Stupidity Can Be Serendipitous. Or something like that.


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January 17th 2007
Published: January 17th 2007
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I left Loki Hostel in Cusco, where I've been living for the last month, on 15 January. I was very excited to be on the move again - and out of practice.
It was one of those days when nothing goes right... I realized as the bus began boarding that I had left my fleece in the hostel... que tristeza, that thing is really warm! But ah well, I thought, I shall sacrifice it to the travel gods, and buy something woolen with a nice llama design. To match my llama hat.
My bus was so late to Puno, the main border town with Bolivia, on Lake Titicaca (which, I learned, is pronounced Titijaja, people, so stop that smirking), that I couldn't get the connecting bus to the town I wanted to go directly to (Copacabana in Bolivia), because the border was closed. But ah well, an opportunity to see Puno! It's really not so bad.
Then that night I looked in my wallet - only to realize my ATM card was missing, and the only reasonable explanation was that it was in the machine in the bank I'd visited that morning... back in Cusco.
Drat and Damnation.
Long story short, I'm now back in Loki for the day, preparing for my second overnight bus ride in a row, back to the city I just came from... But!
Since I was stuck in Puno for the day, I went to see the Uros Islands on the lake.
These are islands constructed totally of reeds. They are one of only two sets of artificial islands in the world (the other being in Thailand).
When the Spanish got to this region, the people took to living on their boats, hiding in the reeds... then they expanded, and built these islands with houses and all. Because they float in the midst of these reed forests, you can't see them from the shore... the Spanish had no idea they were there for years!
The first tourists didn't start coming until 1975, and to my eyes the islanders have set up and nice practice, which they use to supplement their main income gained from fishing.
The islands are very small, each housing anywhere from 5 - 15 families (they used to house only 1 or 2 each, but they've combined for business purposes - makes it easier to accept tourists!). They are arranged in a large circle. They have their own elementary school, and one of the islands has a "hotel" (small group of huts) and cafe. '
Everything is made from these reeds. The islands themselves (the reeds must be changed every two months), the boats (which have animal heads on the sterns... very cool), the houses, the handicrafts. They also eat them, apparently they aid in digestion.
I had been planning on skipping this visit, because I had heard them described as "floating souvenier stands" and I thought it would upset me, participating in this evil cultural tourism with these isolated folk who have now been so corrupted by our consumerist ways... well, turns out they ain't so isolated, the islands are about 15 minutes offshore of Puno, a very large city. And the people certainly seem to have a say in their tourism, they're running the lectures, etc.
So the point is I'm almost glad I forgot my card. Almost.
I'm sorry this entry is so short and scattered. Off the the bus!


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17th January 2007

Wow
And how, may I ask, did you post this in the city of reeds? Were the computers made of reeds, too? Huh?! This one is so weird and pretty.
10th February 2007

Fantastic!
I was thrilled to be able to see and read all about your fabulous experiences! I loved your letter and can't wait to hear more from you. Take care! Love, Beth
10th February 2007

P.S.
Your photographs are absolutely awesome!

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