And Let There Be Light…

For centuries, and, probably, since the beginning of the mankind, Sun has been cherished and celebrated as the symbol of abundance, generosity, prosperity, warmth and life itself. Across the world and it’s different continents and civilizations, still evident and visible today through Art, architecture, folklore, customs and traditions. Who knows for sure how many solar-inspired civilizations and cultures were out there to date?

Spaniards traveled to the Americas to discover “a new world”, as they thought. In reality, it was the largest multicultural and multilingual civilization of it’s time, with different beliefs, values and traditions though. The land of abundance and “unimaginable riches”, where gold and silver were everyday commodities and even entire temples were covered with these precious metals.

Looking back through centuries of history and wisdom, it seemed as if they have traveled to “a new land” to extract it’s resources and enrich themselves. And we kind of know how it turned out for the “new world’, even for the Spaniards themselves, or any “conquistador empire” for that matter.

Unlike the Spaniards, I traveled from Riviera Maya in Mexico all the way to Cusco in Peru to celebrate Inti Raymi, one of the most remarkable and colorful Sun festivals in the world. I was there to discover the Inca civilization, explore the capital of it all Cusco, experience dreams-come-true Machu Picchu, sky walk among the highest peaks of it’s mountains, hike and marvel at the beauty of the Sacred Valley, listen to the birds singing in Pomac Sanctuary and discover a meaningful part of myself in Tucume, of all places, with it’s Amaru legend and even it’s own Pantheon of Gods.

I might not have discovered those “unimaginable riches” that the Spaniards were after, and hardly any souvenirs for the matter, and this is not why I was there anyway. I did get the souvenir that meant to me the most and I was attracted to it almost immediately, from the very moment I walked into an artisan store along Avenida del Sol in Cusco. It was in the shape of the heart decorated with colorful flowers and embellishments, and a special compartment for a message that I left blank for a while not knowing what to write in it.

Oh, Sun, what are you?

The warmth, the breath, and Love,

and Life itself….

Let the celebrations begin…  Temple of the Sun, the day before Inti Raymi, Cusco

Just as the Mediterranean Sea is considered to be the cradle of Europe, North Africa and Middle East, so is Lake Titicaca in Peru considered by the Incas, the origin of mankind and the origin of the whole Sun civilization. Located between Bolivia and Peru, this is one of the deepest and largest high-altitude lakes in the world, and one of the most important and sacred places for the whole Sun civilization. According to the legend, this is where a new world was created by the God Viracocha. And then the Sun, the Moon, Gods, and People, and a whole new Universe.

It is from here that its first people, or the “Inca Adam and Eve”, traveled to Cusco, and it was a capital of the Sun Civilization ever since. Its importance is also reflected in the name of the city, Qosqo, meaning center or a bellybutton in Quechua. And no wonder why Inti Raymi festival and celebrations begin in Qorikancha, Intiwasa, or Temple of the Sun, the most important temple dedicated to the Sun God and one of the most sacred places for the whole Inca civilization.

There are numerous islands on Lake Titicaca: Uros islands, or a network of floating islands made entirely of totora reeds, and Taquile Island, one of the natural islands, also particular for its interesting culture, customs and traditions. Island of the Sun is the largest natural island on the lake and is considered to be the birthplace of the Sun God Inti, hence, its remarkable importance. While the Island of the Moon, a rather smaller natural island, is the home of the Inca Goddess Mama Quila, which is, surprisingly, correct, at least if thinking astronomically.

Besides its undeniably beautiful nature and the legend itself, Lake Titicaca happens to be one of the most fascinating places in the world. I think what surprises the most how archaeologically and culturally unexamined the whole area is. Even a renowned  French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau was unable to find what has been discovered here quite recently. A very large Temple of the Sun at the lake itself and the Gate of the Gods on one of the islands. This could be considered rather unusual. Why hasn’t it all been discovered sooner? Especially considering their importance and size, and at the same time it references an existence of the ancient Pre-European and Pre-Inca cultures and civilizations, such as Pukara and Tiwanaku, at this location. Also, many centuries prior.

Who knows how many more amazing mysteries and discoveries are here, and our guide did mention, that sometimes locals see light from the lake beaming in the direction of the sky.

At the end of the day, when our boat left Taquile Island, and very soon it was far from the shore and all the islands, I went to the top deck and this is where I stayed for a while, mesmerized by the whole experience. Now the lake seemed more like a vast sea. “And Let There Be Light.…” I thought, as I watched the Sun reflect and shimmer on the lake’s surface. I am not sure if God Viracocha uttered these words during the creation of the Sun civilization, and what kind of words would be appropriate to say during the creation of the new universe, if any.

All in all, it does seem to be one of the most amazing and fascinating places in the world.

And Let There Be Light...

Uros Islands, inhibited by the Uros people, is a developed network of artificial islands on Lake Titicaca

These islands are made entirely of totora reeds, which are also used for huts, boats, furniture, food and even medicine

And did I mention nature? With it’s amazing high definition colors

The Uros people greet travelers with the island’s creation demo story

And it is quite crafty and also handmade 

How do the Uros people support themselves? Tourism and artsy souvenirs like these

which are very detail-oriented and eco-friendly  

Progress? Even here… solar panels and totora reeds

And the Best Neighbor Award goes to…. Privacy as far as eyes can see )

This is a local means of transportation and a traveler’s delight boating around the islands and the lake itself

And these are Totora plantations, which make these islands and everything else possible 

Taquile Island is one of the natural islands on Titicaca Lake, and it seems to be popular among travelers 

The boat embarks on one side of the island, and from here travelers hike to the other side, while learning about Taquile’s interesting culture and traditions

There are no stores, cafes or restaurants on the island, just a few stands and locals all’agroturismo, so BYO, especially if vegan/vegetarian or on a particular diet. And yes, ask about those ingredients during travels in Peru, not everyone is familiar with what vegetarian is, at least from my personal experience 

Residents of the island, or Taquileños, speak Quechua, and are known for their elaborate woven textiles with symbolic patterns and strong colors that reflect Andean customs and beliefs. Interestingly enough, knitting is exclusively performed by males, while women exclusively make yarn and weave. These textiles are regarded among the highest-quality items in Peru and are honored as Masterpieces of Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO

For some reason I don’t have any pictures of them, since I was so into these nature views and high definition colors of the lake and the sky itself

It’s not every day that travelers get to see and hike among these picturesque nature views

Another particular feature of the island are arches, which distinguish it’s different regions 

and each arch has its own particular unique adornment

Interconnected world stand even at the Main Plaza of Taquile Island

Coca tea is recommended to acclimate to the high altitude of the area. Surprisingly, I felt at home, and might be the only one who haven’t tried it at all, at least to my knowledge 🙂

Although I opted out of lunch, for obvious reasons, views here are amazing, so BYO 

And I got an extra hour

And Let There Be Light...

to enjoy these nature views 

Lake Titicaca is very popular among travelers, with many day tours departing from Puno

And here is our boat waiting till we finish hiking and exploring the island

And Let There Be Light...

Thanks for this amazing experience, lake Titicaca!

 

Enjoy your travels,

Nadia.

 

For traveler related information and planning visit official Travel Peru web site about floating Uros islands and Taquile Island.

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