Dear Boys and Girls,

At Lake Titticaca in southern Peru, there was an amazing adventure on islands the Amyara people built from totoro reeds. A long time ago, they wanted to get away from other warlike pre-Incan people, and later the warlike Incas, so they built they reed islands far from the shore of this very large Lake Titticaca. Because the reeds constantly rot, they have to keep rebuilding them by putting fresh reeds on top. They built houses out of reeds which they live in, and reed boats which they get around in. Today they have arranged these floating islands in a huge circle so touristas, like me, can come and visit, get a demonstration on how the islands are built, have some fried corn meal patties and buy the traditional weaving they make and items touristas like to take home, like a small reed boat to show you what they look like.

The women wear bright handmade jackets. And guess what! They sold me a bright green one!

Because they have lived on these islands for hundreds of years, they have learned some things about getting along. These islands float quite far from the bottom of the lake, so they are held in place by stones tied on the end of long ropes. If they want to move the island, they pull up the anchors, just like a boat, and it floats to a new place or is pushed along by people in one of the reed boats. If the people on the island are not getting along, they simply, and here in the demonstration they pulled out a saw, simply saw the island in half, and move each half to a different place among the other islands!

Next I flew to Lima, and the next day to Guayaquil. After being up so high, it was nice to be able to breathe at sea level again, except it was hot and muggy! I kept the ceiling fan blowing all night and stayed cool.

The next day I took a bus to Cuenca, an old colonial town high in the Andes, 9000 feet. Once again I get short of breath easily. But the weather is cooler. Colonial refers to the architectural style of the buildings, built by the conquering Spanish in the 1500´s. The cobblestone streets are narrow and busy with cars, mini-vans and huge buses rumbling past. There are many many Helado (ice cream) shops, postres shops (pastries) and Pan shops (bread). Peru only had the pan (bread shops). I have become fond of yogur (yogurt) with fresh fruit blended in. Yum! I am sure you would like this treat too. Very healthy and you get to choose your choice of fruit which they mix up fresh for each order — bananas, naranjillas (small oranges), morano (I think I spelled this correctly, it tastes like raspberries).

Heading up to a town called Baños, famous for its warm sulfur springs and spas, tomorrow.

So long, Galapagos Grandma/Diane