bus was waiting for us right outside. On the bus, our host took the microphone and explained to us everything we saw. One of the coolest things we saw was Buenos Aires’ famous obelisk (it looks like the Washington Monument) which is in the middle of the widest avenue in the world: Avenida Nueve de Julio. The guide told us that this monument honors Argentina’s independence from Spain on July 9th, 1816.  After the tour we all had dinner at the hotel and went to our rooms. We have to wake up early tomorrow morning, so I’m going to bed soon. Even though I’m really sleepy now, I’m glad I went. Buenos Aires is beautiful at night, and it was worth losing a little sleep.

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