Published: October 9th 2011October 7th 2011
We arrived in Puno and got a cab to a hostel we found in the guide book. We dropped off our stuff and needed to go into town to get some presents for the family for our Home stay the following day but our second issue with keys happened. The woman said that the key for our room had been taken by the previous people who had stayed in there so she let us in with her key and propped the door open with the bin. When we left for town we obviously shut the door which locked it but as we left it got pretty cold so we decided to go back and try to get some jumpers...but the door was locked and the woman was nowhere to be found, we did however find her keys on the reception desk and tried to find the one for our room but without any luck and we decided that she must have left the key in the room for us and that we had now shut the door with the only key inside...oops. We were trying to formulate a plan as to how we could break into the room to get the
key but the woman reappeared with a freshly cut key for us!! Phew!
Finally we went into town and got some presents for our home stay family (Rice, Popcorn and Cooking oil for the adults and some colouring pens and notebooks for the kids) and also bought some presents for ourselves. I finally succumbed and bought an alpaca jumper which I thought was rather fetching and Ben got another alpaca jumper but his one was a very posh and not like the touristy ones. After our shopping spree we had a bit of dinner in a little bar and then went back to the hostel, just as a massive thunder storm started!
Next morning we got picked up at half 7 by a big tourist bus which we felt set the mood for the kind of trip this was going to be. The bus drove around a bit of picked up two American girls and four old Aussie women and we were driven down to the port and we got onto a little boat which quickly filled with about 20 more tourists. As the boat left the port th guide explained that we would all be together as
a big group for the next two days. First stop after about half an hour on the boat was the Uros Islands, which are floating islands made of reeds. The people from the island explained how they make their islands by laying many layers of reeds on top of some some roots which are bouyant and the islands are anchored into the floor of the lake to stop them floating away. All of the houses were made of reeds as well and they even eat the reeds! After the explainations we were able to take a ride on the peoples boat which they had named the "Mercedes Benz" and then got back onto our boat for a looong three hour ride to the Amantani Island where we would be having our home stay. When we arrived there were the women from each of the families waiting to greet us and the guide read out who was with which family, we got a lady called Francisca who was pretty old and very shy but boy was she fast! She lead us up the hill to her house at lightning speed and even jumped over a wall with much more grace than
I could ever muster!
She showed us to our room which was pretty nice and then just left us for a very long time. We were really hungry and were supposed to have lunch when we arrived so after about an hour an a half Ben decided to take matters into his own hands and went to ask her if we would be having lunch...which was very hard as we speak hardly any spanish and she spoke very little spanish (they speak Quechua on Amantani). Eventually she told us that our lunch was ready and we had Quinoa (kind of like couscous) soup and fried cheese with loads of different types of potatoes, considering how basic her kitchen was it was bloody good food! We hadnt seen anyone else in the house and we started to wonder if Fransisca lived there by herself or if she had a husband or children but didnt want to ask in case it was a touchy subject so decided to steer clear of the matter.
After lunch Fransisca took us up to a communal building where were going to meet the rest of the group for a hike up to the top of the hill to watch the sunset. We were supposed to be there at 4 but Fransisca decided to take us up there at 3:15 so we had a while to wait so we watched Fransisca spinning her thread from a bag of wool and then hung around for a bit. Gradually, some other people from our group started to arrive with their families and there was one reeeallly cute little girl who was playing hopscotch with one of the ladies and we wished that we had some kids in our family too! Lots of the women who arrived brought some weaving or knitting or spinning with them and it was amazing to see how they make the beautiful hats and other clothes which they wear.
We started our walk up the hill but it took a loot longer than expected as we had quite a few older people in our group so we had to keep stopping and waiting for them to catch up and Ben was getting antsy that we wouldnt make it to the top in time to see the sunset. We made it up to the top just in time for the clouds to cover up the sunset and looked out over the island for a bit before heading back down the path to where the guide had told us to meet. He had simply told us to "follow the stoneway to the Plaza" but it was pitch black by now and with no electricity on the island it made it nearly impossible to find where we were going. Eventually we made it to the plaza where Fransisca was supposed to be waiting for us, but she was nowhere to be seen. Everyone elses families came and found them but still no Fransisca...we decided that she probably didint actually own a clock which is why she was always late or really early. Eventually, just had we had started to believe that we were turely being abandoned by our new mother for the day Fransisca´s husband arrived (so she does have a husband!) with her following shortly behind. They walked us back to the house and again we were left to our own devices for a while. We were supposed to be going to some "disco" at 8 o´clock and when at 7:45 we still hadnt had dinner Ben went to find out what was going on again. We had our dinner shortly after which was vegetable soup followed by some spaghetti and then asked Fransisca what time we would be going to the fiesta. She told us 8 o´clock and asked what time it was now....8:30 we told her...she said we would leave whenever we were ready. We went back to our little room and after a few minutes Fransisca came in with some outfits for us to put on for the fiesta. Ben had to wear a poncho and I had to wear the traditional dress of the women of the island...we did look pretty stupid.- The we headed off to the disco!
When we arrived everyone was sitting around the sides of the hall and there was a little band playing some traditional music. Whenever the launched into a new song we all had to get up and do some kind of weird dancing which basically involved vigorous arm pulling of your dancing partner. Fransisca came over to Ben and me and asked us to dance with her and what followed was an extremely awkward two minutes of horrible dancing and Fransisca looked as if she hated every damned second. When she song finished we all went and sat back down and breathed a sign of relief that it was over. Then the next song came on and she came backfor MORE HORRIBLE DANCING. This time the song was even longer! At the end of the song Fransisca sat down and looked as if she was going to fall asleep and we thought we were probably safe from any more dancing for the night, however when the next song started a little girl came up to Ben and asked him to dance with her, haha, I got to sit and watch in amusement. After what seemed like about 2 hours (it had only been twenty minutes!) Fransisca actually had her eyes closed so we decided it would be best for all parties if we went home to bed, without a hint of hestitation Fransisca was up and outta there within a blink of an eye and we headed home.
Next morning we got up early and had breakfast of some tradional bread which they make on the island. During breakfast a younger girl of about 15 or 16 came into the kitchen which we assumed was Fransisca´s daughter (so she had kids as well!) and asked us to sign their "guestbook". Then as we were packing up to leave we saw a really cute little boy of about 2 or 3 years old running around, there were little kids!! We quickly gave him the books and pens before he ushered away into the house again...we wondered why we hadnt been allowed to meet the rest of the family as all the rest of the people in our group had met the entire family they were staying with...strange we thought. Shortly after we walked back down to the dock and said our goodbyes to Fransisca and left on the boat.
We had another hour long trip to another Island where we walked across for about an hour to get to a main plaza where we had some free time to mooch about and do some people watching. There was also a big building where they sold thousands knitted things like gloves and hats etc. and I bought some gloves. The guide later told us that because of the special process used to make the wool and the textiles on the island the products sold in the shop had recently been named as a world heritage site. After a while we walked up to a restaurant where the guide explained to us some other things about the traditions of the people on the island such as the meanings of their different hats (whether they are single or married) and we had some lunch and then walked back down to the boat and went on another long three hour ride back to Puno and the end of our trip.
When we got back to Puno we had to book our flights to go to the jungle so did a bit of faffing about on the internet and then had some dinner and went back to the hostel to collect our bags ready for our bus to Cuzco at 9:30pm. Just as we were leaving the hostel, the man who was looking after reception for the night came out to say goodbye to us but my bag got stuck in the door and as I tried to pull myself free the door slammed shut...the man didnt have the keys and was now locked out of the hostel....our third incident with keys at hostels!! I felt so bad about locking him out but there wasnt anything we could do to help him and we were already late for our bus so we had to leave him locked out and get into our waiting taxi, leaving him with a million apologies and wondering how he was going to get back in! We got to the bus station and picked up our tickets, the bus station was pretty busy and there was a big football match on (Peru vs Paraguay) and there were four big screens showing the match in the bus station, each of which had big crowds of people around. Everytime there was a near miss the whole bus station groaned and people shouted, it was really funny because there would be people queueing up for tickets or for the toilets and then they would hear shouts and would run over to a screen to see what was happening and would then go back and start queueing from the back of the queue again! We watched the football for about 15 minutes until half time and really wanted Peru to score because we wanted to see the whole bus terminal go absolutely crazy, unfortunately, apart from a couple of very near misses they didnt score and we had to get on our bus. We later found out that they had won