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Published: July 14th 2006
Other tourists enjoy a cruise on the reed boats (our's was not this impressive and actually there was quite a high risk of capsizing)
Just a quick thank you for all your messages of congratulations. I think it's slowly sinking in for Alex and we'll both be glad when we get to New Zealand and we can get her ring re-sized as it is slightly too large at the moment.
By popular demand we've started doing some poses for your amusement, although Alex seems to be lacking in insperation. If anyone has any other tasks that they would like us to try and perform while we're out here then stick them in a comment and we'll try and oblige (nothing dirty though as my Mum reads this!).
Another early morning as we were on the move from Cusco, south to the city of Puno on Lake Titikaka. We arrived at the bus station before 7am as that was the time we had been told but our bus wasn't leaving until 8am. We also had a random bloke try and swap our tickets for another company's. We declined his offer and made our way out to where our bus should have been. A couple of minutes later he was back with us. It turns out that our company wasn't running the
service and we had to go with another company, called Pony for some reason, which didn't seem so nice and wasn't direct. Why can't these things be easy for once? Anyway, with one slight stoppage for a breakdown, numerous stops for no good reason and a million honks on the horn (this seems to be done to let anyone in a five mile radius know that you're on the road and have no intention of giving way), we arrived in Puno. Alex did make the observation during the trip that women seemed to be doing most of the work as we hadn't seen one man in a field plying a trade. The reason for this we have no idea unless they were off playing football or something more sensible than working.
Seeing as Puno is really a rubbish little place we made the sensible option of checking out the only attraction in the area which is Lake Titikaka. We had managed to book a trip the previous night and got yet another early start to grab some breakfast and snacks for the day ahead before being picked up just before 7am. A quick dash around the
Locals at Taquile
Many people in Peru actually wear the traditional cultural outfits, although our suspicion in this case was that it was mainly for the tourists. Both men and women had to wear distinct colour combinations to indicate their marital status eg. red and blue hats for married men.
city in the minibus to pick up a few more bleary eyed tourists and we headed down to the port to climb aboard our boat for the day. Seeing as the lake is massive, most of the time was spent pottering about between our two destinations. This suited Alex and myself fine as we needed a breather after the last few days trekking. The first stop of the day was a group of islands on the lake which are basically floating reeds. The people were afraid of the Incas and built massive rafts of reeds which are now harboured not far from Puno. I think they're only there for a tourist attraction now but they weren't bad to look around for an hour or so which included a trip in a boat made entirely of reeds to one of the other islands.
The second stop of the day was at a proper island in the main part of the lake. Here we got to have a bit of a stroll up to the main square of the town. The island is renowned for having some of the best knitters in the world (apparently), and not all of them were
women. We saw several men and boys clicking their needles and we felt compelled to buy some decorative knitwear for a few pounds to remember the island by. We also had lunch on the island, Alex trying the Kingfish caught locally (although originally introduced to the lake from Argentina) and I kept it simple with an omlette. Both meals came with chips and rice which for some reason the locals like to serve at a luke warm temperature at best.
We returned to port around 5pm which was good as I was bored of the long cruises and we killed the evening having food and a couple of beers.
12 July (Alex writing)
Up again at 6am for our bus to La Paz, which took up most of the day, stopping for a while at the small shrine town of Copacabana (after which the beach in Rio is named). It also involved a lake crossing on separate boats and yet another two breakdowns! There was no discernable difference in terms of landscape between Peru and Bolivia, except for the fact that every wall/billboard/house in Bolivia isn´t painted with ALAN PERU or OLLYANTA PRESIDENTE (in relation to Peru´s
Crossing Lake Titikaka
We were separated from our bus and luggage, both of us on very ramshackle boats. We attracted a few stares in the boat as we discussed what we would lose if the bus sank (come on - we´ve had quite a few mares with our luggage).
The arrival into La Paz gave a good view over the entire city. It is the world´s highest capital (only de facto, technically the capital is Sucre) and is crammed into a valley overlooked by the snow-capped peak of Mount Illimani, which we were a bit disappointed not to be able to see again due to high-rise obstruction. We booked into our hostel, which is like a run-down colonial mansion and headed out for a look around the city.
The most definitive features of La Paz are the bustling street markets which seem to cover every square metre of spare pavement, and the excessive traffic levels. There is so much pollution here! Many of the stalls sell the local dish ´salteña´ which is basically a Bolivian cornish pasty, with which Simon has developed somewhat of an obsession. Thankfully they´re only about 10p.
Today was taken pretty slowly as I was again feeling ill and fed up! Nevertheless we had a look around the famous Witches Market and around the main squares of La Paz. There are no particular sights as such to visit here so it´s more a case of soaking up
Mercado de Hechiceria
At the Witches Market you can buy a load more tourist crap, but also, should you so wish, some dried llama foetuses to protect your home from evil spirits.
the atmosphere and trying to safely negotiate the roads. We found a nice gringo cafe which did all-day breakfasts and ended up eating there twice so I could fill up on museli and toast.
After a quiet evening back in the dimly lit hostel, we were treated to a local concert (unsure of location but it was bloody loud) that went on until nearly 3am.
Both of us feeling perky despite a rough night´s sleep, we checked out and went back to our favourite cafe for breakfast. Next we visited the museum quarter of town, where there are plenty of small museums located in a well-preserved colonial street.
We are killing the rest of the day mincing about until our bus for Sucre leaves at 6.30pm. It´s 14 hours! Why do we keep doing this?
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