Puno (Lake Titicaca)

Puno Travel Blog

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After a a week or so in Arequipa I made the decision to move on slightly earlier than planed.  It was a little uncomfortable telling Charro, my host mom, that I was leaving so soon.  I think she was more upset that she wouldn't be receiving her weekly payment than actually seeing me leave, but nonetheless she was great.  I headed to the bus station and bought the cheapest bus I could find to Puno, only 20 soles, about $7.  It was about an 6 to 7 hour ride to Puno, and I pretty much received the service I paid for.  After waiting about 20 or 30 minutes for the bus to leave I was optimistic that I would have the only empty seat on the bus beside me, unfortunately the fattest guy on the bus waddled on just as we pulled away and sat down beside me. After a few minutes talking to him he pulled out his newspaper which on the cover had a the headline "22 People Dead in Bus Crash" complete with pictures of mutilated bodies. Not exactly comforting, given the cheap bus and the state of the bus itself.  The ride was actually not all that bad given I survived in tact.  I arrived in Puno at about 7, and it was incredibly cold.  Probably around 2-3 degress celcius, thankfully I was a slightly prepared with my Inca toque to protect myself. 

I checked in to my hostel which was a really nice place quite effortlessly.  There was free internet, lots of movies, breakfast and an added bonus of 24 hour hot water, a luxury I was greatful for.  As I checked in i met an Israeli guy in my room and we went out for dinner together. He was a really nice guy, we had some good conversations about his three years in the Israeli army.  After dinner we met up with some Maltese girls who had been living in a convent for a couple weeks so they were excited to get out from under the view of the nuns.  We went to a couple good bars, Puno has a small tourist sector which is really nice. Pedestrian streets, good restaurants and interesting bars full of travellers.  We headed back to the hostel around 12 and fell asleep quickly.

The next morning I got up early after a great sleep and booked a trip to the Uros Islands.  The Uros are floating islands which the natives have inhabitated for hundreds of years after they fled the war-mongering Incas. The islands are made up of tortora reeds stacked upon one another until they are about 3 to 6 meters thick.  There was about 40 islands which different families lived on, with about 3000 people in total.  It was pretty interesting to see how they built their homes and were constantly rebuilding their islands. However it was rather tacky and exploitative in my opinion.  Very little of their traditional culture appears to be seen,  which I noticed as they sung a half hearted version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, for some unexplained reason.  AFter that they wwere basically trying to sell little souveniers to everyone, good for them I guess, they all appear to be doing quite well.  Not a skinny person in sight from what I saw.  After the islands I headed back to Puno and wandered the streets for a while and got ready to go to Cuzco and the centre of the Inca Empire which I left for the next day.

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photo by: lrecht