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Puno, Peru

1st-2nd Dec
I need to start by saying I am dreading putting photos into this blog entry as there are so many that I love. Please look at all the ones from Puno/Lake Titicaca as I want you to see them all!!!

Wednesday morning we put our stuff in storage and made our way to the native islands of Lake Titicaca. We were picked up and taken to the lake to get our boat to our destination. We made friends with Melanie and Andrea who were travelling together from England, and we met another traveller-cum-friend-Lucy, a fellow Kiwi!!! A first for both Lucy and I in South America- and I thought that the Kiwi was only rare species in our homeland. Towards our destination my new found girl posse spent the boat ride comparing travels (Mel and Andrea were coming from the way we were heading) and telling them stories of Australia and NZ, while Pete started reading his 14th book.

Our first stop on the boat was to the floating islands of the Euros people where we had ladies singing and greeting us when we were getting off the boat. These islands were amazing. They are totally man made, and made from Totora reeds. When you stand on them, they bounce and squish!! On the island we were given a demonstration about how the islands were made by the chief of the island he explained that, “they use the existing native reeds, which have buoyant properties as the foundations of the island and we put layers of harvested reeds over top creating a natural-artificial land bank; three metres of reeds per 10kf of inhabited weight!” Well I think that’s what he said. Once a month the residence must put more layers of reeds on and once a year need to fit new roofs. They use the hard ends of the reeds for materials and use this same method to renew their boats, which unlike their houses last 3 years. By association the island peoples should be made of reeds as they eat them too. We were shown how to peel and eat one, the taste not being very exciting. They call them the island banana. If we thought that their transport and culinary systems were a tad old reed hat, it must be said that they do have solar panels fitted to generate electricity, boasting stereos and black and white TV for all on the island! The chief also showed us how they hunt for duck and demonstrated duck calls and mimed how to kill one of these illusive suckers. The chief was very comical in his presentation and a natural showman even without the assistance of English. Some of the locals dressed us in their trad clothing and again we were shown their merch to buy. We did enjoy the floating islands very much and could’ve spent longer just sitting on their islands and playing with their babies in the
non-criminal sense.

Our next stop was Isla Amantami where we stayed the night. We were greeted by the locals who were also going to be our hosts for the evening. We were divided up into groups and all taken to our hosts homes where we were shown our rooms introduced to the families. We were with Mel and Andrea who’s Spanish was definitely better than ours, but still not enough to have a conversation or find out too much about the family or the cultures. We were feed a great lunch with some fried cheese that tasted just like haloumi (we were all so excited!) and spent the afternoon playing with Sabrina, the young girl of the family, who seemed to be very scared of Pete and didn’t want to play with him, or me for that matter, she was very taken by the other two tho! I won her over later with lollies, the best way to a child’s heart.

Later in the afternoon we went for a walk to a nearby mountain; the name of which escapes me again. Pete decided he had had enough walking, so I went with the girls and meet up with the rest of the group. I need to tell you here that I wasn’t entirely happy with our guide, the fact that we had a language barrier with our hosts we couldn’t get all the details of the walk, and our guide didn’t explain until we met him that we were watching the sunset on top of the mountain. What I’m trying top say is that the group didn’t bring enough clothes and froze. The sunset was beautiful though, and at the top of the mountain was a big square fence surrounding God knows what, of which the locals once a year walk around three times and ask for a wish from Pacamama (Mother Earth). We all did the walk and I think most of us wished for rain for the island and its people, as it has been a particularly dry winter so far and they couldn’t grow any lucrative crops. We watched the sun and hopped around trying to warm up and finally walked back to the house to put on more layers and have a dinner. Another thing we can’t get over is how the meals always seem to be served with two types of starch- rice and chips or rice and potatoes and meat. Guess its an easy way to fill you up.

After dinner our hosts dressed us up in their typical clothes and took us to a fiesta. All the other groups were there with their hosts and they had young guys playing music and we all danced around in big circles or with the hosts or with each other. It felt very much like a blue light disco that you would’ve gone to when you were twelve. It was funny at the beginning but went on a bit too long at the end. Our guide didn’t even show up, arsehole. There was no talk of any kind of typical dance or music and we had questions about the rest of our tour that couldn’t be answered. Very disappointing. Pete and I had bought some writing books and pens for the kids, so we handed them out and made some friends. We sweated our arses off. We had layers of our own clothes on underneath as we were so cold earlier. While dancing to the local music my skirt fell down, lucky I had the layers of clothing on underneath hey? We walked back to the house, Pete and I looked at the stars which were amazing. There were no electric lights, so the night was bright.

The next morning our hosts fed us breakfast and took us to the dock. We said our last goodbyes and hopped on the boat to go to Isla Taquile. The lake was very choppy and the boat extremely rocky not to be cocky Mel and Lucy were a bit worst for wear from the trip-we were fine. We arrived and had a lovely but awkward upward walk up a hill to get to the town square which was large and quite deserted. Our guide gave us a half hour free of time to look around, not really knowing where to go or much about the island, so couldn’t really do to much, another upset for Rochelle (this is my whinge time ok?!?!) In our half hour we took photos and looked down at the streets around the square and noticed that there were only footpaths, no actual roads as the island doesn’t have cars!!!!! Our guide took us to a restaurant for lunch where we had the best tasting trout ever that was caught from the lake. At lunch our guide explained a few of the customs of the locals. All the men wear hats, and depending on the hat and how its worn, it describes marital status. One type of hat can be worn three different ways. When the tip sits to the left means you’re looking for a long term partner; to the right means you’re looking for a partner just for the night, and the tip to the back means you’re not looking at all. There is another type of hat means your in a relationship, and there is also a bereavement hat. They have a rule that you must live with a partner for two years before you get married, as once you are married there is no divorce (he said that there were no problems with this, but how can you know?) They have no police and all problems are sorted out by the chief. Last of all, the islanders only have three rules to live by- don’t lie, don’t steal and don’t be lazy. Disobey these and your thrown off the island. Sounds a bit like a reality TV show aye!! Seems to work for them though!!

We got the boat back to Puno, had showers and met up with the girls and an Canadian couple for dinner. As it turned out, the place we decided to meet happened to be the main plaza where the locals were holding a election rally!!! Not as deserted as we planned. We found each other tho, and went to dinner, where we had wine, I have been missing a nice glass, and listened to Peruvian music. Pete and I went out to a funky little bar afterwards where we listened to Bob Marley and read all the notes on the wall left by travellers. They now have a couple of Lung Shrubs stickers to go with it!! It was a great couple of days exploring places completely different to anything we know.

permalink written by  Pete+Rochelle on December 7, 2010 from Puno, Peru
from the travel blog: Round the world!!!
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Heeey! Finally getting round to catching up with your blog! It´s our last day in SA .. heading for NZ tonight, so looking forward to it, since i just watched a girl get mugged outside our hostel by a guy on a motorbike!

Anyway ... Pachapapa was the name of the sacred Mountain which persuaded me, in its infinite Wisdom, not to do the Inca Trail! Andrea had a hard time of it, it´s all in our blog though.

I love your puctures, and your knowledge of the reeds .... were you taking notes!?

Take care x

permalink written by  Melanie Legge on December 19, 2010

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