Puno and Lake Titicaca

Puno Travel Blog

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Getting ready for the tuk tuk ride

For the second time this trip, I arrived in Puno in the early evening. Our hotel had a pool and spa (which I didn't end up using) and cramped rooms. I shared with Steve, the pickle company manager, who had been Phil's roommate. Phil and Tash were given a matrimonial (much more room and a super jet shower, the bastards!). I had a little wander around Puno before we all went out for a quiet dinner.

The next morning, we took little bicycle-driven tuk-tuks to the port of Lake Titicaca. Now, while it was a lot of fun to zip in and out of traffic, it wasn't so fun when our driver ran a red light and veered to the left to avoid hitting the van in front of us. He then had to stop, and drag the tuk-tuk backwards around the corner so he could proceed straight on the road again.

Riding in a boat made completely out of floating reeds.
I mean, it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye, right? I didn't really want to fly through the windshield of a car just cos our tuk-tuk driver couldn't obey simple traffic rules.

We had a guide for the day, Carlos, and our own private boat, although for some reason we had to stay down inside the cabin until we were out of sight of the port, before being allowed to go up on top decked out in life jackets. Our first stop was the Uros Islands, which are famous because it's a whole community living on buoyant totora reed islands. The islands themselves are around 2m thick, strategically attached to poles to stop them floating away. The boats and houses on the islands are also made out of reeds, which gives it all a very cool look. It's crazy to think that these people live and work on these islands - they're just a 40 minute boat ride from the bustling port town of Puno but seem a world away.

Even the guinea pig hutch was made out of reeds

After Uros, it was a 2.5 hour boat ride to Taquile Island. I was determined to stay on the top of the boat, remembering how much I had enjoyed my previous experience of riding on Lake Titicaca, except the wind was bitterly cold and eventually everyone went down inside the cabin except Ann (Aussie/Irish school teacher who lives in Hong Kong) and Becca (English graduate) and I. There was a festival (surprise surprise) on Taquile, so we watched the locals dancing in the main square all dressed up in traditional costume. There was a very good photo exhibition in the town hall - they'd given a few locals a digital camera and asked them to document their life on the island. There were some touching and thoughtful photos.

We followed our guide out of the town centre and to a restaurant where we were served trout or kingfish, and Carlos explained a few things about Taquile's culture.

Steve, Becca, Ann and I on top of our boat: cold but cheerful.
All married men on the island wear red hats that look like long drapey beanies. Single men wear a similar hat but with a white tip. If the hat hangs at the back, they have a girlfriend. Women wear black shawls and apparently there's not a big difference between married and single women, except the pom-pom on a single woman's shawl might be bigger and brighter coloured. Taquile is known for its quality textiles and the men are excellent weavers, so a woman will test her future husband's craftmanship by pouring a cup of water into his hat - if it drips too fast, it's poor quality. (Becca commented that she could have gotten rid of a few boyfriends earlier by using this method.)

Back in Puno, we had another group dinner at a local restaurant, then some of us continued on at the Rock and Reggae bar that I had frequented only a few weeks ago.

A view across Lake Titicaca
The lady at the bar was trying to translate a Spanish slogan into English, so they could advertise the bar on T-shirts, and asked for our help. The slogan was "Aqui no entran borrachos: salen" (literally: here do not enter drunk people: leave), which we turned into "Please enter sober. Please leave drunk". So if anyone sees that saying on a T-shirt, it's all my doing, okay? : )

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Getting ready for the tuk tuk ride
Getting ready for the tuk tuk ride
Riding in a boat made completely o…
Riding in a boat made completely …
Even the guinea pig hutch was made…
Even the guinea pig hutch was mad…
Steve, Becca, Ann and I on top of …
Steve, Becca, Ann and I on top of…
A view across Lake Titicaca
A view across Lake Titicaca
The flag of Peru blows proudly acr…
The flag of Peru blows proudly ac…
Taquile Island locals dancing as p…
Taquile Island locals dancing as …
Youngsters posing for the camera o…
Youngsters posing for the camera …
July Babies: The two Steves shared…
July Babies: The two Steves share…
Puno
photo by: lrecht