The plaza de armas of Puno. Very nice. Check out the music playing Mexicans in the blue, love those guys.
We arrived on a day bus (for a change) from Cusco at about 3 in the afternooon, and as usual were greeted at the bus stop by people trying to get us to stay at their hotels. Found a good deal and snapped it up, conveniently (or maybe too conveniently) this guy also sold tours to the islands and also buses to La Paz, so we booked the lot through him (after a little bit of hunting in the city to check he wasn´t ripping us off).
We chose to visit the floating islands and also spend a night on the Amantani island.
The boat left at 8am and after not long we arrived in the floating islands. These are amazing, islands made from the reeds from the lake. The people on the island are quite short and seriously overweight. Apparently not because they eat too much but because of rheumatoid arthritis (well that’s what the guide said). Its weird walking on the island, it certainly doesn’t feel solid that’s for sure, and some bits are quite spongy, you fell like you may fall through into the water! Apparently the islands are 2-3m thick, which doesn´t seem nearly enough to me, as they have ´houses´ and people to support!
In the boat harbour at Puno. A nice green layer of reed.
At the local school the school teacher cornered AC and I so that the kids could sing for us, They were soo cute even though we had to give them a tip at the end; and the guy wants us to send him an aussie flag with our signatures on it.
Next stop was where we would spend the night, Amantani island, but not before 3hours on the boat.
This was the point where everyone else on the boat pulled out books MP3 players the works, and we had nothing. I think we went for too light on this trip. AC was sad that he couldn’t spend the time ´penning thoughts´ as he is very behind on the journal.
The Islas de Iros (floating islands).
Amanatani island looked like it was straight out of Inca times with all the terracing everywhere you could look, not a natural space anywhere. There are 9 communities on the island and we would stay with one, (I assume that they change with community hosts the people each night so they are not cooking for gringos the whole time). Being chosen by the families was like being in school being selected for sport, and by the time we were chosen by a family we really felt like the dregs. But it wasn’t to be. Casa Lucio was great. He took us up to his place where we awaited lunch (it was 2pm and we were starving (packed too light so no snacks on this trip) the lunch was great, quinoa soup and potatoes with cheese (not something we’d tried before but we were pretty happy.
After another short siesta we headed up to the top of the island to view the sunset. I was a little distracted as there was lots of shopping on the way up the mountain, the ladies had all their crafts out for us to buy, but as usual I couldn’t pick - too much to choose from. Lucio had been worried about us and given us special beanies to wear up the mountain so we weren’t cold even as the sun went down.
The boat pulls up to the one of 34 floating islands.
The best part about walking up the mountain (to the temple) was we had a great view of the sunset. So as you can imagine we went a little snap crazy with the camera (don’t worry we didn’t put them all on the website). After taking in the views we bought hot tea and donuts at a little makeshift café on the path back down the mountain,
We arrived back to the town in the dark, but Lucio managed to spot us amongst all the gringos and take us back home.
For dinner we had the opportunity to eat with the family which was very cool. The kitchen and eating was in this little mud brick room. We had brought them a kilo of rice and a kilo of pasta, both came in very much handy for dinner, which was rice, pasta and a few potatoes (carbo loading for a big day ahead). It didn’t look like much when they served it up, but with that many carbs you get full very quickly! Entrée was some more quinoa soup, no complaints it was really yummy.
A whole family lives in here!
Our communication let us down after dinner (partly because they spoke Quechuan (the language of the ancient Incas) and we obviously didn`t), where we thought we were having an hour siesta before the `diskotek´ but actually after 25mins they came in with clothes for us to wear to the party. AC got off easy with just a poncho and beanie. I have to wear this full on outfit consisting of embroided shirt, red skirt and waist band (tight!) and a black shawl thing for over the head, oh and the beanie as well.
It was nice to be warm though. The discotek was a hit, we danced to some traditional dances with the locals, AC was really tearing up the dancefloor with our mum who was the littlest lady I have ever seen.
Having a lay in the reeds (the floating ones).
The next morning pancakes and back to the port to take the boat to the next island.
Taquile island looked a lot like Amatani, but the people were dressed quite different. And our guide said that they were not as friendly as those we had spent the night with !! The view walking up from the port was quite spectacular, but much more touristy than Amantani island.
Children were running around asking for cash to have their pic taken.. I succumbed as they were very cute! The most interesting tradition of this island was that the men wear funny coloured hats. If their hat is red and white it means they are single (young and randy) and if it is completely red then they are married. And then if it is multi coloured they are a person of authority. The women have similar things with the pom poms on their shawls, which are bright coloured if they are single and dark if they are married. We had fun checking out all the people in their funny coloured hats. Out time on the island was complete after a very yummy lunch with a great view. We had king fish (first time I’ve eaten fish in a bit) and it was delicious. Then the long boat ride (3hrs) back to puno. This time we passed the time we sunbaked on the top deck of the boat, and got tips from the other travellers about Bolivia. Very convenient.
One of the other islas floatas.