We´re in La Paz as I write this, with a slight hangover after going out with fellow couchsurfers and a few others. Lawrence will fill you in on the details of what we´ve been up to in Bolivia but now I will finish off our first Peru bit…
After Machu Picchu we spent the day in Agua Calientes, named after the hot springs which I obviously spent some time in. Due to the train strike Intrepid got us a hotel for the night, and we felt quite spoilt, especially after our 4th round of breakfast. The next day we got back to Cusco via a combination of train and bus and then spent the day messing about in an internet café and eating cheap food. About one hour before we were due to get the night bus to Puno I got sick, but we decided I might as well be sick on a bus than waste a day being sick here. Needless to say it was an awful journey (I´m sure it was nearly as bad for all the other passengers too) and Lawrence was now succumbing to the bug too. We arrived at 5am, and made it to our hostel where we stayed in bed for 2 days (and visited the toilet a lot). When we finally made it out we found a very ‘real’ town, full of street markets and looking a bit shabby in places. Very different to touristed Cusco, and we liked it.
The reason we were here was to see Lake Titicaca, so we got a boat to Isla Taquile, and visited the Islas Flotantes on the way. The floating islands are made from reeds, and are actually anchored, but definitely floating. They´re really soft underfoot. The Uros people who live there also make boats from these reeds (as well as their houses) and we had an extortionate ride on one of these.
After a few more hours on the boat we arrived at Taquile and had a breathless walk up 500 steps, and found someone who would take us in for the night. Maria was lovely, and our adobe hut was cosy and sweet. It had no water or electricity but a stunning view and we had great home-cooked traditional meals. Plus we got to taste Peruvian/Taquilian life. We stayed for two nights and spent our time walking round the island or relaxing by our house. Eva, the three year old girl there, took a shine to Lawrence and had him playing marbles and fixing her aeroplane made from some scrap polystyrene. The Inca ruins and lookout from the top of the island were amazing – a 360˚ view of the brilliant blue lake, with the snow-capped mountains of Peru and Bolivia in the distance. The island fills up with tour groups from between 11 and 2, but at other times it is a different world. The pace of life is so different. Men sit delicately knitting their hats whilst women weave elaborate waistbands for their husbands. There are no cars or vehicles on the entire island. You see women spinning wool as they walk about, and a few people farming, making mud bricks or chipping rock. We were sad to leave but also looking forward to a wash and hot shower.
After another night in Puno we got the bus to La Paz, Bolivia and crossed the border with no problems, apart from the fact that I had a relapse or another bug so I wasn´t feeling too hot. But by the time we arrived in La Paz I was on the up, and immediately we could tell we were going to like it.