Lake Titicaca and the Floating Islands
16.12.2007 - 18.12.2007 25 °C
We left Cusco for Puno and Lake Titicaca with Cruz Del Sur, the gringo bingo bus (the bus that makes you play bingo.... well its good to practice counting in spanish)!!!
It happened to be Cullens' birthday, an american amigo who was also travelling from Cusco to Puno with us! This seemed to cause great excitement with the Cruz Del Sur guy who, after noticing the birthdate on the passport, sang happy birthday over the microphone on the bus ha ha!!
Puno was just a working city with very little except Lake Titicaca, so we would stay only a few days here! We decided to stay at Inkas Rest Hostal where the owners were very nice indeedy who, after hearing about Cullens birthday celebrations, proceeded to ply us with numerous shots! This was at lunch time!!! After 4 or 5 we decided we better head for food before we were sozzled ha ha! A little later we arrived back to find a birthday cake waiting at the hostal which I thought was very nice and even though it was neither Alans or my birthday we had to have a slice, it would be rude not to!!!
Much later we found ourselves in a good bar with a few cervezas...... surprise surprise!!!!
The next day Alan and myself had an early start to visit the Uros Floating Islands and Taquille Island!
After leaving Puno the boat shortly arrived at one of the floating islands on the massive Lake Titicaca. The Uros Islands are made completely with reeds and do literally float! The Ayamari people do still live on them (apparently) and speak little spanish (but enough to sell the odd gringo a miniture reed boat or two)!
The people welcomed us with a traditional dance before greeting us off the boat and on to the squidgy reed island!! It was a little touristy with woman selling numerous artisans in their big skirts and pom poms in their plaited hair BUT it was good fun and everybody was very friendly!!
Walking on the islands was a little weird, it felt like you could put your foot straight through to the water..... but no one did!!!
As we crossed to a second reed island we passed an old woman rowing, in the most inefficient and awkard position of standing tall! They all seemed to like this position!!???
The second island was very similar with more artisans to sell but no hassle all the same!! We also saw a tame Heron that would chirp around the island asking for food ! Not too sure if it gave anything back in reply to the Locals people feeding it though ?
It was then onto Taquille Island.... a little further on Lake Titicaca.
We must have been travelling on one of the slowest boats ever made and so it seemed a life time to arrive.
Ayamari people also inhabit the island (like all of Lake Titicaca) and as we stepped onto the harbour jetty we could see many of the locals, all dressed in their traditional clothes!!
The walk around the island to the main plaza took us past many terraces and small farm buildings! It was extremely pretty in the bright sunshine and one thing we noticed was the cleanliness. The place was litter free which was unusual for Peru! The people obviously were quite proud of their island!
We reached the plaza to find it extremely touristy, not in any particular way only that there were more gringos than locals!!!!!
Kids consistently tried to sell their 1 sol bracelets. One little girl put a bracelet around my arm and tied it in the tightest knot she could in the hope I would give in and just buy it........ but cold hearted me ........ and the fact that she has to learn that gringos are not just the bank of Peru...... let her relunctantly untie the bracelet! They were giggly and nice enough though!
The town Hall seemed quite posh and a few important men, in traditional smart dress, piled out with briefcases..... obviously the guys who made all the decisions here!
It was then time for Almuerzo......... we would have prefered to spend the time wandering around the island but I must say it was a very nice almuerzo, even though it was a little pricey at 12 sols!!!
After the food we walked past more farmhouses and down the inca steps to the port on the other side of the island. As we looked from the very top step we could see a procession of gringos like army ants. A pre toddler was perched precariously on the wall selling bracelets... obviously put there by some money scheming adult!!!
We descended the gringo steps and boarded our boat. The port was a hustle and bustle of both locals and visitors, it was very colourfull! As we sat on the roof of the boat, waiting for the other passengers, we watched local kids playing and woman fishing.... so this is where everyone was!!
Well that was Taquille Island, we both thought it was very touristy and unfortunately we didn't seem to see that much at all!
The boat took just as painfully long on the way back but it made time for a decent snooze ha ha!
Lake Titicaca and the islands had been sunny all of the time but as soon as we came near to Puno the rain hit, suddenly and very hard!!! It seems the lake has its own micro climate!
Later on we visited the local bar again but not too many cervezas as we had another early start and a border crossing......... Bolivia here we come!!!