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.

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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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Machu Picchu

One of the places that I wanted to visit the most during my stay in Perú was Machu Picchu, the famous Inca city, built around 1400. The words “machu picchu” are Quechua for “old mountain.” The Incas built a pathway between Cuzco and Machu Picchu now called the Inca Trail. Lots of people walk this trail, but we, like most people, took the train from Cuzco.

When we got to the train station closest to Machu Picchu, a van was supposed to be waiting for us to take us up the hill, but there was no van. That meant that we had to hike up the mountain… with our stuff! And so we bought some water in Aguas Calientes, got our backpacks, and headed on up the mountain along with other tourist and locals.

It was humid, foggy, and I was sticky. Ewww!!!!  By the time we all got up there it was around 10am, just in time for a new tour to start. We bought our tickets and followed the guide for a short hike. We walked single file on a very narrow dirt path for about ten minutes. On the side of the hill where the hotel was, we made a slight left, and WOW!! There it was!!! Machu Picchu, before my eyes! The view was unbelievable. I just stood there for a couple of minutes. I just couldn’t move! For a second I thought I was hallucinating! I had seen many pictures, but nothing, NOTHING, compares to being there!

Someone finally pushed me a little and I snapped out of it. I had to jog a little to catch up to the group. Continuing with the tour, our guide would stop every so often to tell us more about this mysterious place. . I was taking pictures the whole time, and tried my best to write down as much as I could in my little travel notebook.

So I learned that Machu Picchu was abandoned as an official site for the Inca rulers a century or so after it was built, all during the time of the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire. Then the site was “lost” for centuries.  Then in 1911, when Yale professor Hiram Bingham, aided by locals, “discovered” “the Lost City of the Incas.” That is when Machu Picchu gained international attention.

After the tour was over, three of us wandered off the path and took pictures of ourselves using the incredible scenery as a backdrop. There were a couple of llamas peacefully hanging out, laying on the grass in one of the many terraces. I gave my camera to Diana for her to take a picture of me with the llamas. Well, that didn’t go too well. No one told me that llamas spit! This peaceful looking animal made the weirdest sound and spit at me. I had this GREEN stuff all over my jacket. It smelled so, so bad! Needless to say, the other two fell on the grass laughing, so hard that they couldn’t catch their breath. Thanks llamas, way to ruin my jacket and my trip to Machu Picchu!!!!!

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Cuy

One of the guys that work at the hotel invited me to eat dinner with his family. His name is Pablo and he’s really nice. I was nervous about eating at someone’s house, but Pablo assured me that it was going to be a normal experience and that there was nothing to worry about. So I got dressed and met him in the lobby.

Peruvian colored corn

When I got to the house I saw that Pablo’s family made a special dinner for me and invited a few of their friends too. They are all so nice! Pablo’s mom told me that she would cook a typical Peruvian meal. Again, I felt nervous because I’m not used to eating food from other countries, but I was excited at the same time. The first thing she put on the table was a salad made with the biggest corn kernels I have ever seen!  That was awesome. Then she brought a big plate with all these different kinds of potatoes. There were all kinds of shapes and colors: round, rectangular, twisted, hooked at the end like walking canes or spiraled like spinning tops, yellow, red, blue, purple, violet, pink with yellow spots, yellow with pink spots. I didn’t know there were so many kinds of potatoes!

Pablo’s dad said that the Europeans found the potato here in Peru when the conquistadors came in the sixteen hundreds. He also said that the Incas cultivated it in the highlands and near Lake Titicaca, the highest lake in the world. He also said that potatoes have been eaten in Perú for at least 8,000 years! Pablo’s sister said that their name in Quechua, the Inca language, meant  “best black woman,” “best red woman,” “makes the daughter-in-law cry,” “like a deer’s white tongue,” “red shadow” and “like an old bone,” and some other names that I can’t remember right now.

Examples of Peruvian Potatoes

She also said that scientists have classified more than 2,000 types of potatoes!! (I wonder how they remember their names!), and that there is a researcher named Carlos Ochoa who everyone calls the “Indiana Jones of the potato” who has found 80 types of wild potatoes.  It was amazing to learn all this about potatoes while I was eating them!

Then they brought the main dish. It was some kind of meat I had never seen before. Honestly, it looked a bit strange to me, so I asked what it was. Pablo’s mom laughed and told me that I should try it before knowing what it was. So I took a deep breath, cut a piece and ate it. It was actually good! Then I asked her what kind of meat it was. She said “se llama cuy,”, and that it was a typical food from the Andean region. For some reason, Pablo and his sister were laughing. I asked them to tell me exactly what it was.

Grilled Cuy a peruvian delicacy

They said it was like a cross between a hamster and a guinea pig. I must made some sort of funny face because everyone was laughing at the table. Then I took another deep breath and said: “Well, it tastes good and I am hungry!” So I ate my cuy along with the multi colored and multi shaped potatoes and the gigantic corn kernels. That meal was definitely different! But hey, I’m supposed to try new things, right?

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The Cathedral

It was late last night when the plane landed in Lima. I was so tired I fell asleep on the car ride to the hotel. I think I may have been sleep walking, but I surely don’t’ remember getting out of the taxi and getting into my bed.

The next day a van picked us up and took us to the center of the city. We walked around for a while, then we went into a cathedral and joined a group of tourists led by a guide who spoke English. She told us that the San Fransico cathedral was built in the 16th century. I had never seen anything like it before. It was AWESOME! Then we went underneath the church. There were these dark and cold tunnels and spaces filled with hundreds and hundreds of human bones organized into types; so one area had a big pile of arm bones, and another had a big pile of skulls and so on.  They were all arranged to form some sort of structure.  This was the creepiest place I have ever seen yet I found it so incredible that all I could think of was taking lots of pictures to show my friends and family at home. Somehow I got separated from the group. I guess I just wandered off taking pictures. When I turned around I realized that I was alone. “Where did everyone go?” – I kept asking myself.

San francisco cathedral at Lima – Peru

I began to search for my friends and for the group but there I was with all these bones, by myself and with no idea how to get out! I walked around for a little while, but the tunnels seemed never-ending. So then I looked up and saw some familiar shoes through a small vent on the ceiling and began to yell: “Hey!!!” I was hoping that one of my friends would recognize my voice and show me how to get out of that creepy place. I kept yelling and luckily my yell was loud enough because the tour guide heard me. She looked down and said “¿Qué pasa?” with a smile. I heard everyone behind her laugh. I didn’t think it was so funny at the time, but looking back it was hilarious!

Bones underground the San Francisco cathedral

She told me what to do to get out of that place. I had to go up these unbelievable spiral steps. The guide said that she would go get the keys that would open the door at the top of the stairs. When I reached the door she was there. I was so happy to finally get out that I gave her a twenty dollars tip! All of a sudden it hit me how cool this place actually was! I was just downstairs in a church with hundreds of bones, beautiful pathways, and a spiral staircase, ALL UNDERGROUND!

Finally, I went looking for the group, but I could not find them anywhere inside the cathedral. I thought that they must have been worried and were probably looking for me. I went outside and to my surprise they were all sitting on the steps in front of the cathedral waiting for me. I told them what had happened to me and they laughed and laughed at the thought of me being down there with all those bones spending the night! I will never forget my experience underground Lima!

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Cuzco

I am in one of the most important cities in the Inca Empire. My adventures in Cuzco began on the flight here. Because Cuzco is in the Andes, the view of the snow-capped mountains was unreal!  The second I set foot in the airport I got this intense headache and I felt short of breath. Then I had to run to the bathroom because I was getting sick. I came out of the bathroom, everyone said I looked like a ghost! They said I had bad case of “sorochi”, the Quechua word for the symptoms most visitors feel during their first few hours at Cuzco because of its altitude (almost 11,000 feet above sea level!) Cuzco is one of the highest cities in the world, so takes some getting used to — especially if you just got in from Lima, at sea level.

We took a cab to our little hostel in the center of town. I was in the back seat and everything was spinning! That wasn’t fun at all! After a couple of hours of rest in my room, I started to feel better. I went downstairs for a soda to calm my stomach and everyone was already down there, chatting with the hostel owner. The owner said that the best thing to do in Cuzco on the first day is take it easy and walking around. So that exactly what we did, walk around the cobblestone streets of Cuzco.

Cobblestone street in Cuzco

This place is amazing; there are pre-Columbian, Inca architecture; Spanish buildings from the time of the conquistadors; and then modern buildings. Legend has it that Cuzco is designed in the shape of a puma, considered sacred by the Incas. Cool, Huh?!

We walked to the narrowest street in Cuzco called Calle Siete Culebras (the street of the seven snakes). Its tall walls, built by the Incas in pe-Colombian times, were decorated with seven snake carvings. A man on the street challenged me to find as many snakes as I could. I took a step back and began counting. That was really cool; the Incas carved snakes on this wall along with other things so that they were not easy to find. And they were not!

As we wandered the streets of Cuzco, we saw women and men walking alongside a llama, women waving much like Incas did centuries ago, and children selling flowers, local crafts, and many other interesting things. I bought my sister a pendant with the Incan symbol for the “Pacha Mama,” Quechua for Mother Earth. I paid just a few soles for it. I bought myself the most awesome alpaca sweater, woven by hand. I love the design on it.

Catedral de Santo Domingo at the Plaza de armas

Then we walked around the Plaza De Armas. It is surrounded by four churches, which were built centuries ago. We went into two of them. The most impressive was the Catedral de Santo Domingo, also called the Catedral de Cuzco. It was built in colonial times. I was blown away by the amount of gold and silver inside!

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Paracas

El Candelabro sand formation

This morning started with a 6am wake up call, bags in the lobby by 6:45am, and on the bus to leave by 7am. It took us about 3 hours to get from Lima to Paracas, a place I had always wanted to visit. It is a peninsula south of Lima.  The drive was interesting. We were driving on a road with desert on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other!

We got to Paracas around 11:00am, dropped our stuff at the hotel, and went out for lunch. I was starving! The guide told us that you can eat the best ceviche in Perú here in Paracas. We all went to a little restaurant by the ocean and had ceviche. I wasn’t too keen on eating raw fish, but the guide said that it was marinated in lime or lemon juice with olive oil, onion, cilantro, and other spices. The acidic juices cook the fish, so it’s not really raw. It was weird to hear about it, but once I tried it I loved it!

After lunch, we went to a place called the candelabro. It was spectacular! It’s a huge sand design on a dune that resembles a candlestick. We saw a million birds all gathered together; it may have been more. Really, everything here is just incredible. The best part, and the last thing I was expecting, was the guide surprised us with dune buggies. Who would have imagined that I would be riding in a dune buggy and zooming down a huge sand dune on a fast board? That was cool!

At around 4:00pm we went to the Paracas Bay where we took a boat (deslizador) to see the Ballestas Islands. We weren’t allowed to get off the boat because

Wildlife at The Ballestas islands

Peruvian authorities want to prevent tourists from disturbing the animals that live there. I didn’t understand what they were talking about, disturbing the animals. I LOVE animals and this place was full of them in their natural habitat! But when we turned the corner I understood what they meant. We saw sea otters, South American fur seals, sea whales, dolphins, sea lions, leatherback and green sea turtles, and many more marine animals. There were soooooo many of them! I don’t think we could have walked around anyway. It was crazy how all the different animals were all just there and chillin’ in their own world.

After this short trip, we drove around the National Reserve of Paracas where there are different rock formations like the catedral. We saw tons of birds, like sea condors, pelicans, flamingos, black skimmers, blue-footed boobys, black-faced ibis, and many others. I seriously had to ask what kind of animals they were because I’d never seen them before back home.

La Catedral Cliff

Then we went back to our hotel after a full day of adventures. What an unbelievable experience to be able to see all these animals in the wild! I’ll never forget Paracas.

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Fiesta de la Virgen de la Candelaria

Did you know there are almost 3,000 celebrations in Peru each year? That’s almost 10 a day! How do Peruvians keep up with all those celebrations? I knew when I first found out about all these celebrations that I had to go to at least one. I did a little research and found the perfect one for me, the Fiesta de la Virgen de la Candelaria near Lake Titicaca on the border of Peru and Bolivia.

People told me this festival starts on February 2nd and lasts eight days. Can you imagine celebrating for eight days? That sounded awesome to me! So I got together a few of my fellow travelers and we hopped a bus to Puno. They say Puno is the Folkloric Capital of Peru. That’s interesting, but I wanted to know how that played a role in the observation of this festival. I bumped all the way to Puno (literally, because the bus ride wasn’t so smooth).

Aerial view of Puno – Peru

When we got to Puno, it was a little gloomy, and I didn’t see any signs that an eight-day celebration was about to take place. We decided to go to the hotel and unpack. I ended up falling asleep watching TV, but my nap was interrupted by the sound of a crowd roaring. Apparently the festival came together while I was snoozing, so I rushed to get outside.

There was a parade with so many bright colors passing right by my hotel! Everyone was following the processional, which was led by a huge statue. I imagine it was on a car or something, but I couldn’t see because of the crowd. People were playing folk music and others were dancing in the streets. It was a big street party that slowly moved towards the center of town. The energy was so amazing, I couldn’t help but follow!

We finally arrived at the center of town, and the crowd moved to one side to what appeared to be a stage area. This was where a dance exposition was going to take place. Dance groups came out with their brightly colored, elaborate costumes and danced to the folk bands playing behind them. One group even came out dressed as dragons, masks and all. To me, the dances were like a cross between country line dances and folk dancing. There was lots of hopping, skipping, and turning. Each group member was really in sync, and it looked like they had been practicing for months to pull off such spectacular performances. I’m not even into country or folk music, but I really enjoyed the performances.

Virgen de la Candelaria religious procession near Puno – Peru

I looked to my left and saw that all my travel companions had made it to the dance performance. I was happy they made it, but I was even happier to know that we still had so many more days together to see what else the festival had in store for us.

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