Trip Start Feb 11, 2008
57Trip End Mar 22, 2008
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The night before we left I was walking around town and was freezing cold so tried to buy a pair of gloves. The old lady wanted 5s I said 3 she said 4 I said 3 she said 4 I said 31/2 and she let me walk. So I went back and paid 4s which is less than $2 so a bargan. We had an early start to the Islands and cos I wasnt on a tour I had to wait for the boat to fill up. There were people from small tours and different tour companies but eventually we were under way.
First stop was the Uros Islands. These are the floating islands. There are about 50 of them, 3000 people live on them, they even have 3 elementary schools and a hospital on them. They are made of Tortora reeds and they just keep topping them up. We got to the island we were to visit and the women were all dressed in the traditional costume and were waving to us like they were happy to see us. Then we had a talk on how the islands are made, with a demonstration, and the big sell. ¨Buy here cos the next island is different¨. They had tappestries and mobiles made out of reeds and the usual toys etc. For an extra 10s you could have a ride on a reed boat to another island.
Two hours by boat from here and we are at Amantani Is. We got split up for the family we are to stay with. I got stuck with a Guatamalan guy from Canada who looked like a total dick in his souvineer poncho, but he turned out to be an OK guy and cos he speaks both english and spanish he could interpret for me. Lunch was soup and fish with 2 kinds of potato, no sauce or anything just dry potato. We ate in the ¨dinning room¨just off the kitchen. The whole room was about 8ft wide and 15ft long with a dirt floor and plastic roof. The table was on such a lean the soup spilt from one side of the bowl but luckily the bench seat was at the same angle. The bed rooms were reasonably new but you had to duck to get in or bash your head. Once in I could stand, just.
It was decided that at 4pm we would hike up a hill, just for fun. This just happened to be the highest hill on the island. Dont forget we are starting at an altitude of 3800 mtr. The walk is supposed to take about 45 mins... yea bull. Half way up was a guy with a horse but no takers. It was tough, steep and unbelievably difficult. The altitude made my breathing so laboured. I got to over 4500 mtr but missed the top by a couple of hundred meters. I could hardly breath, and my eyes were going to tunnel vision. That spells AMS to me so I stopped and headed back to the bottom. There were women farming up here!!!
This has made a decision for me. IM NOT GOING TO BOLIVIA. The reason for going was to climb Isla del Sol but I dont want to die so Im not going. Instead Im heading down hill as far as pos. Im going to stay in Puno for a couple of days and look around then head to Cusco and Machu Pichu then the jungle.
Dinner was soup again and rice and vege´s. We were going to traditional dancing at 8 but it was raining so most of us skipped it and went to bed. The bedroom floor had the same angle as the dinning room so I spent half the night trying to wrestle the blankets back on to the bed. In the morning I was dying to sh........lets say I needed to use the ablutions. I had to wait till light cos there is no power. There is a bowl but it is not bolted down so you cant sit on it and the cistern is just there for show as well. I ended up having to get a bucket of water to wash it down.
The only stop on the way back was Taquile Is. Like Armantani we had to walk up hill but this time it was for lunch so no going back. It turned out to be a much easier climb so we all made it. The trail comes out in the town square and the men walk around in traditional dress and they all knit. UNESCO has declared these people the best weavers but to me it didnt look much different than the stuff I have already seen and way over the top in price. We were taken to a restaurant for a demo on local customs and dress then while we were there may as well have hughly overpriced lunch. I walked out cos my guts still not 100% and a few others followed. If they charged reasonable they would get more. Of course we hiked up so we have to come down. Down is in some ways harder cos you are on the balls of your feet all the way but we all made it. The 3 hour boat ride back to Puno was pretty quiet cos most people slept.
Im gonna stay in Puno for a coupla days then head to Cusco but there is a strike on that road so I dont know when that will be. I hope day after tomorrow cos the buses are going around but it costs twice as much and takes twice as long.