Puno and Lake Titicaca
Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
84Trip End Jul 06, 2011
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This wasn't helped with being sat at the front of the bus, no leg room and being cramped for 6 hours, and after 4 hours, someone extremely pungent sitting next to me!! On top of this, bus driver quite happy to overtake while entertaining a bend around a mountain, apparently beeping your horn will prevent a truck coming from the other direction?
On the way near Puno, I notice many deep water puddles, so I'm thinking whether Mosquito's can survive this high up and then I notice some snow! Oh man, I hope it's warm enough! As we enter the city, children are throwing small snowballs at the bus and the driver weaves his way through an intricate array of streets and plazas. Grab a small tuk tuk type of vehicle to my hostal and the hostal is damp, wet and cold. But it will do.
So you find me in Puno, 3800m above sea level and gateway for Lake Titicaca's islands. I organise a tour, explore a little of the town, to find a massive street festival going on. Every shop has the festival being streamed live. I have a small look and there are many bands, like college football bands blowing away and the place is a little crazy. When looking for my dinner, I got turned away from two 'pollo' cafes, but thankfully the next one was happy to cater for a gringo. BBQ half a chicken with a Fanta.
As I had a 6am start next day, I went to bed early, fully clothed and had an awful night sleep. Probably down to the altitude but it also lashed with rain all night, and just outside my room was some iron roofing, so a loud night of rain.
Miles walked 0.46
Temp 15 C 60 F
Day 21 January 24th - Another early start and it was still raining. Annoyingly this morning, the two bathrooms in the hostel were both in occupation, for 30 mins. So feeling unwell still, I had the nightmare dilemma of just heading out for my tour and hoping for the best. Today, I was undertaking a full day tour of the Uros Islands and Isla Taquile.
Tour was in English and Spanish again, the boat was packed. After ten minutes cruising away from Puno, we were allowed on top of the boat. This is where I met Bjorn, 33. A very charming guy from Sweden. He spent 6 years working for the UN in Sudan and Darfur, on a humanitarian basis. This is where he met his Colombian girlfriend and has just recently been to Colombia to meet in inlaws. When he was told there would be a small family gathering, 65 people were in attendance, poor guy. I guess people from Europe have a different perspective on what a small family gathering actually means. His girlfriend is still in Darfur, so he has a couple of months in Peru, Cuba and maybe Ecuador.
At this point, we arrived at the Uros Islands. These are floating islands on Lake Titicaca, sadly, they have latched onto the tourist industry and have become very commercialized. Still, they are very unique. We boarded one island (there are over 50) to furious waving from the inhabitants. All women, dressed in bright yellows, greens, oranges, and obviously, very pleased to see a packed boat.
We were allowed into one of the huts, the bed was pretty firm, but there was a damp smell. Also, on a shelf was an old radio and TV, they now get their electricity from solar panels, discretely hidden away on top of the huts.
We were then invited over to guess the depth of the lake, at 17m, no-one guess correctly. The inhabitants then sung 3 songs, including Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in English. I then boarded a taxi boat to hop across to another island. After ten minutes we were escorted back onto the main boat for a 2.5 hour steam over to Isla Taquile. I noticed a black kitten walking around as well, very strange.
Poor Bjorn, has arrived from Arequipa on an overnight bus, and seeing as it was pouring with rain when he arrived in Puno, booked an overnight bus the same day to Cuzco, so the poor lad was tired. I think everyone slept on the 2.5 hour ride to Isla Taquile, seeing as it was still pretty early.
When we arrived at Isla Taquile, we were advised the local people are not as friendly and whisper when spoken to. They are also afraid of dogs, so for once, not a dog in sight. There was a very steep climb to the centre of town, after a few seconds, cheeks are puffed out and the climb is tough and energy sapping. It is amazing how altitude impacts humans, but I figure starting off under 4000m will be good experience for destinations coming up. Once we got to the top, I could see a better view of all the local dwellings, farmed land and of course the enormous lake.
We had 30 minutes to kill in the town, while older people and smokers were slowly making their way up the steep hill. Bjorn and I checked out some local knitwear, hats etc, he had bought family and friend hats and was keen to purchase a few more.
It was now lunchtime, and lunch was being provided (at a cost) by locals all made with local produce.
Lunch was then followed with a bit of music from a local lad and then a presentation about local outfits. If a guy is married he wears a red hat, if he's single, a white and red hat. Saves looking closely for that wedding band. Similar for the women with the funny pom pom things at the end of their platted hair. A man and a woman can cohabit to see if the relationship will work, and we asked if there was a different hat for this situation, but there wasn't they both still wear the single persons hat. Interesting.
A swift 1km walk across the island led us to a 540 step descent to a port to catch the boat to go back to Puno. On the way, I asked Bjorn to take a snap of me in front of monument, however, a little friend joins the picture, for 1 sole. I was going to say no thank you, but the poor thing tripped and landed on her knees. She took a few seconds to compose herself, got up, then stretched out her arm for payment. How could I then say no?
Back on the boat, the sun had finally decided to show itself, and the journey back to Puno was very pleasant,
Anyway, back in Puno, seeing as Bjorn had a few hours to kill till his bus, we agreed to go grab a drink and some food.
I had a great day with Bjorn and a great day overall.
Of course with the beer inside me, I had an awesome night sleep.
Miles walked 1.95
Temp 19 C 65 F
Day 22 January 25th - Oh man, another early start. Fresh from my good night sleep, I was straight in the bathroom, it had been a couple of days since a shower, and with one look at the bathroom, it was going to be at least another day. Unpleasant to say the least.
I'm on a bus heading towards Copocabana and the Bolivian Border.
With the bus to Bolivia, comes the end of my time in Peru. Such a diverse country, Rainforests, world heritage sites like Machu Picchu and Chan Chan, Inca trails, Lake Titicaca, deserts, beautiful beaches, busy towns and an enormous capital city.