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Published: July 15th 2008
So I went on a 2 day trip onto the islands of Lake Titicaca. It was a bit of a weird trip, starting with the realisation that it was cheaper for me to go on this organised tour onto the islands, including meals, than it would have been to just stay put in Puno.
First stop was the Uros floating islands, made from reeds. People do genuinely live in this way and have done so for hundreds or thousands of years but as I suspected the ones we went to were the tourist ones. I doubt the genuine ones have cafes! Interesting still but I succumbed to guilt purchases from the floating market which I have so far managed to avoid. Simon, we are now the proud owners of some Peruvian embroidered artwork. Please start thinking where we can display it!
I had a look around one of the reed houses, home to 4 people and about half the size of my bedroom, although they did have a TV, powered by a solar panel! We then went for a ride on a reed boat which we were told was free but you could offer tips, once we were some way from shore the captain of the boat decided, in the style of Shakespearean water taxi drivers crossing the Thams, that there was a fixed fee for the ride which was pretty extorionate by Peruvian standards. I started losing sympathy at this point.
From Uros we took the 3 hour ride out to Amantani island where we were to spend the night with a family. Myself and Mijo, a Japanese girl from the trip, were placed with Florentina and Victoria in a room above their home. They provided us with meals and we met up with the tour group to go to the top of the island to watch the sunset. In the evening we were dressed up in native clothes, yes I do have photos, and taken to a bizarre and happily brief dance.
I didn't really enjoy staying with a family, I found it quite uncomfortable although I'm sure it was a valuable experience. The families seem to have tourists staying with them every night so it's a good earner for them at least, on an island where there are not many opportunities to make money.
We left in the morning for Taquile island where we just walked and had our tour guide tell us about the place. Both Taquile and Amantani are fairly large islands with 2000 to 4000 inhabitants but no roads, cars, farm machinery etc. Overall an interesting experience but one I'm kind of glad is over.
I'm now in Arequipa but I'll write about that separately...
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