Crossed Legs and a Headache

Trip Start Oct 22, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Peru  ,
Wednesday, October 18, 2006

You'd think after almost a year of traveling we would be aware of all so called tricks of the trade in regards to ripping off tourists. But no yet again we were the suckers. Having been unable to go rafting we instead used the travel agent to buy an onward ticket to Puno, a small town on Lake Titicaca. With a 10AM bus organised we headed to the station with plenty of time to spare so we were surprised when we presented our ticket to the appropriate counter and one person ran off with our ticket and another took us to the counter to pay a departure tax. We were then presented with a different ticket for another company and quickly shoved onto a bus about to pull out. As we left the station Megan looked at the tickets and noticed that the prices listed on then was 10 Sol, a big difference to the 35 Sol each we had paid to the tour guide. Yet again we had been the sucker!

The day could only get worse. The original bus we had booked was supposed to have a toilet so we had no qualms in drinking a huge cup of tea and glass of freshly squeezed OJ with our breakfast. Unfortunately the bus we ended up on had no such toilet facility and so after an hour we were both busting for the loo. Rick was successful in ignoring his need, Megan however was getting more and more desperate by the second. Eventually she got Rick to ask the driver when we would be stopping for a break and was told ten minutes. That was fine she thought she could just about make ten minutes. Forty minutes later she seriously fearing she would either wet herself of burst her bladder; this time when Rick asked when we were stopping he was ignored. Eventually a nice man across from us banged on the door until it was opened (on some buses here they are locked from the driver's side so you need to knock loudly to get let out) and was also told ten minutes. No way could Megan even wait one minute and so she promptly turned on the waterworks and fearing she was going to vomit, not realising her true predicament, they stopped the bus and allowed her off to run to the back and hide, though at this point she would have done her business in full view, being so desperate.

When she returned to the bus everyone was very sympathetic offering her a variety cures for travel sickness, not realising her true problem. Unfortunately for the rest of the ride Rick wouldn't allow her to read her book or eat anything in case they thought her a fraud.

Eventually arriving in Puno we quickly found a hotel and wandered off the find out why all the flags were at half mast. Turns out an ex-president passed away the day before, aged 70.

We have a confession to make. We didn't think we would suffer from altitude sickness. We stand to be did we suffer. Arriving in Puno at 3820 metres above sea level we found it difficult to walk up the street without huffing and puffing and felt a little uncomfortable with headaches. On the second day at this altitude we awoke with splitting headaches, blocked noses, Rick had bloodshot eyes and Megan was a little unsettled at the palpitations she kept getting every time she walked for more than 2 minutes. Not fun but thankfully it only lasted a day and we were feeling much better the following day for our tour of the reed based Uros Islands on Lake Titicaca. Whilst languishing in our room we did have a great bird's eye view of the Lord of the Miracles celebration taking place in our street.

Lake Titicaca is a massive expanse of water, the highest navigable lake in the world. On our third day in Puno we took a tour out to one of the traditional reed islands. The people that live out in the middle of this great expanse of water build their islands out of the plentiful reeds growing on the lake. They did so to escape the aggressive Incas and Collas and led an isolated existence until the tourists rocked up. That said we can't really talk because we also took part in a tour. It was interesting to see their self sufficient way of life but in a way felt sad that they rely so much on the tourist trade and cannot lead the quiet life their ancestors did.

After our tour we walked along the shore back to town, checking out the wool and wool related products for sale, and took a paddle boat for a spin on a little sectioned off part of the lake. We also made a new friend, a German girl called Silke, on the island tour. We enjoyed dinner with her and spent the evening exchanging travel tips and stories.
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