Puno and Lake Titicaca
Trip Start Sep 22, 2011
83Trip End Aug 11, 2012
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After the beautiful city that was Cuzco we felt a little let down as Jack (our truck) rolled into Puno. It was a lot more as you would expect a South American city to look, with a lot of industry, unpainted buildings and cars everywhere! Our hotel was actually pretty nice and another soft bed was very welcome. We had a brief orientation tour, which is mainly a single pedestrian road on which there are plenty of restaurants and bars, coupled with a few plazas. Also around were a couple of kareoke bars, but more about them later. As with all the other cities we've seen in Peru the plazas were immaculately clean, had plenty of greenery and were very sociable places for the locals. Just off the cathedral plaza there's an awesome bakery called Rico's Pan. In here we spent a fortune on gorgeous cakes, pastries and empanadas. These were all bought as snacks for our trip out onto the lake on Tuesday.
The excursion to Lake Titicaca was detailed as an insight into how the locals live on the lake. We met in the morning and were very surprised to find that our transport to the docks would be on rickshaw type bikes. These were brilliant fun and most of the riders raced each other, much to our amusement. Once on the boat our first stop was the floating islands. These were located in the reeded area of the lake. Each island was about the size of a tennis court and were made completely out of reeds, and yes, they were floating, but because of their size you couldn't feel them rocking. There were over a dozen little islands in the area and each accommodated for tourists in a similar way. Ours had a huge lookout tower in the shape of a fish. All the houses were made of reeds and although the greeting and show was touristy you could tell these people did really live out here.
After the reed islands we had a 3 hour boat ride to the island of Amantani. Here the group was split into pairs and each was assigned a Mama. These were local ladies who would let us stay with their families for the evening. Mine and Alex's Mama was Enselma. We walked with her to her house and were invited for lunch in a tiny but cosy little kitchen/dining room. The main house was normal (by our western standards) but the kitchen was a small mud brick building and very cultural. Lunch consisted of a gorgeous quinoa soup followed by A LOT of potatoes and fried cheese. The cheese was like halloumi. The locals on the island all speak Quechua (their native language) and most speak Spanish, but not all and only as their second language. We had been given a sheet with a few Quechua words and phrases, so we were able to say greetings and compliments. Luckily our Mama spoke Spanish too so even with my limited vocabulary I was able to ask a few more things about her, her family and her home. Apart from that tho there was just lots of polite nodding and grinning.
After dinner we walked further up the hill and met the rest of the group and their Mamas. We then walked up to the top of the island to visit the Temple of Pachatata (Father Earth). There was a Pachamama Temple (Mother Earth) on the other hill, but that hill was higher, and we're lazy! The views from the top however I imagine to be just as stunning. We could see the whole side of our island and got an idea of just how big Lake Titicaca is as it stretched off into the distance.
After the walk down we went back to the house for dinner. The soup to start and main course were again simple but delicious and very filling. After dinner we headed back up the hill again to meet the group for a little fiesta and dance. All the girls had been dressed up in traditional skirts, shirts, colourful bands and head scarfs, whilst us lads got a simple poncho and hat. I did like the poncho tho. Very warm. There was a local band from the island and for every song we danced with our partners, Mamas or Papas. It was a great laugh and a fun evening.
In the morning we were treated to a breakfast of tea, coffee and local fried breads before wandering back down to the docks to catch the boat. The next stop was the neighbouring island of Huillanopampa. Here we had a little hike around the the island to the main town square where we stayed for a while before having lunch. For lunch we had the local trout from the lake and it was absolutely gorgeous (sorry dad but it rivalled even yours). After lunch we had another little hike to the otherside of the island for another 3 hour boat ride back to Puno. We passed the time by playing cards at the back of the boat and hiding from the relentless sun.
Wednesday was the last day on the tour for Grace and the Germans, and so we thought it only right to say goodbye with a little night out. First we went for a very tasty meal at IncaBar on the main road before heading to Positive for some drinks. The bar had an mezonine area with UV lights and cushions on the floor. This made a really cool little hide away for our group whilst we drank beers, G&Ts, rum and coke and gin con gin (gin and ginger ale). After a few more cheeky drinks we had the great idea to end the night in a karaoke bar... oh dear! It was actually brilliant fun as we destroyed the classics with our dulset tones. We however discovered that Locky could actually sing, so we were more than happy to let him lead with a few of them. The Germans did a beautiful rendition of a Backstreet Boys song, which for some reason required them to get topless.
All in all it was a very fun night and an excellent way to say goodbye to the guys. Thursday morning however was not so fun. Everyone in our little group that had been out with us woke up looking like death warmed up, me especially! A couple of Rico's Pan empanadas later tho I was fixed and just very tired. We said goodbye to people and jumped back onto Jack for a wondeful day of driving, moaning and sleeping. We drove round the coast of the lake and headed for the boarder. Next stop, Bolivia.
Hope you are all well and enjoying te updates. Talk to you all soon.
Love us two