chiapas photo tour

San Cristóbal de las Casas

We just returned from one of our favorite places in Mexico, San Cristóbal de las Casas in the beautiful mountains of Chiapas. This will be More »

riviera maya wedding photographer

Best Wedding Photographers Riviera Maya

  Here is the thousand(s) dollar question that brides who demand quality are asking: “Who is the best wedding photographer in the Riviera Maya?” The More »

Fes, Morocco

We wanted to go to Morocco for three reasons: architecture, art and food. We didn’t expect more and we weren’t disappointed. But, first, you gotta More »

Beautiful and Edible Spain

We were looking forward to our time in Spain for two reasons: the food and the architecture. Let’s face it, those two things are the More »

Italy in the Summer

All of my previous trips to Italy have been in the off-season, usually April or October. I love that time of year since there are More »

Category Archives: Peru

Uros Islands Lake Titicaca

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the last in a series of stories from our work and travel in South America December 2009 through February 2010. Every effort has been made to provide updated information.

 

After an amazing month of visiting Cuzco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, it was time for us to head south toward Bolivia. Luckily, our route would take us by scenic Lake Titicaca.

Lake Titcaca sits on the Peru/Bolivia border and is the world’s highest navigable lake for commercial traffic. At, 12,500′ the climate is cold and dry, and living conditions are challenging. Indigenous people inhabit several islands worth visiting in the lake. One of the more interesting sites is the floating islands of Uros.

 

They are called the floating islands, because they are actually floating islands, built from reeds cut from the shallow areas of the lake. The reeds are piled high enough that they float, with the downside being that they become waterlogged and need to have more reeds piled on. Walking on the island feels like walking on a large water bed.

HoPe Foundation in Cusco Peru

From a humble soup kitchen started by a couple from the Netherlands in 1991 in Cusco, Peru, the HoPe Foundation (Stichting HoPe in Dutch) has grown into one of the most sustainable, efficient NGOs (non-governmental agency) I have ever seen.

A few years ago, while Jennifer and I were working on photo projects in Peru, we learned of a foundation that built schools and helped start community projects among the Quechua people of the Peruvian Andes. Descendants of the Inca, they live above 12,000 feet (3,000 meters) where only they, llamas and potatoes thrive. Walter and his original partner saw the need for schools for the mountain-dwelling Quechua, who often migrated to Cusco looking for work. With no skills and no education, they eventually lived in slums, begging for a living or posing for pictures for tourists (nearly the same thing).

From the start in 1997, the foundation insisted that each village take part in their school’s construction, doing most of the labor. The foundation would pay for the materials, then the teacher’s salaries for one year and then the village was responsible for their salaries. The demand for the solid, efficient buildings was overwhelming. Today, they have built more than 150 schools. The curriculum includes history, math, science and current events. More importantly, the classes are taught in the native language and in Spanish. A little English is thrown in to broaden the student’s learning experience.