Hi all! I’m currently writing from the hostel in Puno. We’ve come back here after 3 days on the Karina project to do laundry and run errands. This past week, we arrived in Puno on Monday. Then on Tuesday, we did some tourist stuff, visiting the Uros Islands and Taquile, which is a peninsula. The Uros people essentially have their own country in Lake Titicaca, between Peru and Bolivia. They have built about 90 islands from dirt and various grasses. They’re fishermen and crafts people; fishing for rainbow trout and making incredible weavings by hand (available for sale to tourists, obviously). They took us out on one of their boats for the low low price of 10 sols, and then invited us into their homes, where they live the same way that they have for thousands of years (the Uros are pre-Inca). Although they do have electricity via solar panels now. I went to the home of a woman named Amelia, who lives in a one room house with her husband and 3 children. I think my family would most likely kill each other if we lived like that. Then it was on to Taquile, where we hiked up to lunch, and then had some traditional dances performed for us by villagers.
On Wednesday, we took the bus about an hour and a half to the Karina project, where we met our hosts and started work. The girls harvested potatoes, which involves breaking up the dirt with a pick axe, which was quite fun. The boys cut wheat. Then, in the evening, we helped put the livestock into their pens and milked a cow (which is a lot harder than it looks). It was interesting to see how they farmed, though we probably did it a lot slower than they usually do. Next week, we will also be teaching at the local school.
I’m still adjusting to the altitude here; I feel like an old man when I go up the stairs. However, I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the Karina project brings, as we’ve only really worked 2 full days.