The Siren’s Guitar: A Musical Paddling Adventure


by Stephen Snyder

  • Size: 5.5 x 8.5
  • No. Pages: 212
  • Published: 2012
  • ISBN: 978-1-935914-11-2


Two musician/kayakers paddle around Sun and Moon islands of Lake Titicaca in search of caves that, according to local folklore, are visited at night by water spirits (sirenas) who come to play instruments left by local musicians. Traveling with an Andean ten-stringed charango, the author writes of their explorations and attempts to uncover the truth behind the sirena belief, and of their encounters personal, musical and environmental in this immense blue lake 12,000 feet high in the Andean mountains.

"Fellow charango player"

Along the way the kayakers meet concerned Bolivians (are they going to drown in those tiny boats?), musicians, storytellers,activists, shamans and perhaps even a sirena herself. This is a travel story that shows a process of opening oneself up to beliefs and customs of other cultures, and the sometimes humorous and always humbling results of such endeavors. The story continues after the author returns home, when the siren’s song literally becomes a life saver. The book is illustrated with 46 photographs. A recording of charango songs is available from the author’s website


About the Author Stephen Snyder

Stephen Snyder is an accomplished musician who, with his wife, has recorded 6 award winning CDs as the musical group ZunZun. They primarily perform musical programs about water for young people. They have toured extensively throughout the Americas for the past 20 years. Stephen has also worked as a sea kayak guide, field biologist, environmental educator and Peace Corps volunteer. He holds a Master’s degree in Education from University of California, Santa Cruz, where he lives with his wife and two children. His main instrument is the Andean charango, which he plays by his Pacific Ocean home daily.
My lovely much-used charango
Guard llama of Challapampa
A sirenando ledge
Sunset on Isla del Sol
Tropical beach at 12,000 feet