After booking our bus in Cusco, we took a 7 hour journey to Puno. The bus didn´t seem to take that long...we think it was because there was o much to see on the way. This included a series of stops where locals got on board to sell us food and drink, which all looked very unappetising! It included bags of liquid and bags of looked liked testicles!! After arriving we went straight to our hostel, which again was really nice. We then ventured out into Puno so look for a boat trip that we could book for tomorrow. The town is very small so it was easy to find your way around.
We then booked a 2 day, 1 night trip where we would be staying with a host family for a night...sounded exciting!
Tuesday at 8am we met our group at the port where we set sail for a 30 mins sail to the Uros Islands (floating Islands). When we got there we were greated by locals, who were all in thier traditional dress of bright coloured layered skirts and white blouses with flowers on. Our guide then gave us a talk about the islands. They were amazing - there was over 40 and they were only made of reeds which floated but had to be anchored down so they did not float into Bolivia as Lake Titicaca is shared with both Peru and Bolivia (you could see the mountains of Bolivia). Everything was made of these reeds, including their homes and boats.
We even ate them...tasted good, a bit like celery! On the island where we docked we looked around the houses too and were shocked to see radios and tv´s which were solar powered. After looking round the island we then got onto a reed boat and took a relaxing sail in the sun to another island where we boarded our boat again for a 3hr trip to Armantani Island where we would be staying the night.
Armantani has 10 communities. When we gor to the island we werwe greated by the president of the community where we would be staying. He then introduced us to Matilda. She was the mother of the family where we would be staying. She seemed really friendly and we then walked with her to her home. It was quite an awkward walk as we could not really communicate as she knew no English! After about 10 mins we got to her house where she showed us our room and left us there.
The room had 2 single beds and a double and also a table with 2 chairs. There was no electricity. While we waited for Matilda to come back we tried to learn some quechan from a crib sheet we had been given, so we could try and communicate, well at least learn to say thank you! We seemed to wait for ages and then there was a knock at the door, it was Matilda with 2 bowls of Quinoa soup which she had made. We ate it and then she knocked again and brought in the main course which was rice, fried cheese and 3 types of potatoes. It was good food but the cheese was squeaky when you chewed it! She then brought us some mint tea, which she had picked on the way there. This was horrible! After lunch we gave Matilda a gift to thank her for letting us stay.
It was some fruit, chocolate, sweets and a tin of soya milk. She was very grateful.
After lunch Matilda took us to the football pitch which was concrete but had seats around it for the girls/cheerleaders to watch. The 5 men in our group including Neil played against the locals. The youngest player on the other team was about 10 (who Neil kicked and hurt...he says accidently!), and the oldest was about 70, who was a really good player! Our team won 4-2. Neil was pleased that he managed to score all goals at 12000ft. he did look very tired though! They then played another game where they played some other tourists and won 2-0, Neil scored them too! He is now waiting for the Peruvian managers call. After the football we then climbed up to the highest point of the island to watch the sunset.
At the top we saw pachatata which is the ceremonious ground where the islanders visit once a year to pay their respects to mother earth. We like this religion as it is believable!!! We then walked back down and met our 'families', it was now pitch black and we were met by Yolanda, Matilda´s 13yr old daughter and she led us back to the house. We were taken back to our room and thought we would have to wait here until our dinner but then out of the dark shadows and up the stairs a figure appeared, it was Jesus! Jesus was Matildas husband, and he came into our room to introduce himself and he showed us photo´s which he had received from previous people who had stayed in his home. He also brought a notebook which he had written every person that had stayed.
This went back to 2001. He showed us every english person that had stayed and he seemed so proud. Jesus lit us a couple of candles and then he went back out, it was good as we were able to communicate quite well with him as he knew a little English and was fluent in Spanish. We were expecting for our dinner to be brought to our room as someone else in our group had said that Peruvians do not eat with the people they prepare food for. We were then pleasantly surprised when Jesus came in to tell us to come to their kitchen. We were led out into the garden and into an outbuilding. It was a 6ft by 6ft hut but so well organised. We sat on a bench in the corner, Matilda sat by the stove, Jesus sat by us and the 2 daughters Yolisa and Yolanda sat in the other corner.
They seemed so happy. Matila gave us a bowl of potatoe soup to start, it was massive and Emma could not eat it all. Jesus and the daughters also had the soup. Jesus was the loudest eater ever!! we then had rice and potatoes with melted cheese followed by mint tea. Throughout the meal we managed to chat with the family as we had a spanish phrase book. We told them about our families, jobs and ages. We also taught them how to say thank you in french and german, which they seemed to be really appreciative of. The daughters then used both the words! Jesus then took us back to our room and said we´d be leaving at 8pm. yolada then came into the room with some traditional dress for us to wear. Neil put on a red and green poncho and a native woolly hat.
Emma wore a brightly decorated under skirt and bright green skirt, a white blouse with lots of flowers on it, a black decoratted shawl and a multi-coloured belt that was pulled very tight! We were then led in the dark to the disco, which was a cold brick building. We were the first there. In one corner there was a table set with different drinks to buy and the other corner was where the band was. Once everyone had arrived the band started to play peruvian folk music. the locals then grabbed us to join in with their dancing. This went on for the whole evening and was great fun. We danced with Yolanda, Jesus didn´t join in he sat in the corner and seemed to be the local hero. At 10pm we were taken back to our new home to go to bed.
We set the alarm for 6.15am so that we were ready when Matilda brought in our breakfast at 7am. It was pancakes and jam which were really good. Matilda then took us down to the port to meet our group and for us to get our boat to Isle de Taquile. The boat left at 8am and we said bye to Matilda and thanks in quechan.
Isle de Taquile was smaller than armantani and we walked around for about an hour and visited the main points.We then had lunch in a restaurant (soup followed by trout, chips and rice). We shared this as we weren´t that hungry and it was only 11am. We then caught the boat back to Puno which took 3hrs. We got back about 2.30pm and were then taken back to our hostel. We then chilled out and watched a film in our communual sitting room before going out with Aaron and Jo, who we had met on the trip.
They took us to a local chinese restaurant, which was just full on locals. It tasted so good and was so cheap it was unbelievable! We both has a main meal (which was massive), a litre of coke and Neil had a large beer all for 2 pounds! We then went to a bar for a few beers and Emma had hot wine which is a speciality of Puno as it is so cold there. After a few drinks we all went back to the hostel and watched a film before going to bed.
The next morning we caught the bus at 8am back to Cusco. 30 mins into the journey the bus stopped at the side of thr road. Most of the local women got off the bus after about 10 mins and started squating in the bushes! we didn't know what was going on. After a while we were told that the bus had run out of petrol and that they were waiting for someone to bring us some! We couldn't believe it.
After about an hour we then set off again back to Cusco. The bus seemed to take longer than 8hrs as the police kept stopping the bus along the route to check the drivers documents and to come onto the bus. We arrived back in Cusco and stayed at a different hostel which was lovely, the best so far. We went out to Chez Maggy's for our tea and then went back to watch a film with a few drinks.
The next morning we caught a flight back to Lima where we have been for the last few days chilling out before flying to Buenos Aires tomorrow. We are looking forward to our next country and hope it is as good as Peru.