November 25th, 2005


day 17

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..& went out for a walk.

... i walked around the block behind our hotel
which was a market in a fenced in area..
... and a Temple-class Incan building in there...
so, coming full circle, i went in to explore the ruin

it had two phallus in front of the door
a Large one (complete with slit in the head) in the rear centre
& the rest of the building was filled with rows of them!
i walked through
feeling the energy...
took some pictures:
it was time to meet the group at the bus

-- immediately, Sulema took us to the "the Fertility Temple" -- "The Phallus Palace"!
we walked back over & shee explained some things--
the ones with the heads up were meant to bless the people and the land
the heads down were meant to bless the earth (crops)
this was very old-school in these parts
and Post, even...
the Church next door had a phallus on it instead of a cross at the top of the building.
round these parts most of the buildings had phallus on top of them for blessings instead of the bulls up north...
this temple was aligned to the Solstice/Equinox as well
though many of the original stones are now in the Puno museum
there was still one left with Hand shapes in them
she suggested we place our palms there and feel the energy

she was at ease touching the big phallus in the center
and it created visible discomfort in some of the americans...

E later mentioned she was kinda tired and wanted to sit down...
they all looked like little chairs...
but that'd look bad to just sit down on one of them..

slap-happy morning: we headed back over and got in the bus.
Jim D wasn't feeling well, so stayed behind.
-we drove into Puno

-- Our Driver is a Maniac.
he almost ran people off the road many times.

we got into the city and off the bus
hired some Tricycletos -- Push-bikes with two seats in front of the driver
Jim & i rode together- still reticent to interract.

We got to the city's dock
& made our way over some moored boats onto our boat

... which leaned to the left heavily
(they put all the heavy things on the same side: driver, stairs, toilet...)
i went up to the roof...
Dietmar & Bob joined me..
eventually Elizabeth, Judy & Sulema came up too

we rode past the 5 star hotel on a litte island.. made to look kinda like a cruise ship
beautiful views, i'm sure..
... into the reeds

the water is very polluted here from the city
lots of duck-weed type algae

the channel through the reeds get dredged out ever year so the tourists can get to the floating islands...
yeah, it wasn't too long til we got to our destination

a river through the lake
keeping the water much cleaner
deeper here, about 50 ft.
a Floating Island made of reeds...

a six year old island, about six feet thick
Sulema explained how they made these:
the reed beds grow on the bottom in the shallow areas
and when they mature
they seperate from the ground and start floating
so the Uros people find the large pieces of reed bed and tie them together
(this island was made of seven pieces)
then they would cut off the green tops
and layer them over the floating beds
once a month in the dry season
every other week in the rainy...
adding layer upon layer upon layer
keeping the top dry
gradually the bottom became soggier and sank
-- the islands lasted about 20 - 25 years before they started rotting really badly and smelled bad
... some would get all the way to the lake bed floor
but most of them had to be anchored somehow
... and still, in really bad storms, they'd sometimes wake up having been blown across the lake..

when the islands did go rotten
they would chop them up
and use them for fertilizer for their farms on the mainland
and smaller gardens on the islands them selves.
they grow some potatoes, quinoa, sweet potatoes, moraya, etc... right here on the island.

all the men do the reed crafts:
making boats, houses, etc..
they cut the green tops and tie them up, letting them dry out a bit

the women make the clothes, food...

traditionally they eat fish, and the soft white bottoms of the reeds
which contains a lot of flouride and keeps their teeth very healthy.

we went for a tour of the island:
this island was specifically a Tourist Island

how they cook here:
rocks all around the ovens to protect the weeds:
there is certainly a fire danger living out here..
we got to sample some quinoa bread and cheese...

they demonstrated an "alligator boat"
one of the little reed boats that has rotted so that it kinda sinks when you ride it
so your feet are under water
but it still works well enough to use...

they showed us a house with a solar panel: the only way to have electrity out here..
and were proud of their TV inside their hut
-- no satellite dish (yet)

and another girl showed us how she poled a regular reed boat..

fathers teach the kids to swim starting from 1 year old
they learn how to use these boats very young.

we all crammed into one of the houses
where we donned Traditional clothing
all of us
dressed up in the local colors...
they took us to see a large reed Yacht
with two puma heads on front
a reed sail
and a deck!

all of us piled on top
but Jim, who didn't trust it being built well enough
(but sat underneath it: go figure)
-- he talked with two kids who came along
... who didn't understand english
but he told them stories of his past... and how wonderful California was...
taught the boy how to cut his nails...
being a good GrandFather: it's his element
... it was very sweet.

two men layed back in the up-curved fronts of the boat
paddling us around the lake
but on the return trip
the lifted the sail
and we floated back to the island

the women and children sang us songs...
in Aymara
in Spanish
... in German. in Korean. in English.

they sang "twinkle twinkle little star"... kinda got the lyrics right.

what do you do when you live on a reed island?
visited by different tourists
probably every day..
you learn some of their songs.

we sang them songs
"row row row your boat", in rounds
"old mcdonald had a farm" - very fragmented
then the musicans started playing (Walter on the drums)
and we started dancing!
a woman took my hand and we swung eachother around
others from the group joined in..

we danced!

we formed a circle
running around
dietmar in the middle
dancing with a woman
kickin' up them reeds
for two songs' worth...
we all collapsed
Deitmar especially, as he was kicking up harder than any of us
and we WERE up at 12,000+ft...

we all lay in the reeds
it was so soft and warm

then we took off our costumes and went shopping..

i bought my shirt
woolen, with cloured trim
but not the vest or hat.

i bought a wall hanging of Pancha Mama
and some postcards...

then we got back on our boat and headed back into Puno
-- strange to see the city
all over the hillside
but so different: not all metal and glass
mostly just bricks and dirt: didn't stand out against the nature the way i'm used to seeing cities do..

we had lunch in the city
then headed off to the internet cafe
all of us scrambling to spend our 45 minutes making our only communications in this 5 day block
-- i mostly ran around between shops trying to find someone who could burn discs
or sell me blanks
but no go
Pancho got his card burned, though
.. i helped some others from the group figure out some stuff
and only had a few minutes to... line up Lima..

walking down to meet the bus
i found a place that would sell me blanks, so i got a few to copy pancho's images for myself, maybe bob's...

we got in the bus
and headed to the Black Market to see if we could find some bootlegs of "El Dorado" and "Holocausto Cannibal"

it felt kinda exciting at first
but not something that we needed to repeat:

tight crammed aisles
people not used to seeing tourists
booth after booth after booth
i left the group pretty quick and ran around asking in my bad spanish if they had the DVDs...
eventually we found a copy of El Dorodo for Judy and Pancho
then we got out of there

it started raining just in time for us to get back to the bus.
turned to hail... beating down.

-- we drove to a pre-incan cemetary...
by the time we got there
it was sunny.
everyone but Jim
got out and hiked up to the top of the hill (13,000ft)

the area was spotted with large cylindrial tombs
most of the pre-incan
but the incan ones were the largest and best-built (polished rocks, seamless)
but the pre-incans survived better..
apparently the incan ones blew over a few years ago...
though most of them weren't finished
because the spanish stopped the work on them
... then destroyed a few.

the tombs had markings on them to denote the family
this one: a Lizard.

Sulema explained that they believed they all came from different animals
... this family "evolved" from Lizards
others: birds, cats, whatever.

i found this very interesting
because i had a strong experience in the desert once
finding a Javalina out in The Middle of NoWhere
i asked it was it was doing there..
it asked me what i was doing there:
pointing out i was the one out of place
and then showing me that "humans" were actually "star seeds" that came down and inhabited different animals species... some plants, some rocks
but when the "human" energy interracted with anything here on earth, it made humanoids
but we're not all from monkies, it was showing me..

anyway: this was the first time i'd heard that theory from someone else, kinda
and an ancient culture..


apparently the people here were buried deep underneath these large cylinders..
but the cylinders had a conical hollow space at the bottom of the structrue for offerings
i climbed in and looked around
feeling it
a little frightened of ... dying? going underground? getting possessed?

on the walk up here
i'd met a little dog
-- we had a grew rapport
... he really enjoyed biting me... as did his large friend in the parking lot..
we sat and played in a sun and moon temple area
just a 3/4 ring of rocks with a strange auditorium affect when we spoke..

the views were excellent up here
the japanese tourists took pictures of me
many of the peruvians commented on my beard today...
sulema showed us a big rock in the shape of a puma head
it had a spiraling etching in the side of it
that denoted a magic spot: a magnet
when you put a compass next to it
it spun the dial...

down at the base of the hill
i walked through the shops again
and bought another hat

it was the most fun
i bartered for it in song

we sang to eachother:
'baby alpaca?'
"baby alpaca!"
'cuantos soles?'
"diez soles"
'gracias! yo quiero esta...'

it's a nice hat...

back i the van
we drove to a family's house

we gave them bread and old t-shirts..
little offerings
the man was making a shag-rug: i'd never seen that done before
he'd rap a cord around the weft and cut it with a razor
-- had some nice designs...
challupas (the tombs) and shamans..
they gave us a bit of cheese and fried quinoa bread
Twilight was comming on...
we headed home
a long 45 minute drive

the driver, as maniac as ever
drove really fast, didn't turn on his headlights till it was nearly dark (which drove Jim nuts)
nearly getting us in a head-on collision
Metche said she smelled alcohol on his breath...

we did our best to be calm: still alive.

when we drove through Puno
there was still piles of Hail by the side of the road.

Back at the hotel
i sat down to write a bit before dinner...
but only got done with writing about the morning. (not even leaving the hotel)
glad to write about that and the day in seperate sessions, though.

so we ate dinner
good food
good band
handsome performers
a bit too loud, but great music.

i finished writing this all after dinner
drinking a bottle of wine left over from last night's feast
getting warm and sloshy in the chair
in my black poncho
while the rain started falling
resounding loudly off the tin roof in the big room...
i wanted to go out and do a ritual in the fertility temple
but wanted to write before i expended my energy like that...
now the rain is very heavy...
what will i do?

sit here & finish my bottle of wine and hope it lightens up...
gotta be up at 7:30 tomorrow
last day of the tour:
Heading to Bolivia...