Sitting in Spanish class in ninth grade, I would have never imagined I would one day find myself in one of the premier geographic Meccas of juvenile jokes. Yet here I am on Lake Titicaca, taken aback by its size and beauty, smiling down at the jokes of a distant past. At an altitude of 3.8 km (2.36 miles) above sea level, Lake Titicaca covers a vast 8372 square km (3100 sq. mi.), roughly the area of Delaware, with its longest diameter of 168 km (104 miles) from shore to shore.
I’m on a very slow moving, motor powered boat, transgressing the deep, dark blue water between a ‘floating’ and a ‘geological’ island. The people of the area have been living on floating islands for centuries. A floating island is composed of reef that naturally grows in the lake, and every 3 months a new layer of reef is laid down to replace the decomposing reef submerged in the water. As you walk around your feet literally sink half a foot into the ground.
I feel as if I’m in the middle of the ocean, so dark is the water. Yet there are no great whites or sandtiger sharks, no killer whales or bottlenose dolphins to speak of. The low levels of oxygen at this altitude prevent this ecosystem from supporting significant life. The lovely people on the floating islands rely on fish smaller than the size of the pen I’m writing with for food. It’s quite extraordinary, since isolated tradition like this does not exist in many parts of the world. I’m glad to have witnessed it.
As we keep moving, the sun slowly chars away at my skin. A sure call for a sunscreen break. This high up, the sun really torches you. Meanwhile, you would think I was Continue reading