Puno - Lago Titicaca
Trip Start Jun 30, 2008
80Trip End Dec 31, 2009
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On Friday we said farewell to Arequipa and took the 8AM bus to Puno (altitude 3820meters). Now, I could just leave it at that - it sure sounds easy, a simple bus ride. However, I'd be forgetting that all the kids were feeling sick, and James had to go to the bathroom in the worst way, but they closed the bathroom (because it stinks) to serve a snack (a package of crackers and Bimbo chocolate cupcakes - very dry). James contemplated Raymond's solution of 'going' in a bottle but wouldn't take his pants all the way down at the front of the bus so that he didn't make a 'mess' of the procedure. Poor James had to hang-in there until the bathroom was re-opened. Not long after James threw-up all over himself and Raymond, oh, the joys of bus trips through the Andes with limited clothes.
Puno is the gateway to Bolivia and Lago Titicaca, famous for its floating islands. Lake Titicaca is the highest navigatable lake in the world; South America's biggest lake and the largest lake in the world above 2000 meters. We arrived at 2pm and were on a boat by 4pm headed out for a tour of the lake. We planned to spend a night with a local family on one of these artificial reed islands constructed by the Uros. We spent 70 soles ($23) to stay in a small house built out of reeds. Every time a powered boat goes by the island moves with the waves.
Our hosts Dora & Nelson had a 2 ― year old son Emerson, a real cutie. Unfortunately, he had a horrible cold - my guess is croup and he would follow us around clinging to our legs and saying "arriba" - "up". We had fun playing with him and pray that he will heal soon. The night was pretty cold (frost) but worth it to have a taste of how these people live. Dora cooked in a little reed shack with no electricity; she used a head lamp for light. Dinner was arroz, heuvo y papas.
The bano was simply an open air location behind our house. If you had to go #2 that was a boat ride away in another semi-private, open air locale. The next day we took a family boat ride to go #2 and took food to the family dog that lives there. An unusual experience to say the least but one we will all remember.
We waited and waited for our boat to pick us up the next day but it didn't arrive. So, Nelson gave us a ride in his small boat to a tourist boat on another island. We all got on and headed back towards Puno (turns out we were on the wrong boat, long story) when our boat broke down and we had to be towed back by another tourist boat.
We had 7 hours to kill before our night bus to Cusco so we headed out to the Yavari Museum. The Yavari is an iron-hulled boat built in England in 1862 in no less than 1383 pieces that were shipped to Arica transported to Tacna by train, then hauled by mule over the Andes to Puno (taking a mere 6 years) where it was reassembled.
We walked back on the train tracks from the museum where sheep freely wander about. In the distance we saw something that looked like a gigantic slide. The kids were insistent that we check this out (parents were sceptical) we were all surprised when in fact we discovered the largest outdoor slide we have ever seen. I don't know why this is not in the guidebook except that they are not geared towards families. The kids (and Raymond) had fun sliding and the locals seemed quite interested in us as some of the kids followed our kids up & down the slide.
I am happy to report the night bus was uneventful (thankfully) except that it was very cold. We had all the warm clothes we own on, plus the chullos (llama wool hats) we purchased in Arequipa, but it wasn't enough. The locals were very prepared with at least 2 blankets each - we were envious.
Cusco looks to be a beautiful city, we canīt wait to explore!