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Published: March 15th 2016
Our guide picked us up near the harbour and took us a short journey around the lake to the most obscure little jetty I've ever seen; we drive over a very bumpy set of railway tracks and then down a rough concrete ramp. A small open boat was waiting for us and we gingerly clambered aboard. Our skipper pushed off into the reeds with his paddle and we soon emerged into a 12 foot channel that went this way and that way, like water roads. Ed and I knelt in the front and leant on the prow, as the spray blasted us, it really was a joint 'Yeehaa' moment. We looked behind us and Cas and Hat had huge beaming smiles.
The reeds go on for as far as the eye can see. Despite being at 12,500ft, it's amazing to think that you could take a boat from the Pacific Ocean and navigate all the way up river to this lake.
There are 90 Uros Islands and it looks like each one is about the size of a rounders field and has one or two families living on each. The wicker craft that about was simply amazing, almost as if
nothing couldn't be fashioned from the reeds surrounding them. They seem to select a patch, lay thick layers of reed bundles and then build there wicker houses on top.
We arrived at our island for the next 20 hours or so. Elsa, greeted us in her bright Peruvian skirt and waistcoat and managed to ask us if we'd like lunch. We took her up on the offer as we didn't know if the kids would eat what was on offer for dinner ie two options are better than one. We needn't have worried, it was proper home cooking. The kids had chicken and veg and we had trout and veg, everyone was pleased and Ed's Heinz tomato sauce made an outing.
It was strange walking around as the ground felt 'spongey', but not in an unstable way. The kids played in a dodgy looking lookout tower and Cas and I read our kindles in the shade.
Then there was The Chicken. At first, we didn't know it was a chicken as it was a black bird with a flat red strip running over it's beak. Ed reached out to stroke it and got a peck which gave him a right
shock. When I put my walking boot up on the railing he went wild and flew about it. This was when I realised he was a cockerel guarding his territory. A few minute latter I accidentally knocked Cas' foot and she jumped for Britain! We laughed a lot and she says that I'm jumpy when we watch telly!
After a brief siesta, we were taken out on a reed boat by Elsa's husband. He taught Ed and Hat how to cut reeds using a long pole and a knife strapped to the end, we ate some of the reed roots which tasted mildly of bananas. Finally, he had the pair of them help him to string out his fishing net which he'd collect the next day.
Back to our island, we unpacked our daysacks in our reed hut, having left our big ones in the hotel back in Puno. The hut had no windows, just some small solar powered strip lights. We were amazed at the blankets; each bed had 4-5 extraordinarily heavy and decorative blankets. We'd been told that the nights out in the lake can get really cold. That night the weight of those blankets reminded me of
being a kid again in Hatton Gardens. I gave Hat a super-tuck-in and she woke up in the night crying for help as she was being squashed by the blankets!
We sat out as the sunset, around a small fire that Elsa had set in a clay cooking oven. Fire...on a bed of dried reeds..and they didn't bat an eyelid, just poured the odd cup or two of water on the reeds nearest the hearth. We chatted to a Brazilian couple and had a really good insight into how some of the Brazilians feel about the Olympics coming in the Summer
It is an utterly peaceful place, not a sound of modern life around and it is the best example we've ever experienced of the much simpler way of life that we our ancestors used to lead.
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