Floating Islands

Trip Start Jan 09, 2005
Trip End ??? ??, 2005

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Flag of Peru  ,
Friday, April 8, 2005

Our first experience on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca was of some poor guy in his peddle powered tuktuk (not one of these new fangled motorised ones, oh no!)insisting that he would be fine to take the both of us and our rucksacks from the bus station to our hostel. To say he was ´sweating like John Leslie´ by the time he got us there is the understatement of the year. He did it though, bless him, but we really could have walked faster. Imagine the scene, 2 fat gringos being pushed along at 2 miles an hour by one 5 foot nothing local, through people and vehicle jammed streets-just slightly embarrassing.
Puno is the jumping off point for excursions to the famous floating islands of the lake. These are utterly beautiful and utterly bizarre at the same time. It seemed like an awful lot of effort to me to be continually replacing the fabric of their islands especially since they are only floating in water that is about 3 metres deep, are easily accessible from the mainland and are even anchored so that they stay in one place. So why not just move onto the land now that the risk of being attacked by the Incas is well and truly over?
I had an idea that it might be in order to make money from visiting tourists but this proved to be wrong, as you cannot visit all the islands due to the fact that some of the islanders are still unused to and therefore quite afraid of outsiders. This I found incredible, that they have been developing alongside Puno and other towns for hundreds of years and yet have managed to maintain a very distinct way of life, simply by floating in a few metres of water.
Another first for us was spending a night with a family on the island of Amantani (not a floater!). Luckily we turned up on the day of a festival to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the States recognition of the Island as a district (it took a while to work that one out as you ma be able to imagine). This meant that we were looked after, cooked for (potatoes, potatoes amd more potatoes), and led around by the eldest daughter of the family, 14 year old Pilar. Meanwhile, her parents were out dancing and drinking with the rest of the adults, and we didn´t meet them till they knocked on our bedroom door later that night, introduced themselves and told us to lock our door because some of their friends might turn up and, being a bit drunk, try to get in. Oh great!
We were able to watch the dance competition during the day and in the evening Pilar dressed us up in traditional clothing and led us-literally by the hand, there was no electricity, so without her we would have been stumbling in the dark-down to the local Community Centre where we met up with the rest of the Gringos from our boat and were treated to a bit of a knees up, Amantani style. Unfortunately for me all the other Gringo women had opted for the men´s option of costume, a poncho and a hat. So I was the only one there in a fit pink skirt with my nice brown trousers and boots underneath...Obviously Gordon and the two Scotch dudes we were with found this hilarious, oh yes tee hee.
The next day we visited the Island of Taquile where the dancing continued.
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