I was going to try to make Alex do this post since he finds Lake Titicaca to be so highly amusing, but he is a bit preoccupied with editing the massive amount of video footage we took during the trip so I guess I’ll leave him to that and deal with Puno myself!
After a few days in La Paz, we hopped on a bus to cross the border into Peru. We headed down out of La Paz toward Lake Titicaca. Kind of amazing to think that we were higher than what is considered to be the highest navigable lake in the world, but La Paz is 3600 meters so there’s not a lot of places to go except down. We crossed the Peruvian border without a hitch and arrived in Puno only to find out that Peru was not any warmer than Bolivia or Chile had been. We were still freezing! But we also knew that Alex’s dad was scheduled to arrive with some reinforcements (more wool socks, a fleece for Amanda, etc.)
Turns out Jesus had some flight troubles and was a day late to Puno, but we kept busy eating amazing Peruvian food and setting up tours for when he was scheduled to arrive. Obviously the big attraction in Puno is the lake it sits next to so we signed up for a boat trip that would take us to two different islands for the day.
The Uros islands were the first stop…and the most intriguing. The Uros are made entirely of reeds that grow in the lake. It turns out that an Inca king tried to enforce his rule on the Aymara people because they lived on his land. Rather than put up with his demands they moved out onto the lake so they wouldn’t have to listen to him anymore. They make their islands using the floating reeds and then also make their boats, their houses, their handicrafts…everything! In fact they even eat parts of the reeds and use other parts for medicinal purposes. And you thought Walmart had everything!
Once on the islands, the locals demonstrated to us how they build their islands and showed us around their houses. We took the opportunity to buy some souvenirs and then hopped in one of their boats for a ride amongst the islands. The Aymara do this fairly often since, I would assume for sanitary purposes, there is a bathroom island that they must row to when they need to go.
The fancy 2-level boat is less traditional than a smaller one, but I’m pretty sure the locals like building them to impress the tourists. They refer to them as the “mercedes”
After we left the Uros we headed further out into the lake to Isla Tequile. We got a brief history of the indigenous people who live on this island and then had a chance to meet them in the town square. On Tequile, all the men do the knitting…and they are really good at it! In fact, if a man wants to get married he must knit a hat for his future father in law. His future father in law will fill the hat with water and if the hat leaks it’s a sign that he’s not ready to get married yet. The girl’s father will send him home to knit another hat and tell him to come back when he’s gotten it right! All the men on the islands wear the hats that they have made, but for some ridiculous reason I did not actually take a picture of one. Instead I have lots of pictures of the beautiful scenery on Isla Tequile
We had lunch on Tequile and then felt the winds start to pick up. Our guide mentioned that the day before many tourists had to stay overnight on Tequile because the waves were too big to get back to the mainland. This made us incredibly nervous since we had a bus to catch and plans to be in Cusco by morning. We rushed back to the boat after lunch and kept our fingers crossed that we wouldn’t have to turn back to the island. The rest of the journey was a bit hazy for me since I also popped some dramamine before getting back in the boat and pretty much passed out for the 2.5 hour return trip. Alex on the other hand was wide awake and told me later that he was pretty positive we were going to capsize. The boat rocked every which way, several passengers were throwing up and one of the windows on the boat cracked due to the pressure created with the rocking waves. Needless to say, he was pretty happy to make it back safe and sound.
You are slowly starting to hear about all our most traumatizing transportation from the trip so I will try to put up a thorough list of them all in the near future!