Written by Emily
An unusual and unapreciated cacophony of cockerills crowing, sheep baa-ing, villagers crashing around and dogs barking awoke Rach and I from our slumber this morning, and shivering as we clambered out of the healthy layers of handmade blankets, we mutually wondered if there had been any kind of improvement on the recently discovered sunburn situation. Unsurprisingly, there hadn't, and our noses, cheeks and foreheads were still booming out at us in the mirror in all their scarlet splendour. Deciding to simply make the best of a bad situation, we pulled on several more items of clothing to protect against the refreshing temperature and once more set about waiting for father Fausto to tell us what to do with ourselves.
Presently, we were alerted to breakfast time by a cheery shout from Fausto and blearily staggered down the wooden steps from our room into the kitchen. Here we found Magdelena, Sonia, Francesca and a pile of hearty pancakes on the table, complete with jam and sugar for the goodness. The first pile was of course munched down in a shamefully short space of time, and after confirming with Sonia that they were intensely tasty, we were presented with another one each. Once these were consumed, more were provided. This continued for such a long period of time that we were left wondering if the pancake stream would ever relent, and our lives were now destined to be this way for ever more. Eventually, Magdelena ran out of steam and/or ingredients and we were freed from the massive batter-marathon that would have left mere mortals by the wayside. Lucky Rach and I are such seasoned eaters really.
As soon as we had dragged our now much heavier selves back up to our room to pack, it was time to say an emotional farewell to our Peru families forever. This done, we whacked on our woolly hats and followed Francesca all the way back down the island again to cruise back to Puno on the jolly seacraft. The three hour boat ride passed in a sleepy haze, with everyone recovering from the intensity of the day before. After a sweet while, our trusty boat stopped to drop us off for a casual mosey around the Uros Reed islands, which as the name heavily hints, are a group of floating islands made from reeds. This we could feel more than we may have liked as we stepped onto one of them and immediately rocked slightly due to the hearty bouancy.
One we had all wobbled on, we were seated for a delightful translated chat (courtesy of Henry) with a Uros local named Frederico about his life on the reed islands. After this, we were set free to wander around as we so wished. No sooner had we left the protection of the group than Rach and I were firmly led by a Uros woman into her casual home, and peered around at the reedy extravaganza we were met with. We took in the expected embroidered wall-hangings, straw bed, discarded bowls and woolly hats, but were suddenly taken aback by the presence of a small television, just hanging out in the corner as if it owned the place. We did not have long to marvel at the force of 21st century technology however, as for the second time in 24 hours, Peruvian embroidered blouses, skirts and hats were being thrown over our usual attire for fun photos and Trevor's camera was being fired in all directions.
A little while later and we had managed to de-robe ourselves of Peruvian get-up, and were steaming around the lake once more, this time in a traditional reed boat. Many more pictures down the line and it was high time for the Peru crew to head back to whence they came (the Puno hotel). Shockingly, Ruben revealed to us on our triumphant arrival back, that he had
no specific activities planned for us that afternoon and left us wholly to our own devices. Whilst most other people decided to head to the Cocoa museum and soak up some culture, Rach and I felt we should do what we always do best and hit the internet.
After a few hefty hours skanking around on facebook, we headed back to our room, where I decided to make the most of the spare time and did a bit of skanky, backpacker, clothes sink washing. Knowing even as I did so that there was no chance of it drying in the one night we were staying in Puno, I hung my stuff over the shower rail and pressed on with my life.
This involved getting ready for a nice slap-up meal with eveyone and yet another, you got it, Ruben surprise. It turned out that this would be the historic meal whereby many of the group got well into the tourist way and sampled some Peruvian classic dishes. Rach decided to play it relatively safe and go for an obscure 'alpaca pizza', Lisa, Danielle and a few others went to town with alpaca steaks, brave Trev ordered the obvious, but squeal-inducing cuy (guinea pig) which was served complete with head in a ferocious biting position, adding a macabre tone to the meal as a whole, and even I in my new-found vegetarianism went down the cultural route and ordered traditional flan for pud puds. Rach and I were in mega luck this particular night also, as Ruben had gone too far with his ordering, leaving a nice pile of chips for us to consume in our usual shameless fashion.
The eagerly-awaited Ruben surprise turned out to be some intense dinner entertainment in the form of traditional dancers. After the first dance and accompanying panpipe tunes, the dancers skipped merrily off to raptuous applause, only to return in completely different costumes for more just seconds later. This constancy progressed in much the same way as the pancakes that morn, the costumes becoming more and more questionable as the night wore on. Eventually however, the dancers had finally danced themselves out, been heartily tipped by everyone in th restaurant, and the Peru crew were strollin' back to the hotel for a good night's sleep to prepare for the seven hour coach to Cusco the next day.
As usual in these high altitude towns that we had become almost used to hanging around in, Rach and I awoke the next morning breathing heavily due to the usual lack of our good friend oxygen. Breakfast in this hotel rated fairly highly in our prestigious top ten breakfast count-down, mainly due to the marginal dryness of the bread and sweetness of the jam. It was during breakfast that we found ourselves having this frustrating conversation with Lisa:
Lisa: 'I was very proud of my resourcefulness yesterday. I washed some stuff in the sink and then I could see it wasn't going to dry so I thought maybe I could use a hairdryer but we don't have them in our rooms.'
Me: 'So how did you dry your stuff? Or is it still wet 'cause I did the same thing and mine is still bloody soaking'.
Lisa: 'Well, I remembered we have space-heaters in the rooms don't we, so I just angled that up at my clothes and they were dry within an hour!'