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20 July 2003

The News from Peru
"We Almost Died"

Well, we made it to Lake Titicaca. We were at the bus
station waiting for our hostel person to get us ,when
a guy overheard us say we were going to a specific
hostel. He grabbed a business card of that hostel and
ushered us into a cab. He took us to the hostel, but
on the way he sold us a tour that our hostel person
had planned on selling us. Well it was pretty funny
because they know each other and I guess he steals her
tour customers whenever he can.
The next day we got ready for the tour--a visit
overnight on an island with a native family. Lake
Titicaca is the largest lake in South America. It is
very beautiful and huge and cold. It is also at
12,000 feet.
Our first task was to buy some gifts for our family
and then onto the boat.
Our first stop was the floating islands made out of
reeds. They just lay down layer after layer of reeds
and build villages on top. If you stand in one place
too long, you start to sink. They build huts etc. on
these islands and row between them on reed boats. We
rode on one. There is even a school, but it is built
next to one of the islands on floats. The reeds are
used to build the islands-- as toothpaste-- and you
can eat them.
Then we left for the most terrifying time of my life.
The lake is 100 miles long and resembles the great
lakes in that it is a true sea not a sweet little
lake. Our guide and captain were chewing cocoa leaves
steadily which everyone does here and I was a little
concerned ,but it got much more exciting than a high
captain. There were about 10 life jackets for 25 or
30 people and the water was so cold and they were the
neck kind and of no use at all. There was no
discernable safety equipment on board but the day
seemed fine.
It all changed in an instant--a monster wind storm
started. It was the perfect storm all over and no
land in sight. Every wave seemed a rougue wave.
Parts of the boat were falling off, connections were
coming loose and windows were craking and spitting
glass shards all over. We held the life jackets
against the windows to keep them from crashing in and
cutting off our heads. All this was happening as we
were rising and falling tens of feet and the water was
coming in over the bow. Bags and backpacks and
bedrolls were rolling all over. Over half of the
people were throwing up and couldn,t move to the deck
as it was full of sick people so those of us that
weren,t sick emptied plastic bags ,etc for the pukers.
Barfers were everywhere but none got on me because I
wasn,t sick and I rescued my stuff in all the chaos.
Brad felt it was pretty silly to be lost at sea in the
mountains of Peru. He wanted a more dignified end. I
just hated that I was going to die cold. I hate being
Some girls started to cry and all were holding on to
each other. I knew the trouble we were in but
maintained and joked, etc. It was really sad as some
thought they were going to die. I was not sure.
We made it to the island and met our families. We had
the sweetest family ever. They were in a series of
huts. The kitchen hut barely had room for us to sit
and they cooked our meals on an open fire on the dirt
The storm continued all night and our hut swayed and
swayed. We were in a tiny second story addition and
expected to get blown off the cliff. Did I mention,
we were on a cliff? We have been on a cliff somewhere
since we got here. Some family lost their hut that
night. The winds must have been over a hundred miles
an hour. They were stronger than winds clocked at 100
miles an hour in Pinetop.
Before we went to bed, our captain called us
together and said we had to leave very early as the
winds would be calm in the morning and kick up in the
afternoon. We all wanted to go except two French
people who wanted to be dropped at another island. No
one cared what they wanted and we all agreed to leave
and head straight back as early as possible.
The Indian families got us up early and walked us down
to the dock as they were worried also. We were all
there except our guide. Everyone kept arguing to
leave him ,but the captain was hesitant. Finally the
guide came running down the trail. One Indian woman
told us he was drinking tequilla all night and boy did
he get it from all of us. Even I was yelling in
Spanish. Then we all got in a big fight about
dropping the two at the other island. They were
French and most of the others on the boat were
French--So the other French people were yelling at
them in French and some of us were yelling in Spanish.
The arguing was in 4 languages. The French couple
lost big time. We had a vote led by one of the French
men who had puked all the way over. All I could add
in Spanish was quit talking and lets go-- but I did it
We got under way and promptly began to sink about 200
yards off-shore. The bilge pump stopped and the
breeze was starting. I passed out the 5 life jackets
(5 had disappeared overnight-probably sold to other
scared captains). We were going to jump for it before
we drifted further but the pump started and we limped
back to our town (4 hours).
We have a mountain bus trip tomorrow. Peru is one
exciting place. One American told us the country is
almost under martial law as everyone hates the
president and there has been a lot of scattered
troubles. The people are great though except for our
drunk, high, late guide.
P.S. Its been fun but I really would only recommend
Peru on your own to those that feel their life is
quite complete.

posted by - 11:08 PM


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