Suriqui Island is a small island in Lake Titicaca on the Bolivian side near Huatajata. A small village that is home to under 1,600 residents is known for the Reed styled boat makers that use Totora reeds growing on the lake which can date back to pre-Colombian times.
One of the descendants of these boatmakers is Demetrio Limachi who won a boat building contest for Thor Heyerdahl, a Norwegian adventurist to build RA II for Heyerdahl to navigate from Morocco to Barbados in the reed boat in 57 days.
The island is charming and off of the beaten track from where most international visitors go. I remember it well, and it was a favorite place for my mother to visit. Easily accessible from Huatajata within a 20 minute boat ride and easy to walk around, it’s much more enjoyable than the tourist filled Isla del Sol.
The boat ride is pleasant with wonderful views of Lake Titicaca with the snow capped glaciers of the Cordillera Real overlooking. Passing many a fisherman that now uses power boats, the lake is vast and peaceful.
Upon our arrival we were greeted by three critically endangered Titicaca Grebe which made the adventure worth it alone. But it got even better than I ever imagined. Once we hit land, I saw that it would be a perfect place to fly my drone. Starting to pull it out of my bag, I immediately drew attention to several men that were standing around. Of course, having a big camera in my hands was cause for interest itself.
As soon as I started getting the drone up in the air, all of a sudden children came out of nowhere and surrounded me in amazement. I’m not sure if they had seen a drone before, but you would have thought I was the Wizard of Oz pulling some incredible magic trick. With oohs and aahs around before I knew it I was on my knees surrounded tightly by children. Oops..that blocked the drone signal, so in quick haste, we opened up the circle and the drone found itself again. Phew!
It wasn’t a long flight but enough to get a lovely view of the lake, the Cordillera in the background and an aerial view of the main village in Suriqui. Upon landing, all the children circled the drone in amazement, completely fascinated with its magic. It was a wonderful celebration of community and mystery. To make it even better, my dear friend Denise Ippolito generously went to a Cholita who was in front of the school selling jello and she bought each child a jello treat to make their day. So much so that the Cholita ran out of jello to serve.
Wow, a show and dessert ! Certainly the happiness of the children was such a gift to us, and I know they had a thrill as well. Out of all of our adventures in Bolivia, I’m sure I’m safe to say that both Denise and I would say this was the best experiences of all.
Enjoy this flight of Suriqui Island and its children with me and rediscover your childhood sense of wonder.
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