Peru, Part 5: Dos Sara(h)s, Con Gas OR I’ve Got a New Altitude

Not to toot my own horn, but I not only published my 125th blog post last time, but I also hit over 17,000 all-time views! Thank you so much for reading, following, and passing along my blog. I appreciate you! In case the title and my intro didn’t give it away, I’m going to talk about, um, tooting, so if that’s not what you’re into, feel free to skip this post and please accept my apologies and this photo as a consolation. -Sarah

Snow-Cap-ped Mountains

Snow-Cap-ped Mountains

As you read in previous posts, I was in Peru for ten days and spent a lot of time up and down the Andes at various altitudes. In Peru, as in other Spanish-speaking countries (I’d imagine), when ordering water in a restaurant, they would ask “Con or sin gas?” meaning with or without carbonation. Carbonated or flat? Sparkling* or tap? Regular or fizzy? I learned to request “Dos aguas, sin gas” when Sara and I were out,*** after which they would bring us a bottle of regular water or a glass from the tap.

Another thing we learned was that bathrooms in Peru were different from the States. Every bathroom we used had signs posted asking us (in varying degrees of politeness and humor) not to flush toilet paper down the toilet and instead to throw it in the trash. I worried that the trash would start to smell after a use or two****, but the toilet paper in Peru must be scented because the “P” in TP never escalated to P-U.*****

This was one of the more straight-forward signs. Another one had an ill-looking toilet with paper in it.

This was one of the more straight-forward signs. Another one had an ill-looking toilet with paper in it.

Our first full day in Lima, one of the people in our group (who shall remain nameless) ran back to the bathroom after an outing, nearly not making it in time to avoid what I called a “PuPu Lemon” situation in her yoga pants. Thankfully, she made it in time, but she ran into the room so quickly that she forgot to shut the main door, which led to a near-awkward encounter when her roommate brought our tour guide up for some assistance with planning an outing. It all worked out fine in the end, though, and part of traveling in close quarters with someone is getting to know everything really quickly. There aren’t a lot of secrets in a shared hotel room.

Food may have contributed to digestive issues, but, man, I love lamp.

Food may have contributed to digestive issues, but, man, I love lamp.

Aside from that first issue, (as far as I know) no one in our group had other near-misses in the bano, but Sara and I did notice another digestive digression that afflicted the two of us: flatulence.****** I can only speak for myself, but I felt like a gas factory in a boom economy. I’ve never farted so much in my life. I only share this with you, because after we arrived back in the States, we discovered this is actually an affliction called High-altitude Flatus Expulsion (HAFE). I’m sorry if this is TMI, but I wish someone would have told me before my trip that this was a possibility. I might have been less concerned when I first noticed it (and perhaps would have eaten differently or consumed less carbonated beverages in order to minimize the problem). I like to pass******* along knowledge, so there you go. You’ve been warned!

Photo op in the high plateau of Puno.

Photo op in the high plateau of Puno.

Our last few days in Peru, we stayed in Puno (POO-noh)******** in the high plateau********* and back in Lima. We stopped at the highest point along our trip, just over 14,000 feet, which was a new high for me.

Highest altitude of the trip

Highest altitude of the trip

Photo op at the highest elevation.

Photo op at the highest elevation.

No, that's not a centaur. It's a woman standing next to a llama on the high plateau.

No, that’s not a centaur. It’s a woman standing next to a llama on the high plateau.

This isn't a bus stop. It's a bench placed along the walkway to one of the ruins we visited near Puno, the high plateau. Several of these lined the walkway, placed there for tourists who needed to rest after exertion in the altitude.

This isn’t a bus stop. It’s a bench placed along the walkway to one of the ruins we visited near Puno, the high plateau. Several of these lined the walkway, placed there for tourists who needed to rest after exertion in the altitude.

We toured Lake Titicaca***********(pronounced tee-tee-ka-KA, according to our guide), which is the highest navigable lake, altitude-wise. While there, we visited the Uros Islands, a floating archipelago made of reeds and sections cut from the lake bottom. The reeds were roughly the same size as bamboo and would squish when we walked on them, causing us to sink with every step. There were eight families and a total of 36 people living on the island we toured, and their homes, the boats they used, and the lookout towers on each island were all made of those reeds. Although their houses were small, they had modern conveniences (the president’s house had a sizable television in it) and most of them even had solar power.

These reeds are the lifeblood of the islands. They burn them to make fire, use them to build their homes (and, of course, the islands themselves), and even eat them. The president peeled the root like a banana before taking a bite.

These reeds are the lifeblood of the islands. They burn them to make fire, use them to build their homes (and, of course, the islands themselves), and even eat them. The president peeled the root like a banana before taking a bite.

Lake Titicaca. It doesn't mean what you think it does.

Lake Titicaca. It doesn’t mean what you think it does.

I just like this photo.

I just like this photo.

Slow wake; Lake Titicaca.

Slow wake; Lake Titicaca.

Even the boats are made from the reeds.

The boats are made from reeds.

Same with the watchtowers on each island. Each one was a different shape and was used primarily to check the weather, since the islands are low-lying

Same with the watchtowers on each island. Every one was a different shape and was used primarily to check the weather, since the islands are low-lying.

After a lecture on the history of the islands, which pre-date the Incas, and a chance to purchase their wares, the president and his wife rowed us in their double-decker reed boat to another island. Where else would the president of a place do that? I highly recommend traveling in Peru. It’s a lot more than Machu Picchu (although, Machu Picchu is pretty amazing).

It's hard to tell, but the reeds that make up the islands are two feet thick.

It’s hard to tell, but the reeds that make up the islands are two feet thick.

This is a map of Lake Titicaca. The president of the island we're on is to the left; our tour guide is on the right.

This is a map of Lake Titicaca. The president of the island we’re on is to the left; our tour guide (or at least his arm) is on the right.

Everything was so brightly colored. I wanted to buy that long, thin runner on the left.

Everything was so brightly colored. I wanted to buy that long, thin runner on the left.

This is the doorway to the president's house. I'm not sure if the little girl is related to him or not.

This is the doorway to the president’s house. I’m not sure if the little girl is related to him or not.

THis is the view from the swan-shaped watchtower.

This is the view from the swan-shaped watchtower, where you can better see the clouds forming across the lake.

The president and his wife were very generous. Here they are rowing.

The president and his wife were very generous. Here they are rowing.

This is the double-decker boat the president rowed.

This is the double-decker boat the president rowed.

Tune in next time for my last post about Peru. It’ll probably be pretty photo-heavy. Get. Excited.

 

Obligatory lamb photo.

Obligatory lamb photo.

*I wish “sparkling” and “gassy” meant the same thing. Although, that would make Twilight** read differently.

**I don’t condone reading Twilight. 

***And “Un Coca-Cola con hielo (with ice)” when we flew.

****And a use for Number Two, but we both agreed that the “If it’s brown, flush it down” mantra applied to toilet paper as well.

*****Probably because of the aforementioned mantra.

******We put the P-U in Peru! Seriously, though. If I were an 80s TV character on this trip, it would have been Tootie.

*******Last fart pun.

********This is not a joke; that’s really how it’s pronounced.

*********Putting the flat in flatulence! Okay, that was the last fart pun.

**********This is also not a joke, but plenty of people find it funny. The name actually translates to “Rock Puma,” much more badass (ha!) than what my freshman-year Spanish classmates joked it was. You can imagine.

 

 

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About Sarah in Small Doses

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2 responses to “Peru, Part 5: Dos Sara(h)s, Con Gas OR I’ve Got a New Altitude”

  1. Evan Kingston says :

    “Gas factory in a boom economy” works on so many levels!

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