Puno and Lake Titticaca

Trip Start Oct 01, 2007
Trip End May 07, 2008

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Flag of Peru  ,
Friday, October 19, 2007

Took the train to Puno. It took approximately nine and a half hours, 6 of which were taken up by playing the longest game of "last card" ever with Paul and Connie. Lou lost in a close finale but it didn´t matter it passed the time. A tip to anyone taking a train in Peru though. Bring your own flask of tea and a packed lunch and plenty of snacks. If not make sure you have dollars or else you´ll get fleeced by the pretty little hostesses with the exchange rate. To the tune of almost a tenner extra for 4 coffees. Other than that the train was comfy and the sights were great. Especially those that we saw in Juliaca, a market town, just outside Puno. You could buy just about anything from the markets plastered all along each side of the railtrack. From knives to mobile phone chargers to sweets to tarot readings to shock absorbers for an old Ford Cortina. I mean anything. I was surprised they weren´t taking pieces off the train as we moved by really slowly. The market stretched for at least a mile along the track. Then just outside the town after we had stopped at the station for a few minutes we were treated to views of an enormous festival on the right of the train. There were thousands of people all dressed up sitting on barrels, rocks etc drinking shots and beer. The colors were endless.

When we arrived to Puno there were street festivals on here too. Our taxi driver negotiated a few packed streets before we decided on Hostal El Manzano just 10 mins walk from the main plaza. Cheap and cheerful as usual but with the added bonus of toilet roll, two towels and a couple of bars of soap. A bit of dinner and an early night was needed and the plan for the next day was simple. Lads = Rugby Final, Girls = Whatever....... Poor old Engerland. The luck just ran out and the South Africans behind us were great craic. Loud and funny. Lou and Connie headed to Chiquito to see the 50 fallices that were supposed to be on display! Its a tourist site so it had to be done hahaha! The town is small and dusty and the fallices(willies) for those not in the know...well were un poco!  Lonely Planet said free in but its 5 soles in.  Disappointingly small (excuse the pun) the site was and it looked like someone just carved a few stones last week and put them in a feild.  However all was not lost as the carnical appeared to be continuing in Chiquito.  We took loads of pics of the parade and the costumes were so colourful and amazing.  Beer trucks arrived and delivered crates and crates of beer.  Half way through i think we were the main event of the day as we got dragged into the parade and we were the only tourists in the town!  We went for queso frita and it was only 3 soles (1.80 euro).  Im not gonna lie im not crazy on the food here!  Unless you like salty rice, potatoes and fried salty cheese........  Its kinda hard to find healthy food its mostly touristico menu´s - pizza, chips, chicken, etc.  Anywho we grabbed ourselves a beer and settled in for the bingo bus ladies dance.  Gas craic, traditional dress and clackers in one hand and cervesa grande in the other!  Then Tom or Mr. Tom as his amigos call him, invited us to sit with his family for cervesa´s!  He was fairly good at english, his son married a french girl and they live in France at the mo and he lived there for a while too.  He told us about the differences between Europe and South America and god love him gave us his hotmail address! We got introduced to the son, daughter in law, wife, sister in law, friend, uncle, brother, nephew and lets just say another brother cant remember!  We scraped through a spainish conversation about the poco fallices and how the lads were back watching the rugby.  Then we HAD to take part in the local custom of filling a glass with beer saying "ching ching" knocking it back, spilling the excess beer foam on the ground and passing it on!  Great fun, Connie drunk, Louie tipsy, had to leave, getting dark...! Great fun! Met the lads randomly in the street and we booked a tour on Lake Titicacca.  We met with Steph again and headed out for dinner that night at the common "1/4 chicken for 6 soles plus salad" place they have in most towns in Peru. I dunno what was in the green rice soup but it almost talked back to Lou. Still though you can´t go wrong for 1 euro fifty for a meal. Follow that with a couple of hot chocolates and some savage tasting cake in the coffee shop down the road and we were set up for a few beers nicely.

Next morning our door was thumped down by two people from the excursion we had booked to the Islands made of Reeds (Islas Uros). They were an hour and ten minutes ealrier than the fool in the agency said they would be. After a few choice words from Conor and Paul they left and we didn´t know if we´d get to go on the tour. Thankfully a different bus arrived about 9.10 (still 20 mins early) to take us on the tour so we jumped on after being fed and watered. Seemingly it was census day in Peru so no one was allowed out except tourists 8am - 6pm.  The reed islands were deffo worth the visit. Our guide Leo gave us lots of info and had a quirky gayness about him too. His big silver gnashers were hypnotic also which probably added to the attention span. We got to travel on the boat made of reeds although we did find out that there were 2,700 plastic bottles stuffed into the hull of the reed boat too. That´s probably why it could take 25 people. The islands are very touristy but they are made of reeds and very spongy to walk on, smell so fresh too.  We got elevenses of reeds, no tea tho!  They are not bad to eat, same texture of a scallion just not much taste!  They are full of iodine too.  They were nice to see and I was glad we went as it was in the top 5 to see in S.A. list.  Wouldnt do anymore than a half day trip tho.  We had the American version of David Attenborough on the boat with us too. He walked behind everybody, video cam in hand talking into an imaginary mic documenting his trip. Flights must be cheap from nerd city these days. God bless the relatives who are asked over to watch that video. Of course Conor still got his cherry nosed face in there a few times too. You never know. Animal Planet are repeating a lot of stuff these days. Paul got the coolest sunburn on his lower legs too. It looks like some hookers went to town on the front of his shins with cheap lipstick.

When we got back to Puno it was like a ghost town. Only a few tourists walking around and 1 or 2 places open. There was a national census on in Peru that day so all Peruvians had to stay in doors. Quite stupid but almost all of them did. Apart from the odd one or two and the police. We´d had enough of Puno anyhow and were just waiting around to get a bus the next morning to La Paz. Ordered pizza delivery that night as it was pissing rain and nobody wante to spend anymore money in boring Puno.

To sum up though we were both very surprised by Peru. It´s got so much to see and you´d probably never have enough time there. Arequipa and Cusco were deffo the best places we´d been to and you could easily spend 2 weeks in Cusco alone. We´ve never seen such diverse weather and temperatures in such short spaces of time too. The food was touch and go though and they seem to have a serious problem with soaking eveything in salt too. Nonetheless we never went hungry and the prices make eating out so much more tolerable.

Bolivia here we come.
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