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Final Notes on Peru

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1. Electrical power is 220 volts; however, in some hotels separate 110 and 220 volt outlets are available.
2. Recycling of waste products is rarely seen in Peru with the exception of at their national parks.
3. Toilet paper is not thrown in the toilet; use wastebasket instead because the sewer system would get clogged…even in the best hotels and restaurants.
4. Indians in Peru live in communities where they own their land. The Indians outside of Cuzco area sold some of their land to the government for the new airport to be built and will provide them with employment.
5. Food, the not so usual for us, served at restaurants : ceviche made with a white fish or trout, baby alpaca raw or in stir fry, pisco sour drink, fresh papaya.
6. Tourists only drink bottled water. Glaciers are Peruvian's current source of water, and when gone desalination of water will be only option.
7. Indians do not trust the banks so they will build their house with available money and supplies. That is why we see concrete columns and rebar sticking up from the roof for future construction.
8. Wars happened in the past between Chile, Ecuador, Brazil, etc but every Dec 9 all the South American Presidents meet to wish continued cooperation and travel between their countries. Lots of tumultuous times in Peru's history.
9. Average age for life in rural is 70, city is 74. Pork is served at weddings. Guinea pig is served at celebrations with family.
10. Everyone votes at age 18 and if not then pay a fine. If non-voting person wants to travel someplace, it had been noted he/she did not vote so they must pay their fine and then they can get their ticket to travel.
11. One president ordered doctors to perform tubal ligations. When women realized they were not getting pregnant the president was ousted. Corruption is big problem and many presidents have been imprisoned.
12. People need to make at least 800 soles per month. Our Tuk-tuk drivers make 60 soles per day, work 6 days a week. Police make more money than teachers.
13. So much more to Peru…pre-Inca, Inca, colonial and Spanish times…wow! But it seems now Peru moving forward with mining, fishing and tourism!
14. Be sure to visit Peru. I traveled with Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) and would recommend them. Want more info, just email me at hihikermary@gmail.com

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What to Pack for Peru in August/September …

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1. In Iquitos & Amazon area, be sure to have: Passport, malaria medication, possibly yellow fever vaccination, bug spray, sunscreen, wear long sleeve shirt and long pants, sneakers for possible wet & muddy areas, hat, sunglasses, binoculars – if birding, camera, raincoat, windbreaker.
2. In Cuzco, Sacred Valley & Machu Picchu area, be sure to have: Passport, bug spray, sunscreen, hiking shoes, walking sticks with rubber tips for Machu Picchu, raincoat, windbreaker, hat, sunglasses, altitude medicine possibly needed for Cuzco at 11,000 feet, camera, clothing as listed above plus additional layer for warmth, sandals with straps if rafting.
3. In Lake Titicaca at 12,500 feet, be sure to have: Passport, sunscreen, altitude medication, camera, raincoat, hat, sunglasses, camera, clothing as listed above plus additional layers for warmth where it will even be colder in early morning and late night.
4. Always carry: toilet paper, small coins…1 soles or 5 soles coin…for toilet use fee, to take photo of a person who requests payment, hard candies for dry areas in country or on airplane flights, water, snack.
5. Other items: extra camera batteries, etc, reading glasses, map of Peru, copy of passport and credit cards, etc in another location from actual items, personal needs, wipes or anti-bacterial solution, antibiotics, flashlight.
6. Be ready to be flexible, polite, good-humored, giving…we are ambassadors experiencing a culture different than our own and the time spent in Peru can be wonderful!

Floating Reed Islands on Lake Titicaca!

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Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world and my use of Diamox has helped me enjoy the few days we have been here. Today was my opportunity to see floating islands made totally of reeds! I could not believe I stepped onto the island of reeds: reed houses, lookout towers, boats, moisturizer, toilet paper, some souvenirs, and learned of the multiple uses of reeds-hats, clothing, mattresses, furniture, fertilizer, and food portion at root, they peel it like a banana. It takes 3 months to build a reed boat and they are making larger ones to transport tourists…I was one of them! If you need a toilet, you row about 5 minutes away into the reeds in a special place for such use. You are always to take someone with you.
The Uros culture in living on these reed islands can only involve hard working people as they need to continually build their island, and homes, and boats as the reeds decay. Walls and a roof last a year so that requires much upkeep. An island itself can last 35 years, but it requires a layer of new reeds on it every 15 days, and then also a layer under the house as it is always a step up from the island. There is so much work, but the people were wonderful explaining it all with the help of our guide.
For the creation of an island, they look for thick roots below reed growth and tie chunks together leaving a bit of space to let roots connect between chunks. They also anchor the reed island do it does not float to another location. It was absolutely fascinating! So what happens when people are not doing their fair share of work? At the third warning, the others take a saw and cut them away from the island they had been part of!
The Uros, are Aymara, and do have a medical clinic, a school, and midwife when a woman has a baby. Every family has a solar panel and as a result we saw light bulbs, radios and televisions…even if 6×6 inch screen.
The most distressing part for me was discovering the fact that the people are drinking the brackish water. The salt intake has effects on their bodies. They had a desalination project and had used it, but when it broke down a number of years ago no one could fix it. Wow, there could be a project!
Our entrance fee to visit these islands has been used for theses people to buy land outside of Puno for cemetery and also to build housing for their university students to stay nearby the school. When students attend university, more and more of them wear western clothes the and too on the island. Once again, the traditional ways may be lost in a generation.
We traveled an hour and half by speedboat to an actual Island Taquile. The island is made up of 6 districts and every family on the island has land in each district. This enables all to gave variety and to rotate use of their land. The people here are Quechua and both sexes knit. As a matter of fact, a young man must knit a hat with such a tight weave capable of holding water in it to impress his girlfriend's parents. We had a delicious lunch here and then hiked higher on the island to then walk a length of the island to meet our boat in a different location. One male tourist (not in our group) was having difficulty with his heart so he was transported by wheelbarrow for awhile.
When boarding or departing our boat, it was quite common to climb through a couple of other boats to get to the dock. Great day today and no rain until we headed back to our hotel.
Dinner toast was to our wonderful guide and good group. Tomorrow to Lima, a tour of another section of the city, lunch, a room till we leave for the airport to catch flights at midnight.
Wonderful trip! Would recommend it to anyone who is interested!
I will send photos when I have better wifi to download them.