Puno and Islands in Lake Titicaca
Trip Start Oct 10, 2006
61Trip End Ongoing
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The Peruvians, like the Bolivians, donīt stop partying and they dance and march to blasting live drums and trumpets around the streets all day and night. By the end of each night, you could see they were physically exhausted but they kept going.
To take a break from all the street partying we headed out to see some of the magical islands on Lake Titicaca, the most famous being Isla Uros (Floating Islands).
We caught a local boat at the pier in Puno and headed off. After about an hour we reached the Isla Uros. The story goes that the Uros people isolated themselves from the Incas and Spanish centuries ago by building floating islands out of the tótora reeds that grow abundantly around the lake. Today 32 islands still bob on the water's surface isolated from the rest of the world. To keep the islands afloat, the Uros must frequently rebuild the top layers, as the bottom layers rot and return to the lake's bottom. Its hard to believe how these people live in such a confined space in tiny shelters built of reeds. Although now very touristy, it was still worth a visit and was amazing to meet some of these people to see how they live. The reeds are used for absolutely everything - they even eat them!
We carried on in our local boat to another island called Isla Amantani , there are no hotels or hostels here so travelers are met at the harbor by mothers of local households offering you a bed and evening meal for the night in their homes. We ended up staying with the captain of our ship as I think we befriended him on the way there when we offered him some of our Pringles! He lived in a tiny house with his wife and two gorgeous kids. We stayed there with Peter, a Dutch guy we met on the boat. There was no electricity, running water or heating and the toilet facility was a hole at the end of the garden. We were surrounded by fields of vegetables, donkeys, sheep, pigs and Lake Titicaca. There was no road, just tiny stone pathways so it was very easy to get lost. We did just that and within seconds a local came out of their house to direct us down another path. We ate dinner with the family in their tiny house, the 3 of us huddled around a small table while the family sat on stools around the fire which was also the kitchen, the room ("house") was lit be the fire and some candles. It was an incredible experience, at times the 3 of us just went quite and looked at the family in awe - it really was straight out of another world.
Once everybody was aboard the boat, we sailed to the next island on our list, Isla Taquile. The island is again similar to Amantani. The locals are completely self sufficient, they grow all their own vegetables, eat a lot of fresh fish and spend their days working on the land. We walked the millions of steps to the top of the island were the main plaza is, again the locals were friendly and greeted each of us with a big smile and a Buenos Dias! After a few hours of walking and taking in the spectacular views we headed back to the boat and onto Puno. On the way back we hit a massive storm out at sea, our boat broke down 30mins from shore, we were left bobbing in the water with thunder and lightening heading in our direction fast. It started to hailstone massive lumps of ice, fork lightening hit the water all around us and held for 3 to 5 seconds. We have never seen lightening like this before or so close!! The thunder was deafening, we were all a little scared. After about 10 minutes the captain got the boat going again, the storm stayed with us for another 15 minutes until we slowly escaped out of it and reached the port. Another scary moment to add to our long list of adventures! We arrived in Puno to the sound of drums and more marching bands. They still hadnīt stopped! Today we head to Arequipa which is meant to be a stunning city.