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Published: August 6th 2013
Hola hola! So after an overnight bus journey from Cusco, we arrived in Puno in the early hours of the day. We nearly got onto the wrong bus as we were trying to pick a bus that most appealed to us! However, in the end we were directed to the right one. To be honest, the bus ride was pretty comfortable with the seats reclining to almost 180 degrees and the heating on.
We met our tour guide, Moses, and the rest of our group, and got onto a boat to the Uros islands on Lake Titicaca. Moses was quite the comical tour guide with lots of random facts and figures! Eg lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, meaning the highest lake a boat can sail on. It's 3400m above sea level, compared to London which is only 24m above sea level and where Saadia lives which is approx 300m. Funnily enough Saadia suffered from altitude sickness more than me!
The Uros islands are floating islands made from totora, which are reeds that grow abundantly in the lake. The inhabitants have built huts and boats from this. We had the opportunity to ride on one of these boats, for 10 sol which helps towards there living costs. The tortura are also edible and the inhabitants have to remember to replenish the layers of the tortura on the island from the top as the bottom layer tends to rot.
Next, we went to Amantani island where we met Sebastian and Antonio, the indigenous family we would be spending the weekend with. They were a very hospitable and humble family. The accommodation was located up steep hills and was very basic. We were given quinoa soup consisting of lentils and potatoes for lunch, dinner and breakfast! Saadia and I are on a break from soup for a while after this! Using the toilet was quite an interesting experience - the toilet had no toilet seat and the flush consisted of pouring a bucket down the toilet hole!
The view from our room was totally serene. I walked up to about 4000m above sea level to witness the beautiful sunset, although, Saadia opted out of this but still managed to catch just as beautiful view at a lower level. In the evening, we dressed up in the local Peruvian clothes and attended a local party where Antonio showed us how to dance in 'the correct way!' Saadia and I were loving the outfits!
The next day we sailed to Taquile island, approximately 1hr boat ride. Just as we thought no more hills and walking we were faced with yet another steep island. For those who love walking/hiking, this would be your thing. A 30min hike took us to the main square where the locals entertained us with dances and more stalls selling exactly the same thing - hats, scarves, gloves, and bracelets. Traditionally on the island, the men knit and not the women. Here are some facts for you - the men wear tightly woven woollen hats that resemble floppy night caps which they knit themselves. They wear red hats if they are married and red-and-white hats if they are single. The women collect their hair from a young age and use this together with sheepskin to weave the underside of colourful waistbands which are then presented to their husbands.
We walked to a restaurant where lunch was provided, with phenomenal views of the lake. It was a comfortable temperature to dine in, however generally the sun was very strong but there was a consitent cool breeze from the lake. After lunch, we made our way back to Puno where we spent a few hours exploring the city before we got the overnight bus back to Cusco.
Overall, the overnight stay with the indigenous family, together with the breath-taking views of the lake from the islands was a once in a lifetime experience!
Buenos noches, A and S
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