Trip Start Sep 30, 2006
149Trip End Dec 24, 2008
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Everyone in Peru drives like a nutter. Kat always remarks it's a wonder they never seem to crash, I reply I think they do we just never see it. Our time had come. In the taxi from the bus station we approached a crossroads. There is no give way instruction or traffic lights, the rule seems to be who ever gets there first has right of way. Our driver didn't slow down and when we approached the crossroads, the driver took this opportunity to stare at something other than the road. Another taxi crosses in-front of us and all of us, minus the driver, watch, as we smash into the side doors of a smaller Kia style taxi. We are in a bigger estate style taxi and we launch the other taxi across the street forcing its back end to spin around 90 degrees. I´m in the front wearing a seat belt and escape with no problems. Kat and Dan in the back get a good taste of the headrests. It's the other taxi which came off in a worst state, there were huge dents along one side and some very tearful passengers.
The drivers pull over. Our driver, who hasn't apologised to us yet, gets out and appears to start blaming the other taxi driver, even though he wasn't looking and drove into the poor other guy. Our driver comes back and gestures we should take another taxi. He then has the cheek to try and charge us for the small distance we drove. We offer him 2 soles and when I give him a 10 soles note he then try's to rip us off and only gives us 7 soles change! Cheeky rat bag.
We had been traveling around Peru for a week now and wanted to spend a couple of days hanging out in the city. What can be more relaxing than a visit to a museum to see the Ice maiden, Juanita, pronounced Waneeta, not the brown baby that Waynetta Slob so badly wanted, but a beautiful 13 year old Inca girl taken up a local mountain, fed alcohol and smashed on the head till she had died, as a sacrifice to the Inca Gods. This was 500 years ago.
Fast forward to 1995 and some American trekkers come across a frozen girl recently uncovered by unusual hot weather. They bring her down, keep her frozen, carry out some tests and discover she is Juanita, the Inca girl sacrificed to the Gods. Scientists and Archaeologists have discovered enough things about Juanita to warrant a museum but the most hilarious by many miles is that every Inca person carried a little bag with them. Inside this bag they kept their umbilical cords, and yes, when they felt a little bit ill they would take out the chewy umbilical cord and have a little nibble under the believe this would heal them!
We also walked around the famous monastery and the next day we left for Puno.
The first sight of Puno is a non-descript town built with mud bricks and corrugated iron roofs. The town sits on the side of Lake Titicaca. We arrived at the bus station, collected our bags and walked inside. The moment you step inside the bus station you become victims to the tout vultures to prey on. Its low season and the hostals are desperate for any bookings. All 30 touts work for all 50 hostals and they surround you shouting out information and prices waving leaflets in your face.
"My friend, my friend, I give you good price, I give you best price". Dan, who is not used to this in-your-face South American sales pitch doesn't appreciate their abrupt rudeness. Kat, who after months and months of this is hardened to it and will ignore everyone and walk past. While I, love it.
Maybe its being the centre of attention or maybe after some years of sales work I appreciated their hard sell style, but whatever it is I stand up straight, gesture with my arms for my disciples to gather in and address the crowd. "My friends, my friends" I cheekily imitate them "Who can give me a double bed" "Si, si, si" comes the reply from a sea of brown tanned faces and pink rosy cheeks. More furious leaflet waving ensues.
I fire out questions and demands for about five minutes and finish by starting with a very low price for what we are prepared to pay. 10 soles per person. About 1.50p. This statement leaves me with only one desperate tout and so we check into Hostal Los Isllas (the island hostal). The price on the wall at reception declares our room rate is 100 soles and we pay the agreed 20 soles. It must be very low season. The hostal owner whispers to us that the price must remain a confidential secret. His paranoia about the other guests finding out what we payed leads him to remind us every time we pass through reception.
There is nothing to see in Puno. On the cold streets you are constantly hassled by locals trying to sell you everything from finger puppets to food. We wanted to see the very unique Los Uros, otherwise known as the floating reed islands.
Centuries ago the Uros people lived on the shore of Lake Titicaca, they were fed up with the aggressive Inca and Collas tribes and so they came up with a cunning plan. They started to dry out the 3m high reeds and build small floating islands which they could float out into the middle of the giant lake and live a more peaceful life. And so they did. Today there are over 30 reed islands, a reed school, a reed hospital, reed houses and over 1000 people living on the islands.
Enterprising people from Puno started to take Gringos out in boats to visit a race of people who float around the lake on a bed of reeds. Enterprising Uros people also wised up to the tourist industry and started selling vast amounts of reedy souvenirs to the gringos. When we visited the guide explained the many problems faced on a reed island. The reeds below the water line are always rotting away so you must keep replacing fresh reeds or you will fall through and cooking is a very delicate operation; one stray spark on a bed of dry reeds spells problemo.
Took a bus to Cusco in the afternoon and started getting ready for a four day camping trek to Machu Picchu!
Cooper and Brown Out
Love Dan Kat & Dan
Where I stayed
Hostal Las Islas