Monday, November 12, 2007

The Lake Effect

This is a long overdue entry, but in my apparent efforts to bolster tourism to and around Peru (or at least to provide incentive for more visitors to us), I thought posting it now was definitely better than never.

Shortly after our adventures on the chocolate ribbon that is the Amazon, we took a weekend jaunt to the city of Puno on the banks of Lake Titicaca. As my readers should expect by now, the following are some facts about the lake for those interested. At more than 12,500 ft elevation, Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world. And, if you are measuring by volume, it is also the largest lake in South America (though, as you might have learned from previous posts, Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela is traditionally considered the largest lake on the continent). It is located on the borders of Peru and Bolivia and at its deepest point is more than 930 feet deep.

After flying into Puno (the airport is actually in a town called Juliaca) several things are immediately evident. 1) 12,500 ft above sea-level is VERY, VERY, VERY high and the change in altitude is more than noticeable. You can take altitude sickness pills to counteract the effects, but the shortness of breath, sleeplessness and dull headache usually persist in spite of the medication. 2) Puno is ugly and apart from its proximity to the lake, forgettable. 3) Lake Titicaca is an indescribably beautiful shade of blue and overwhelmingly vast.

Various islands dot the surface of the lake including Taquile, which we visited. Roughly 2000 people live and work on the island. We reached it by speedboat and then climbed, really slowly, to the top of the island and the main square where the residents congregate each day awaiting the arrival of tourists and supplies.

The most interesting part of our visit was the Uros islands, a series of literally floating islands constructed of reeds. The reeds are tamped down to form a solid base that must be replenished every 3 weeks. These same reeds are also used in the construction of all houses, communal structures and boats. These islands and the people who continue to live on them were fascinating. There are over 20 unique islands in the group and because they are floating can be moved throughout the lake if a change of location is desired or required.

Finally, we crossed the border into the town of Copacabana in Bolivia which feels a lot like Tijuana. While in Copacabana we did some shopping, sampled the local "popcorn" and visited a few historical sites.


Paige said...

Any place with called Titicaca has got to be good, esp. if you are a 7 year old boy.

Brown Sugar said...

Why is kaleb more traveled in the first year of his life that I will ever be? Do you need a nanny?

Celia Fae said...

Beauty shmuty. I want to see a picture of the maid.

Ilene said...

Okay, do you know these things off of the top of your head or do you recite some kind of tourist pamphlet? Please say you consult some kind of tour guide, even if you don't. It will make me feel better about my own ignorance.

I'm also thinking boys of any age would have fun with the word Titicaca.

Ilene said...

This is the conversation I JUST had with Dan after my previous comment.

Me: You know there is a lake in Peru called Lake Titicaca?

Dan: You didn't know that?

Me: No, did you?

Dan: Yeah. I guess it [the lake's name] is more popular with boys.


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