When the moon starts descending to the horizon, we wake up in crowing and barking, following the path through the blooming field, and sailed the boat into Lake Titicaca, hoping for a harvest of fish.
Unlike yesterday, we got plenty of fish today with a board collection of different species including small Carachi and Ispi. A Confusion of what Ispi is spread among our team. According to our host, Ispi is a generic term used to call all the little fishes including small Trouts and Pejerreies, but our tour guide doubts that Ispi is a separate species. Further research is necessary for us to determine the Identity of “Ispi.”
After having a warm and brief lunch, we headed up for more fish markets located at towns around Lake Titicaca. Before we leave, the president of tourism in Santiago de Okola kindly give us a bag of table salt in his house. Later in the morning, we arrived at the fish fair at Achacachi. With the help of our guides, we readily find various species, including Carachi, Trout, Marui and Pejerrey, all caught at Ajllata, a town by the shore of Lake Titicaca. Even though we have a successful start of fish hunting, we were not able to find another fish fair that is as large as the one in Achacachi at other towns we visited later. We did obtain three Carachi, caught in Huatajata, from the a vendor in the market in Betallas. We also obtained two salt samples in markets this morning. Our original plan once includes visiting Bahia de Cohana, a heavily impacted site suggested by Dr. Dario Acha, but a local Bolivian lady told us that the majority of residents in Bahia de Cohana engages in dairy production rather than fishery. Knowing that the chance of getting fish at Bahia Cohana is tiny, we decided not to risk our time and ended up in a beautiful shoreside tourism town. We enjoyed our lunch, trout and omelet, at a nice and well-decorated restaurant, where we got the chance to see some models of reed boat, although it is disappointing that we did not see an actual one in operation in the lake.
Stuffed and sleepy, we returned to La Paz at around 4:00 PM and after a brief rest, we soon started on cutting sample blocks. With previous experience, we were able to operate more efficiently and neatly. Regarding to salt samples, we had a hard time trying to break the salt block we bought Tuesday at the market in La Paz because but we conquered it with our sculpture skills. Until today, we have 35 fish samples in total, caught at eight different locations. Our next step is to locate those towns and areas, find our their proximity to mines, and categorize our samples into affected and unaffected. We also have six salt samples, which we are going to use in LeadTrak testing.
–Written by Qianye ‘Renee’ Mei