Puno goes a little crazy (Islas Uros)

Puno Travel Blog

 › entry 24 of 48 › view all entries

Left the loud but fun "The Point" and got bus to Puno.  An ugly town but an essential stop if wanting to go to the Uros Islands.  Journey between Arequipa and Puno almost English with grassy moorland hills.  On arrival managed to bartar a combined trip to the Uros Islands and a forwarding journey to Copacabana into Bolivia down from 45 soles to 30. Went to the hostel that Dave and Phill had agreed to wait for rest of Arequipa crowd to arrive.  It turned out to be Fawlty Towers - I will pick the hostels in future. Still ok for 1 night.  We went to a fast food restaurant on the recommendation of the hostel for grilled chicken and chips.

  It came with a starter included that turned out to be chicken feet soup!!  I had to eat it for the experience but will avoid at all costs in future !!

Bus picked us up for tour and on way down to harbour and saw Donna, Chad, Matt and Livia who had also checked into Fawlty Towers but decided on doing tour tomorrow and catch up with us in Copacabana. However on arrival at our boat Marika, Emma, James and Stephen (also from, Arequipa beach party) were also on the boat.  

Uros Islands - a group of 14 islands made solely of reeds that have been continually inhabited for 500 years by the Uros culture for the original purpose of escaping the encroaching expansion of the Incan empire.  They succeeded in remaining outside of Incan domination but only recently succumbed to the Uros pureblood dying out through interace relationships and now there are no pure Uros indiginous people.

  However the islands are a unique phenomenon and the Uros culture continues.  Much less touristy than the Rough Guide suggested and after a 15 minute talk about the Uros culture spent 30 minutes walking/bouncing around the reed island.  Fully self sufficient, all houses are made solely of the same reeds the island is made out of.  The islanders are able to grow potatoes underwater, have farms, keep animals and have no need to trade with the outside world.  We all tried eating a bamboo cane which didnt taste of much but water. Slightly sulphurous smell on the island begging the question what they do with waste.  Got a totora reed boat to a 2nd island which was remarkably stable and didnt let any water in.  Spoiled by local kids singing German songs and then asking for money.
  The 2nd island was exactly as the Rough Guide described - a floating market. Avoided the market and climbed a reed tower for impressive views over the island.  Regardless of the 2nd island, the trip was a good value trip and unique experience.

Returned to Puno and walking back to hostel when chanced upon a cacophony of noise.  Turned out it was the annual festival and the whole town was out in force.  A mass of brass bands playing competing music and hand held fireworks being set off all around (actually saw one hit a bloke 5 metres to our right).  They know how to party in South America and health and safety regulations go out of the window !  Watched the mass parade for over an hour with respect on how a community can unite for a mass party and when not part of it, still make the effort to turn out and support it.

  The number of brass instrument players must have hit 500 across 30 plus bands amd seemed to enjoy the challenge of playing louder than the next.

With Peruvian money running low and not wanting to take any more out before crossing into Bolivia, Dave changed US $10 with Phill to cover a night out.  Bumped into Laura (Cusco Spanish lessons) and invited her out to join us where we´d arranged to meet Marika, Emma, James and Stephen.  By the time we had arrived, Stephen and James had already bought a bottle of tequila and invited us to join them in slammers.  Jenny and John from the Arequipa beach volleyball also coincidentally walked into the bar making us a party of 11 and with a PC jukebox chatted the night away until James and Stephen suggested a club.  With the last of the money used up, Dave and I thought that we´d go for a bit of a dance and leave after an hour.

  However festival being festival, the bar kept on handing out free jugs of lager and vodka (well it´d be rude not to !!).  Had a dance and met a Dutch girl.  The free booze continued before Dave, Phill, Laura etc left about 3 leaving Dutch and I to it.  We stuck around until about 4 when I did the chivalrous thing and walked her home in the pouring rain whilst she struggled for an hour to find where she was staying !  Got back to my hostel at 6 with a wake up call for 6.30 to get the bus to Copacabana, Bolivia.  Oh dear !!

What a day....and night !!




Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
photo by: lrecht