Monday, 9 January 2012

Goodbye El Peru

The Uros Islands are a wonder. People living on little islands made of something like hay that is soft and spongey, and where, if you fall out with neighbours, you take out the anchor and float somewhere else. Six to seven families share an island and when young people marry they make a new one with others. There are over 60 islands and 2,000 Uros people. Amantani is further in the middle of the Lake Titicaca - it's the second highest populated place after Tibet. And it feels extreme. Surrounded by a (sea) lake, freezing temperatures, a scorching sun, barely any animals. And you see lots of women with their children but no men. Where are they? In the cities working. The people here are largely vegetarian due to the lack of access to meat. I have so much access to everything I need and want that it's a surprise to see people living without their husbands, fathers, meat, showers, hot water and who knows what else. Here we stayed with Basilia and her children. She was so untalkative and uninterested that I thought she was really rude, but with a little time I began to understand she has a whole other way of being. No questions, no conversation, very few words in general! She was actually really sweet, and danced with us when we went to this outrageously touristy dance thing dressed up (get a bucket). When we left she gave me kisses and I realised how different we can all be.
     On Amantani we walked up to Pachamama (Mother Earth) and followed the tradition of picking up four stones and walking around the ruins three times to the left. The stones represent health, love, work and wisdom, and you have to make a wish for each as you walk around, before leaving the stones at the door. It felt good thinking of my wishes and focusing on what I want. It focuses your energies and makes you think about what is really important, and what you really, really want.
     In Taquile, apparently, the men don't need to leave because this island thrives on tourism. Then you step on it and they charge you an entrance fee and a fortune for lunch and you can see why!
     On our last day in Peru we went to Sillustani where pre-Incan tombs in the shape of towers were made with huge stones and built on top of mountains. There are loads of them, dare I say hundreds, and they were once filled with VIP's remains, along with gold, silver and other artefacts, until the Spaniards came and looted it all. There are other phallic ruins (yes, stone penises) in Chocuito, but I'm sorry to say we missed them. Maybe Jesus' mother Mary went to see them because they say you just need to sit on one to get pregnant. :-)