Ecce Felus

Trip Start Aug 09, 2007
Trip End Jan 20, 2008

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Flag of Peru  ,
Friday, September 21, 2007

I need a haircut. This much is obvious. It has been for a while. What wasn't obvious was that I should have done it in Cucso. Just down the road from the hostel I stayed in. There was a pelequeria. Not, in itself, exciting. But it advertised using characters from Buffy The Vampire Slayer. The poster in the window had Buffy, Willow and Spike on it. I could have gone in and said "I want to look like Spike." Except I did that a few years ago. I should probably wait before going back to that. Still, Angel, maybe. Or Giles. Sadly, I only noticed the poster on my last night, so it was too late to visit. Another lost opportunity. Shame.
Lake Titicata, then. First impressions were not impressive. A smell of sewage. Fresh and rotting waste. Typical of a port. And the water - mottled with a gangrene scum. Unwholesome algae. Looking like water that had spinich boiling in it for too long. And travelling out on the boat, this initially became worse. At the first reed beds, the algae had thickened between the reeds, looking like short grass. An undulating cricket pitch. And, further out, thicker still. The appearance of mushy peas (or, since this is South America, guacamole. The two things are easily confused. Ask Peter Mandelson). Thick enough for birds to walk across. Now, I may not recall this correctly, but I seem to remember, from my geography classes of twenty-something years ago, that this happens because of an over-abundance of oxygen, in turn caused by too many fertilisers getting into the water. Hmmm.
Nonetheless, we continued on, to the Floating Islands. A fascinating place. Man made islands. Built, buy the Uros people, from the reeds. Initially, just the reeds, now with added reed roots, for extra stability. The people themselves seem to have orientated their lives to providing a spectacle for visiting tourists. Which, in fairness, has served them well - they now have the strongest local economy of any indigenous group. It's a somewhat unsettling experience going there, though. Voyeurism, again. What is this show you're putting on for us? And there was a cat. A cat, living on a man-made reed island. Friendly chap, too. Didn't seem too disturbed. Although cats seldom do.
So after seeing the island, the cooking implements, the various foods (including a section of reed that's edible. Tastes, unsuprisingly, like a slightly more highly flavoured grass), and taking a trip on a reed boat, it was time to move on. Through water that became progressively cleaner, less algae-infested. Reeds, with all sorts of birdlife. And then past the last of reeds, into the deep waters. Sat on the roof of the boat - everyone else decided it was too cold, and went in. Except a young bloke - a student, apparently. Enclosed in iPod headphones. What, I wonder, do you choose to soundtrack Lake Titicata. Something evocative and emotional. Powerful. Bringing to mind water, ancient history, a sense of perspective regarding one's place in the Universe. Got to be Slayer, then. From the 80s. Probably "Seasons In The Abyss".
To a further island. Taquile. A more traditional island, caused by volcanic activity. Populated by another indigenous group, this time with a bent towards weaving. Another wander round the island, look at the crafts for sale. Eat some food. Buy a postcard of an alpaca for my nephew. Leave.
Lake Titicata, from further out, looks like a sea. From the bays of Taquile Island, it was possible to imagine the ocean stretching out in front of you. Indeed, this was the first impression. Once past the slime of the port area near Puno, it becomes beautiful.
Ice Cube, the popster from the sleepy California town of Compton, once sang that "Today was a good day", because none of his friends were killed in South Central L.A. I think I have higher standards. I have had several days on which none of my friends have been killed in South Central L.A., and yet have still turned out to be a tad disappointing. Yesterday was not one of them, however. A good day.
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