Lake Titikaka

Trip Start Aug 17, 2013
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Peru  , Puno Region,
Thursday, November 28, 2013

We arrived in puno at 5:30 am and were met at the bus station by our tour organizer who explained the days proceedings. We left our bags in her office, packed our cameras and got changed, the went and had breakfast. 7am came around and we got picked up in a bus and take to the port of puno, which is on the shores of lake titikaka. We got to the dock and boarded our little Boat for our tour of the lake after Jenny got convinced by some locals to buy some candy for the kids on the islands. The attraction here is that it is said to be the worlds biggest high altitude lake at 3820masl, it is the worlds highest navigable lake, and there are local people here that live on islands made from the reeds growing nearby and have been living in this fashion for thousands of years.

Our first stop was uros islands, home to the uros people. These islands are called the floating islands because they have no fixture to the earth and their movement is only prevented by some carefully placed anchors (rocks) on the floor of the lake. We arrived and it was a little different to what I had expected but still the second item ticked off my bucket list in as many days.

The people here, while still following traditional customs have suffered severely due to the technological era. Where originally they would have used the reeds as string, they now have synthetic rope, where they originally would have paddled reed boats, they now have motorized wooden canoes and where they would have had nothing for entertainment, they now have solar panels and tv's. even still we couldn't help but participate in a ride on a "traditional reed boat" (it had 4 plastic 44gallon drums to keep it afloat, covered by reeds)

The boat ride went for about 15 minutes and took us around the neighbouring island. The only tradition that remained was that our captain paddled the boat by pushing a stick off the bottom of the lake. After the boat ride we had some time to take some photos of the island (about 50m x 50m) and the people (10 families totalling 40 people). As expected, as soon as we arrived back, a fabric and souvenir market appeared out of nowhere and the locals were trying to get us to buy things. It is funny how integrated these people are within the local community, with some even travelling to puno for food and other supplies.

After the uros islands we navigated an hour and a half to another island called tequile where the local Quechua people have lived for thousands of years. This started with a hike from the lake up to the main plaza at over 4000masl where again, there were stores where you could buy beanies, jumpers, mittens scarfs etc all traditionally made. The locals still wear traditional clothes, and I took a lot of sneaky photos of the elders and the kids in their colourful attire. At times we would get caught by the kids and Jenny would just give them candies which seemed to keep them happy.

The views from the plaza were stunning with 180 degree vistas of the lake, with Bolivia in the background... My first glimpse of the county I am visiting tomorrow. After walking around for a while we headed to get some lunch on the other side of the island so we hiked for about another 15 minutes to the restaurant. The views from the restaurant were about 3 times nicer than the other side of the island so we pulled up a chair overlooking the lake. We had a choice of trout or and omelette which was an easy choice for me; the fish in Peru is amazing, and knowing this fish was fresh out the lake made it that much better.

We made our way back to the boat after lunch and on the way back we saw a sign with 5 rules on it. The third rule specifically said "do not give candies to the children" haha. Way to break the rules Jenny! We made the 2 and a half hour journey and headed to puno and I slept the whole way. Can't miss out on the shut eye when it is available. We had booked accommodation through our tour guide and when we arrived back to port we got our transport back to the bus station where the driver was meant to wait for us to get our bags and then take us to our accommodation. When we got off the bus the guy drove off! What the fuck mate! We got to where we left our bags and no one was in the office. Mini freak out. Some random guy somehow had the key and let us in but we were meant to be meeting our tour guide. Well she never showed. We waited an hour in the bus station for our transfer and eventually decided to get a cab. Turns out no one knew where this place was... We asked around and eventually got a guy to call our guide who told us to catch a taxi and she would pay him when we arrived at our accommodation.

When we arrived to our "hostel" (some dudes house), we checked in and the room was far far nicer than we expected. Although I guess anything is nice when you are expecting to sleep in the bus station. The hostel was meant to be 1 block from the town centre... Turns put 9 blocks isn't 1 block but we walked to the plaza anyway. We took some passport photos just in case we needed them for Bolivia (we didn't do any research) and went to this super super dodgy house who's photo room was literally a white wall with a stool, a children's bike and some writing on the wall. We waited for our photos to get processed and when we got them, the guy had photoshopped our flaws out. We went out and had some dinner, did some shopping then retired to bed.
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