Back in Puno

23 Feb

We´re back in Puno today after a day and a half exploring Lake Titicaca. We started out on Sunday by heading to the Uros Islands, which are man-made floating islands made out of reeds from the lake. The islands are small and only a few families live on each one. We ate some of the reeds, which kind of tasted like sugarcane without the sugar and then took a reed boat to another island.

We then moved on to Amantani, a natural island with pre-Incan ruins. Here we stayed with host indigenous families, and we got a chance to understand some of the culture. The hosts were incredibly friendly and welcoming, speaking both Quechua and Spanish very well. Eating their local food which consisted mostly of soup and vegetables, we also drank mate tea with coca leaves for the altitude.

After lunch we headed up to the top of the island, and because we were so high up, it was a struggle. It was difficult, but because we have been living high up in the Andes, we made it to the top first and beat everyone else by about 20 minutes. If I hadn´t been living in Cuenca I probably would have been back at the bottom with the older people. We couldn´t see the sun set because it was cloudy, but instead dodged little girls trying to hit our faces with chalk for Carnaval.

On the way back down we stopped for some incredible donuts with syrup and mate in a little stone shop by the ruins. Later after dinner we went to the community center dressed in traditional indigenous clothes and danced with the locals for a couple of hours. The community center was the only building with electricity, which was solar powered. On the walk back we were only guided through the extreme darkness by tiny flashlights and occasional bursts of lightning in the distance.

The island was once of the most peaceful places I´ve ever been to, and you couldn´t help but feel relaxed and want to stay longer. Even the use of outhouses couldn´t spoil the atmosphere. In the morning we had a quick breakfast and moved on to the island of Tequile. Just as we started a hike up to the center it started to rain, so by the time we got up there we were all soaked and wet.

We didn´t do much in Tequile except look at a market and hear some information about the locals, and then we got lunch. The sun came out and it was hot again, drying our clothes quickly. We got back on the boat and started the trip back to Puno. The trip was nice because we got to see some of the islands, even though traveling around the lake takes a very long time because the boats are so slow. We met some nice people and had some good laughs, but now it´s time to move on again.

I still feel like I´m rocking on a boat right now. The plan is to head back to Cuzco, catch our flight to Lima, and then on the 25th return to Guayaquil. From there we´ll probably spend the night and then I might head up to Portoviejo to visit my friend Ricardo. It´s still a mystery as to whether or not the government has paid us, and as a result it is straining our expenses on the trip. But it´s been a good time so far, and hopefully we can continue to make the most out of the time we have.

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