#ThePeruCrew adventures continue! Following a couple of service days in Cusco, we headed to Puno to explore Lake Titicaca and the floating islands! Our travel day to Puno was trip member Alyssa’s birthday, so we celebrated by decorating the bus with balloons and streamers, and ate delicious birthday cake when we arrived in Puno! Our Peruvian tour guide even played the guitar, while trip member, Cole, played the drums, as our whole trip sang Happy Birthday in Spanish and English.
The following morning we had a kayak adventure on Lake Titicaca! Fun fact about Lake Titicaca: at approximately 12,500 ft. above sea level, this lake is considered the highest navigable lake in the world. After a boat ride on the lake, trip members had a blast kayaking and taking in the beautiful scenery. In the afternoon, we visited the floating islands. A floating island is an accumulation of floating aquatic plants that can be a few inches to several feet thick. While they are a naturally occurring phenomenon in many parts of the world, on Lake Titicaca, they are man-made masses formed by the Uros people. Our guide informed us that these islands take about a year to build, but can last for up to thirty or forty years. When we visited one of the islands, trip members were given a lesson by the president of the island about how the man-made islands are built from the reeds that grow in the lake. The island we visited was the home of three families, and trip members enjoyed exploring their space and were fascinated to learn about the Uros lifestyle and culture.
After an action packed visit to Lake Titicaca, we continued our journey on to Arequipa the following day. On the bus, trip members had fun playing a variety of bus games including pass-it-up and song-o-rama. Pass-it-up is a game where each side of the bus competes for points to see which team has particular objects in their backpacks, such as sunglasses, chapstick or a ticket stub. The goal of the game is to find the object and pass it up to the front of the bus before the other team. Song-o-rama, which was a big hit with our trip members, involves a staff member calling out a word such as “love,” “rock,” “summer,”etc. and trip members go back and forth across the bus singing out lyrics of songs that include that word to see who can come up with the greatest number of songs.
We spent our first morning in Arequipa volunteering at San José Benito Cottolengo, which is a home for mentally impaired and physically disabled boys and girls who have been abandoned by their parents. Upon our arrival, we were given a brief tour and orientation about the orphanage, so we could familiarize ourselves with the situation of the community we were serving. Trip members helped out around the orphanage in many ways from folding laundry, to cleaning windows, to helping feed some of the children. And on our second day at the orphanage, trip members even weeded and planted a large area of grass behind the orphanage, so that the children who live there have more grass to play in outside. To conclude our service, trip members participated in a meaningful discussion about the value of their service work and the impact they had on the community.
In the afternoon, we visited the Yanahuara view point, where we were able to view the three volcanos surrounding Arequipa. There were beautiful white arches at the view point, which made for a wonderful pictures, with snowcapped mountains and volcanoes in the background.
We have just arrived in Nazca and are looking forward to viewing the Nazca lines and all of our upcoming adventures in Huacachina!
Saludos y ¡Hasta Pronto!
-The Peru Crew
Are you interested? Check out our 28-day trip for community service in Peru and get involved by its history, culture and people.