Puno - Lake Titicaca and the floating islands

Trip Start Jul 25, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Well getting to Puno meant crossing the Bolivia border...which was yet another experience. The border was in place called Desaguadero. We had to get off the bus and go into the Bolivain police and yet again had to grease their palms and pay them to get out of their country! So we paid & they stamped our passports. Then a load of scruffy kids came running up to us waffling in Spanish. We didnt know what they were on about, and headed back for our bus...10 children in tow! (we wwere sure they wanted to rob us, which was possible too!)
Anyway bus was locked and couldnt get back on, driver had no English but wouldnt let us in! Eventually realised you have to cross the border on foot...which meant crossing a brige into another part of the town. This is what the kids had been trying to tell us all along! So we went into the police who then sent us to migration to get stamped into Peru. Once this was done, the bus crossed the border and we were al allowed back on the bus. had to pay the wee kids for escorting us!
On way to Puno saw the lost spectacular lightening storm. It was amazing, the sky was full of pink & purple fork and sheet lightening. we tried to get some on the camera but dont think I succeeded too well!
We came to Puno to see the floating lakes on lake Titicaca. Got the tour the following day. Islands are made of reeds which they have to build up every two months, as the reeds at the bottom rot away and island starts sinking down. The islands came to be when the Spanish Conquiscadors came to take over the area. The area was called Uros and the people fleed on boats to the middle of the reeds to escape the Spanish. The reeds are so high that you cant see the isalnds hidden within the, from the shore. So the Spanish never found them. The islands are now called Uros after the people who built them. The language they speak is called Quecha (ket-shoe-aaa). The populatio on the islands is in decline...when the young people go to the mainland for college they dont want to go back to life on the islands. Its very damp living conditions and as a result alot of the inhabitants have chronic arthritus and alot of asthma & other respiratory ailments.
The islands have become a bit commercialised thought...tourism is their main economy and their are tours where you can stay overnight with families etc. You rae asked to bring the kids toys & school supplies, but when you see the islands, you see how tourism has changed them. Because of all the tourists there are boats just full of rubbish which have to be rowed to mainland to dump. The natives go arround in native dress (for photo opportunites of course) but then they pull out top of the range nokia mobile to call over to the other island!

We then went to another island called Tequila, this wasnt a floating island. a proper one of soil, rock etc. The smell on the island was gorgeous...smell like like the kitchen at home when a curry is being made. They were bad trees all over the place and lovely smell of other spices and madrass as you walked the paths of the island. The views were gorgeous clear blue sea and sky all around.
The customery dress on the island was very specific to the island. The men wore coloured  hats. If the hat was totally coloured it meant they were married, if half of the hat was white it meant they were single! Enda thought it was terrible that they were ´marked men´! I thought it´d be great idea for the nightclubs at home! However our guide informed us, that when there are fiestas the married men often swap their hats for a haalf white hat!!! Guess some things never change no matter what country you´re in!
The women if married wore a black skirt, while if you were single you wore a bright colourful skirt, usually blue, green or red. The mayor of the island wore a coloured hat like all married men, but on top of this he wore a black bowler hat to distinguish himself from the rest.
Thats all...people were shy, hence alot of the phots show their backs! 
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