Peru Expedition 2009 Part Six: Puno & Lake Titicaca

15th August 2009 - Deputy Leader
This morning was an early rise with a 6am taxi to the bus station where we got a "late" 7:30am bus to Puno. It took seven hours to get there with one stop in San Pedro.
At times it was dull and some of the girls decided to sing songs from Guides, Brownies and Year 8 trips. And at other times it was great fun ie. Libby going mental through Juliaca and giving guinea pigs voices, then hitting her head so hard on the driver's cabin door that it swung round and hit him on the elbow!
Once in Puno, I had to stay with Paul and some others at the bus station with the bags while Maggie took another group to look for accommodation.
She and Imogen came back over an hour later to tell us they'd booked a place called 'Qoñi Wasi'.
Everyone was split into twos or threes and we got 'MotoTaxis' (Tuk Tuks) to the hostel. Paul and I had a right laugh. This was the first time I actually started checking my bag hadn't fallen off the back. They really weren't very stable but they were a lot of fun!
Inside Q.Wasi you took your first step inside and knew it was going to be good. For one, there was a proper communal area with a TV. There was also a kitchen, internet and the rooms were much cleaner with hot showers! We were all extremely satisfied!
However I'm not so sure - from what I've heard - that the leader's room is as great... :P :S
Dinner, one word: PIZZA! After waiting since Cuzco to eat properly, I had an amazing cheese, ham, bacon and red pepper pizza! B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L! - and filling. I was so happy!
We were all super tired so we went to bed early.

16th August 2009 - Leader!
This morning was brilliant. We had a lie in til 8am and then a group of people had some scrambled egg and fried the leftover rolls. People were buzzing! Ketchup was bought too! Oh how I miss it! Peruvian ketchup is so weak...
Then we didn't know what to do with ourselves. Maggie of course got all the well people together and took us to book the boat trip around Lake Titicaca. S/25 per head which turned out to be S/35 due to a S/10 entrance fee to the islands.
Lunch was a pasta-ish mush with cheese and ham and I then went on the internet (S/2 for an hour and a half - too small to convert to sterling I think).
That afternoon Libby spent squealing in the kitchen trying to make ciabatta bread in saucepans (no oven) and curry.
She let me help at some stages (i.e. with the bread) but most of the time she told me I was ill so I shouldn't -> to which I replied I wasn't so it was weird game of trying to help where possible without her noticing and her snapping at me when she realised :P I may have snuck a lot of pepper... Cooking with Libby is one big comedy sketch! She freaks out over small things, drinks lots of coffee and then freaks out some more. So funny!
At 7pm the curry was ready. Paul managed to muck up the rice but at least the sauce was delicious, spicy, but delicious! Lib had slaved away for six hours by that time bless her heart so no surprise, she was a gonna that night.
During the night Libby freaked us out by asking "have we missed the alarm" because she'd heard one in her head! It was 12:48am!! Then Sophie suddenly yelled "wait! Hold a sec!" which scared the life out of me and Han B.
The night before I had had a dream about staying with Michael Jackson's evil family, Team 1 (us) doing charity work in a garden centre and sitting on a sofa with eight adorable brown puppies... [Yay for weird dreams!]

17th August 2009 - No role.
*Note: I am sitting here now inhaling petrol fumes on the back of a boat on Lake Titicaca. I think I may either end up smelling only petrol fumes for life or hating it for life*
We woke this morning at 5:30am so we could arrive at the harbour for 6:45am.
Choking down a croissant for breakfast we swept up the mess and our way down.
First was a half an hour ride to the Uros Islands (the floating islands) where we stepped off and almost sank into the straw that covered the ground.
Our guide Jose summoned us over to gather round in a group so he could give us a talk (that I translated). He explained the main features of the lake (length, width, altitude etc). Then he turned his map of Lake Titicaca upside down and asked us to tell him what animal it looked like. He thought a rabbit, we thought a Gromit.
Next he explained how it was built: a very large layer of mud and 'totora' (Spanish river reed) under a layer of straw and reeds imported from India (!!) Stones and rocks are tied together to stop the islands floating away and causing collisions of passage, basically to anchor the islands down.
After this, we took a quick look around, sinking a fair few times and bought some crafts made by locals. Jose also let us see inside his hut which was cluttered, but homely. They got electricity by solar panels and batteries.
The locals have to negotiate for food (etc) in Puno using their crafts. Their work is their source of living.
Beth and Gurthej, and then Paul and Mr O climbed a very weak ladder to stand on a very questionable watch tower. It was funny and scary to watch.
Gurt and Paul managed to fall through to water a couple of times before we got on the boat to the island next door, not even two minutes apart.
Some opted to take a reed boat there for S/5 - but considering the distance I didn't see the point.
Instagram: @talbstar
On the second island were some more huts and craft stalls as well as a restaurant and a couple of shops. The craft stalls were run by one woman who lost a sale when she told me what one of her sculptures meant, but refused to tell me what it was made of. I know I sound bitter and drive a hard bargain, but I didn't want to buy any old stuff :3
You could have your passport stamped for S/1 but we didn't see the point as we already had our passport stamped at Machu Picchu.
After this Jose called us back to the boat and we set off an a two hour journey to the island of Taquile. I sat on the back where it is was windier but you got better views. We saw loads of other islands with their own giant straw sculptures made out of reeds. One for example had a fish! We saw a couple of rituals and performances from afar as well.
Once we were away from the islands I had to remind myself I was we were on a lake not the sea. The lake was so huge! It was a smooth journey there with quite a few of us snoozing out the back - or in my case staring off into the distance while lying down whilst wearing lifejackets that Maggie and Mr O have made you wear... They weren't comfortable...
You could sit on the roof of the boat as well and you got a 360 degree view of the lake! It was a lot windier up there though. Plus the fact that Jose was 'sunbathing' fully clothed with his backside to me while I was up there didn't encourage me to stay up there long.
The group arrived at the island of Taquile and hopped off the boat. I completely missed the timing of the boat swaying and ended up almost crawling off, oops...
*Bolivia in the distance.
A woman offered to feed us for S/15 a head so we set off to her house. It actually turned out to be more of a restaurant and you could see some breathtaking views of the snow-capped mountains of Bolivia [send out "Hello Becky's grandma!" mental waves :P [Becky was a friend of mine from school]
I didn't have the soup starter but the trout was too good to resist! It was delicious!!!

After this a band of four old men and a woman dancing began to play. We'd heard them from another place where they hadn't sounded that great but once up close they didn't sound half bad. Soon after we continued on up the hill to the main square.
The path was very steep and there was only the view really as a reward at the end.
We took a look inside a textiles mini market in a large factory. They were selling hats, belts, and small embroidered bags. They were lovely but rather out of our price range...
I bought a bracelet from a girl outside who clearly had no personal boundaries. [Name that Disney movie quote!]
Then we continued up the hill and over the other side of the island back to the boat. Not before Gurthej and I had bought wooly llama toys.
The boat ride back was choppier and chillier.
As Taquile fell into the distance we had to ask ourselves: what was so unique about it? The floating islands had brighter clothes and made their arches and houses. 
I updated my diary on the journey back and it got colder after 3pm. It was roughly 5pm when we came into dock.
That night we had some amazing Spag Bowl and watched a terrible Jennifer Anniston movie with terrible subtitles.
Packing that night was simple and many turned in early.

Stay tuned for Part Seven: arriving in Arequipa!
Han Meets WorldComment