Thursday, April 5, 2012
So we wake up after an amazingly good night’s sleep in a strange bed with a still warm rock at the foot of it and we go into the dining room and have a wonderful breakfast of fresh fruit and coffee! Our host, still dressed in her traditional native garb sees us out and down to the docks. We also left her with an amount of Peruvian Pesos but I can’t remember the amount after all these years and it’s not important. Just to know that we did. Our private 50 passenger boat is there with our guide and driver, their names have also eluded me now. They take us down the shore to another dock a mile away and we disembark for our next planned adventure. You can see by the photos what it is comprised of.
Now would be a good time to call us crazy! We are 59 years old and getting into sea kayaks for a 4 mile journey out to Taquile (pronounced Ta-kee lay) Island! Now add to that idea that the surface of Lake Titicaca is at 12,500 feet above sea level (3810 Meters for our friends around the world) and it is a given that breathing is challenging sitting still on dry land at this altitude! But not to worry! We can DO this! So we get suited up and get in the kayaks and get the sea boots sealed up. I have even put my camera in an underwater case for photos! But the exertion is such that not many photos get taken. My camera sobs with disappointment. Okay, so paddling… And paddling some more. I look back. Wow, we are about halfway as the shore in front and the shore in back look equidistant. But I am exhausted. I can rest here for a bit. Just stop paddling and rest for a few minutes. But I didn’t estimate the size of this lake. Calm waves are 18-24 inches. When you stop, they wash over you. It is severely uncomfortable. Have to paddle on… Is this silly excursion going to be my demise? Why am I thinking stupid thoughts?
No, the solution is to paddle on. Wait, I’m feeling better. I think this is what you call ‘getting your second wind’. Okay, I can do this! I paddle and set my sights on the shore ahead. Paddle, damn it! I get into a rhythm and calmly paddle and paddle and paddle. Did I mention that our private 50 passenger boat AND and a small power boat are powering on each side of us? No, I guess I didn’t, LOL. We have never been in any danger. Our guide is in a kayak with us! At the instant we get in trouble, we have a rescue kayak, a power boat and a passenger boat at our rescue. But my story sounded so good, didn’t it?
Well, anyway, I get to shore on Taquile Island first. Our guide actually struggles to catch me because he wants to be ashore first to assist us out of the kayaks! The guide tells us we are his slowest clients. We tell him our ages and ask him if we are his oldest clients and he laughs and says we are!
So now that we are totally exhausted, Our guide suggests lunch and we heartily agree! He says lunch is up on top of the island. What we don’t understand yet is the top of the island is 1200 vertical meters up or 4000 feet which puts the top of the island at 16,500 feet (5030 meters) which is the highest altitude of the entire trip! At least the path is somewhat smooth. So, after exerting yourself in kayaks for 4 miles at high altitude, how do you climb this path? Simple, one foot after the other! So we climb and climb and climb. There are no vehicles on this island, everything is foot powered. We see several people and sights along the way and our cameras do their best to capture the good shots!
We make it to the town on top and think, “Wow, we’re here!”. But there is still another 300 vertical meters to go (1000 feet). So we plod along and Elee almost doesn’t make it. I help her and we walk slowly together and sure enough, we finally come to Restaurant Flor de Rosa and find seats for lunch. This trip was 9 years ago and what we ate eludes me, but getting here was the memory! We even came across a vendor selling raw meat just laying out on a tarp!
So now our bellies are satisfied, it is time to go back down to the lake. Lucky for us, Elee’s knees were in better shape back in 2012 so going down is stressful, but not impossible! We pass many people both on the way up and the way down. One thing our guide explains to us is the color of the tassels that both the men, women, and children wear. They define the marital status that you have and whether or not you are of age and/or available! A young lady who is 18 and single wears a white tassel. A married adult male wears a red tassel with blue strings in it. A young lady under 18 wears a blue tassel to signify she is to young to be betrothed. The rest of the colors are forgotten to me.
We make it to the Lake and board our 50 passenger boat for the trip back to Puno. we witness sunset as we pass back through the Islands of Uros and it has been a good, yet exhausting day! One of the last sights we see is a cloud shaped like a bear, fun to see!
So we check back into our hotel for the night and we’ll see you in the morning!