10 July 2006

best name for a lake EVER

i'm going to try to keep this blog up to date on all of the latest photo-op moments south america and i have. to that end, here's my last couple days, on lake titicaca. do you recall that the lake is the highest navigable body of water in the world? to be exact, it sits at 3.8 km above sea level. and it is massive--over 8000 square kilometers. i took a tour that let me visit two of the main islands as well as some of the floating islands and spend the night with a family. here are some pictures.

the first place we visited were the islas flotantes de uros, or the uros floating islands. the story is that a long time ago these crazy incans were coming along and crushing all non-incan socities in their way. so the uros decided on the perfect plan to save their culture: they piled reeds on top reed roots until they had themselves some floating islands.
the incans probably saw the uros solution and decided when you want to rule an entire continent you have to pick your battles, and that maybe they'd be better off without the people who came up with that brilliant solution in their empire. unfortunately, their plan totally backfired many years later in the face of the great cultural flattener and equalizer: tourism. so now they just sit around floating on the water while they wait for tourists to come and buy things made out of reeds. the tourist industry has much lower standards than the incans did.

here's the sun setting over the lake. the mountain peaks in the background are one of the things that make being there so surreal. you feel like you're just at sea level, but then in the distance you see snow-capped mountains. unfortunately they don't show up well here. tell you what...take me out to dinner when i get back and i'll show you some other pictures.

another really fantastic thing about the altitude at titicaca is the clarity of the air. you feel like you're standing in one of those weird thomas kinkade pictures where light is doing way more than physics actually ever lets it. maybe if the "painter of light" painted lots of pictures on lake titicaca they'd actually seem realistic. maybe.

at the top of the island is a temple. if you stand in the right place you can get a picture of the door, some girl you don't know, and the moon, all at once. it's not as hard as it sounds, see?

this is the family i stayed with. and their house. and some more kinkade light. the little girl, maribel, was really cool. the night before there was a big town dance and she and i tore up the dance floor with some really good nine year old dance moves.

here's one more shot of me and the lake and mountains. and my water bottle and bag. i really like how dumb i look in this picture.

ok, so that's all for now. i'm currently in arequipa (fire up google earth if you want to see where that is), my last stop before chile. in the next couple days i'll head off to colca canyon for some more hiking and sight-seeing, and then i'll move south. i have to be in buenos aires in one month, so i think i may skip through chile relativly fast to spend more time in argentina, which i'm expecting to really really like. ok, until the next update!


Kansas City Star said...

Go to some pristine lake, and not even consider fishing...

Janae said...

Is that a man purse in the last picture? ;)

mhat said...

i remember when kavan wouldn't tell us the name of that lake back in the 8th grade or so. he made everyone swear that they wouldn't make a big deal of it or laugh, which totally built it up. when he announced lake titicaca, every guy in the room lost it. ah, to be young.

mhat said...

and janae, obviously it's a south american carry-all.

Emily said...

looks like fun. i'm very good at stating the obvious. i leave for Mexico on Saturday, so that should be fun as well. whatevs!

aaron said...

there's not much to say except i will be getting a margar and eating a chimichanga on tuesday night. i'll tell mercedes where you are and she can be impressed with it. all your base are belong to me.