Puno and Lake Titicaca by Baz
We arrived in Puno on the shore of Lake Titicaca on Monday and were delighted with our accommodation. A well run and comfortable hostel which was recommended by our bible - The South American Explorer.
After getting a feel for the town we took a walk along the harbor and found a ship called the Yavari. The boat was commissioned by the Peruvian government as a gunship in 1861 and was made in England and shipped to Arica before being transported piece by piece to Lake Titicaca by donkey. It took 6 years to transport the vessel and that must have been one tired donkey when it was finally done.
Seonaid and I were given a free tour of the vessel which is currently being restored and I was amazed that so much of the original features remain. The captains table and chair, the bell, compass and main wheel are all original and have been restored to splendid condition. It was a real treat to look around the ship.
On the Wednesday we took a tour to The Floating Islands and to a natural Island called Taquile. We had read that the floating Islands were a bit of a show for the tourists beforehand but the whole experience was interesting, if a little contrived. The Islands are home to the Uros people who have lived there for hundreds of years. They create their own habitat on the lake with a floating base of cork which is built upon with layers of reeds on top of which they build their homes (also of reeds). The surface of the island is spongy and is like walking on a bed. They live mostly off fish which they trade with the people on the mainland once a week and I dare say they make a right bit off the tourists who visit the Island and get fleeced for donations left right and centre. The experience started to lose its charm for me when we took a trip on a Uros boat and the local women gathered round to sing us a song in their native tongue, then a song in English (twinkle twinkle), then they left us by saying in unison "Hasta lavista, BABY" - Oh Dear!!!
We went on in our boat for another 2.5 hours to Taquile, which is a beautiful Island. There we walked up to the main square and had a walk around before enjoying a lovely meal of fresh wild trout from the lake. It was delicious. We had been told that there were no police on the Island and the locals live largely according to the Inca law of yesteryear. I hoped we might catch a human sacrifice, but was disappointed. We walked down the other side of the Island before heading home.
Overall, a nice day out. We head to Bolivia tomorrow morning.