Puno, Peru


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The highest navigable lake in the world!! (continued)
Thu Nov 21, 2002 8:29 pm

In Puno, we were accosted in the bus station by Edgar, a guy who worked for a tour company. He sold us on a hotel, then talked our ears off about tours, etc. We decided to visit two islands nearby, and booked our trip for the morning.

On the way to the islands, we stopped to visit the Uros, a group of native people who live on floating reed islands in Puno Bay. The islands are a definit experience to walk on- very squishy and strange feeling- but they are just a tourist trap now. A bit sad really, since the original purpose of the islands was to maintain the integrity of their culture as the Quechua and Aymara people came to the lake. From there, it is another grueling 3 hours in the boat in Isla Amantani.

In Amantani, we stayed in an adobe house with a local family, complete with its own donkey (which went nuts everytime we had to go to the bathroom... even in the middle of the night) and a little herd of sheep. After arriving, we walked up and up to 4200m, and arrived at the temple of Pachatata, Father Earth. This temple can be entered only once a year by a man called Paco (seriously), when people offer 3 coca leaves for a good harvest. Another temple sits on the next hill to Pachamama (remember her?), and every year a race is run down the hill from the temples. If the Pachatata side wins, it means a bad harvest, but if the Pachamama side wins, the harest will be good for the whole island, so I guess you can imagine the race is a little rigged.

That evening, Alison and I were dressed to the nines in traditional island dress and made to walk through the plaza to a ¨dance.¨ A lot of our tour group didnt even show, and not many who did were also dressed up, so it was a little lame. In the end, our little hostess forced us to dance nearly the whole time. Luckily, it didnt last too long, and at least the musicians seemed to be having a good time.

Early the next morning, we left for the nearby island of Taquile. There, the men wear traditional dress and knit hats all day long. The hats are decorated with patterns that signify marital status. Seems to be lots of single men there. At any rate, we had too much free time, sat around the plaza, and had a lunch of eggs, which was the THIRD egg-based meal in a row. Then it was off for a 3 and a half hour ride home in a packed boat. At least we made friends with two British girls, Jenny and Kate. We ended up meeting up with them for dinner and drinks.

The next morning, we were supposed to head to Cusco, but I woke up with a fever and Alison with a tummy ache, so we postponed until the next morning. Instead we spent our day sleeping and watching whatever appeared on tv, like a movie with Zach from Saved by the Bell about a white wolf and a girl getting attacked by a bear and some white water rafting and ... well, you get the point. Terrible, yet mesmorizingly entertaining when you are ill.

And so we have finally made it to Cusco, the center of the Incan civilization and the embarkation point for the Inca Trail. We leave Monday for a four day trek to Machu Pichu, so keep your fingers crossed for good weather- naturally, we have chosen the beginning of rainy season to complete our walk. Typical.

Take care all! PATTY and ALISON

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