Lake Titticaca

Trip Start Jul 05, 2006
Trip End Sep 18, 2007

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Friday, October 20, 2006

We spent three days here after chilling for one more day in Cuzco after our trek. Had heard some very nice reports about the town but really, we were quite disappointed when we arrived. It was quite dirty and run down, with half-finished buildings all over the place. It seems a building is never finished off just in case one might need to extend in the future, so most of them have little iron strips poking up out of them!

We met a lady on the bus who offered us a very good hostel deal so we figured we would check the place out. Five of us headed with her in two taxis and before we knew what was happening, the two cars were pulled over by the police and our lady had to get out! Turns out another guy who had approached us on the same bus was not happy that we had all gone with her and he reported her! Was all fine and she hopped back in and we got our hostel, Samana for 25 soles a night with breakfast or 20 without. The main strip was usually buzzing and it had some nice cafes along the way to chill and watch the world go by. This was much preferable to actually doing anything as we were at 3,900m above sea level so the slightest exertion left us panting!

We headed to the floating islands and Tequila Island on our second day, with Lauren, a guy we met in our hostel. The floating islands really are a tourist conveyer belt. That said, it was interesting to see how they made the islands themselves with just the tortura reed, some string and a few bits of wood. They live here all year round, long after we have all gone back to dry land and it rains for five months solid in these parts so touristy or no, respect! We were also shown a huge saw that can be used to cut yourself off from your neighbours if they are getting on your nerves!!

Tequila Island was really beautiful. From the harbour it looks like a Mediterranean village, with long winding steps and the lake twinkling all around it. It is a really interesting place, the land belongs to the islanders and they have a pact never to sell it to outsiders. The men were all wearing waistcoats, cumber bands, white shirts and floppy hats that they knit themselves. The hats are red if you are married and red and white if you are single. The ladies wore black skirts, red shirts and all of them, young and old alike had a black shawl over their shoulders. The single ladies had bright, colourful pom poms on their shawls but the married ladies had darker ones, some say because they are in mourning! The women spin the cumber bands worn by the gents and great care is put into the one given to one´s husband on their wedding day. The houses were basic but pretty and quite a few of them sported solar panels and satellite dishes! A little piece of paradise and apparently, they have no crime to boot!

Took it easy for one more day in Puno. Headed to the local market, so nice not to be pestered to buy anything and the locals were all very friendly and smiley! While not the prettiest of towns, it has its own charm and was a nice place to spend a few days.
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