22:00 - The tiny electric radiator didn't exactly overheat the room last night, so using the bathroom this morning felt a little chilly. Given the seasonal temperatures I find not having central heating in the rooms is a little hopeful... What was my shoulder pain that then moved onto the neck has come back with a vengeance, but only on the right hand side. There's a good private clinic in Cusco and if it still hurts tomorrow when we arrive I'll get it looked at again. For today, I walked around with my Inter Milan scarf all day to keep it at least warm.
This morning we went off to visit the Uros floating Islands. There's a plant that grows in the Titicaca lake that has floating roots and grows in bunches. Many many centuries ago, a population decided to build floating island by cladding together clamps of this plant. It then gets layered with the green part of it (which soon becomes yellowish and crispy) over and over until the whole thing floats above water. They then live on the islands, build houses, chapels, schools etc. each island is generally lived on by one or more families and at times gets split if the people on it don't want to live on the same 'platform'. This days they live wholly off of tourism. They let you visit their homes, show you how they live and in exchange you buy some of their craft. They prefer to continue living here despite infant mirtality rate of 30% due to poor hygenic conditions. Due to not having any skills if they were to work for example in Puno, the only work they would get is as servants and they would make around 60 dollars a month. So for them the floating islands are a better way of life and thanks to the government supplying solar panels, these days they also have electricity and some of them have enough of it to run black and white televisions as well as lighting. Whilst visiting, Jolanda was 'attacked' by a kitten. The poor thing in reality was stepped on by her and instinctively bit her on the ankle. This meant that when we got back to shore, Sally took her to hospital to see if they'd give her a tetanus and a rabies shot. The rest of us went for lunch round the corner for the hotel as we had a pickup at 2pm to go and see the Sillustani funeral towers. When we met downstairs for the pickup we found Jolanda and Sally who recounted their hospital experience. Basically, they were sent off with just antibiotics, and advice to keep the cat under control to see if he got sick or died. Imagine how easy this is considering it lives with an indigenous family on a floating island! The chap who was our guide for the day, Jorge, said he had the number to call the family and would check in 10 days time... Not sure that will actually happen. However, this did mean that both Sally and Jolanda could come with us to Sillustani. The drive is lovely (about 40 minutes from Puno) scenery wise. We then got a lot of info from Jorge about the towers, the fact that when the man died, his wife and youngest child were also buried around the tower with him (obviously they had to be killed to do that), and about the different populations that went through the area and the difference in the type of towers that were built. Other than the poor people who were purposefully killed to keep company to the main man, there were no remains. When the Spanish came by, they took everything that had any value, and often the man would be buried woth gold and silver. The view from the top of the hillside was towards a lake called Umayo was pretty amazing too and in fairness probably what I liked best. The towers where either in a state of disrepair or recently rebuilt, and there were no real artefacts to talk of (as they had been stolen)! On the way back we stopped at a peruvian farm and we were shown around the place, showed how they cooked etc. we got back to the hotel at around 6pm, and I went off to get some food for tomorrows trip. We'll be taking a bus to Cusco (an 8 hour drive) and the bus doesn't make any stops in between. It'll be a long day...in preparation I doubled my painkilling portion before going to bed. Hopefully, the neck cushion will help. But enough about wingeing... Onwards and upwards (downwards in altitude actually finally!).