17th September 2007
Wow, on to our last country now! Ok so we got up and checked out of the Formule 1 Hotel and got a taxi to the airport at about 11.30am. We found out that our first flight, Rio - Santiago also had a stop over in Sao Paulo. So that was a bit annoying. Rio to Sao Paulo took 45 mins then Sao Paulo to Santiago took about 3hrs and 45mins. Then we had to wait in Santiago for about an hour before getting our connecting flight to Lima which took about 3hrs 15mins. So we arrived in Lima around midnight local time after setting our watches back 2 hours. Got in a taxi and taken to Miraflores House our newest accomodation. The taxi driver drove very eratically! I was knackered by the time we got there from all the days travelling but i didnt get much sleep at all in our bunk beds, it was very noisy, people were arriving all through the night.
18th September 2007
We woke up and had a piece of bread for breakfast, then sat down with a girl who works at the hostel and basically planned our week in Peru with her. We had to cut out seeing the Nazcar lines as we wouldn`t be able to fit it all in such a short space of time. So instead, we decided to get a 16hr bus journey down to Arequipa followed by a 5hr bus journey to Puno. See Lake Titicaca, the floating island of Uros, and stay on another island with a Peruvian family. Then get a bus up to Cuzco, see Macchu Piccu and hopefully Aguas Calientes, but we`ll see. Even all that is a squeeze. So we headed down to American Express to change our travellers cheques to Peruvian Soles, only that was a right palava as they wouldn`t exchange GBP to Soles, so we had to change them to American Dollars and then to Soles, but we lost out as they only had 50 US Dollar notes and I only had pounds in 20 denominations so think we lost out about a fiver. Then they wouldn`t change them to Soles!! So we had to go to a bank to get them changed. GGGGRRRR what a faff!! Got a few bits and bobs from the supermarket including another hair dye! So will hopefully be able to change my ginge mop! Then we went and had lunch in TGI Fridays (how traditionally Peruvian!). Everyone says Lima is a grey place but from what ive seen (which is very little) its not how i expected it at all. Its very brightly lit up with food places, McDonalds, Starbucks, and loads of casinos everywhere you look. I thought it would be a very poor city with shoddily built buildings but its not at all. So we got on our long bus journey at 6pm and arrived into Arequipa bus station around 9am (19th). Got another bus journey to Puno leaving at 12.30pm so waited in the station for 3 hours!
So we arrived into Puno around 5pm yesterday. Got our free transfer to our hostel and spent the rest of the evening just in our room. Jenny attempted to dye my hair yet again, but the ginger just wouldnt budge! Grrrr. We also sat down with Lino (the hostels travel agent) and booked our trip to the floating islands, bus to Cuzco, Macchu Piccu and our hostels. Then to bed early for an early start in the morning.
20th September 2007
So we got up and had breakfast and picked up by Lino our tour guide at 7.45am. He drove us to the boat port at Lake Titicaca where we boarded. Our group had about 22 people in it. Us, Jo an Irish girl who we got on well with, a group of 8 freaky American spiritualists, 2 Brazilian couples, 1 couple from Uruguay, 1 couple from Czech Republic, 1 girl from Korea, an Italian woman and another dude. It took 30mins to reach Uros (the floating island) The islands are made using many layers of the buoyant totora reeds that grow in the shallows of Lake Titicaca. One Peruvian man showed us how they made more land. We had a look about the crafts that the locals made for tourists, and Jen bought a handmade cushion cover. We also went on a tightly bundled reed boat that the locals had made which cost 5 soles each (80p) After that we got back on out tour boat and headed to Isla Amantani where we were linked up with Peruvian families, where we would stay the night at their house, eat traditional Peruvian food and just have an insight into their lives and how they live. Our family was Matilda and her husband, and Matilda`s father Ermandahildo. Jo came and stayed with us as she was on her own so we were put in a room with 3 beds. It was very cold as the island has no electricity. It had a stone concrete floor and tarpaulin for ceiling! We had lunch which was some kind of soup with bread and a plate of cheese, tomato and potatoes! None of us ate all of it and Jo had a jippy tummy from the altitude. After lunch we walked 3k up to the highest point on the island. It was very hard. I felt my chest tightening and it was very hard to breathe so everyone took it very slowly. We reached the top eventually and the sky was extremely clear, considering the altitude. The point we walked to was 4,130m above sea level (thats almost as high as we did our sky dive!!) The lake is 3820m above sea level. 60% of it belongs to Peru and 40% to Bolivia. After the walk we headed back to Matildas house for dinner which consisted of yet more soup (different type) and bread, rice, and some kind of omelette. Luckily no guinea pig! It was quite nice considering, although went cold very quickly but that was expected seeing as her stove was just rocks with a flame! Also with each meal she gave us a hot drink called Munya, which is a herbal tea made with mint leaves and water, an is supposed to cure a dodgy tummy. it was quite nice but id still opt for an English brew over it! On the way back from the walk we bought 1kg of rice 1kg of sugar and 2 candles for Matildas family as a thankyou for having us stay. After tea around 7.30pm Matilda came into our room with traditional Peruvian clothes for us to wear and head down to the Plaza for a fiesta at 8pm. We were given underskirts, skirts (very puffy!) a waist sash, a blouse and a head dress. All our group met up in the plaza and there was a band of 3 Peruvian men on drums and Peruvian wood pipes. Everyone was dancing it was brilliant! But very knackering. That finished about 9.30pm and we headed back to our room. We had to take a torch to the outside (baños) toilet which was a hole in the floor (we`re used to them now!) We had to get ready for bed by candlelight obviously as there is no electricity. And we were told breakfast would be at 6.40am the next morning.
21st September 2007
Got up and had breakfast of bread and a pancake. Last night wasnt the greatest sleep id had, the pillow was rock hard and the cockrels started at 4am! but hey iv had worse. After that we headed down to the port for 8am, where we left our families, and got back on our boat and headed to Isla Taquile. We received necklaces made from flowers from Matilda and a few others did too. I think its their way of saying thank you and good luck. Matilda and her family spoke Quechua and Spanish and even though our spanish is very poor, we managed communication. She was a lovely lady, very smily and giggly. Anyway it took 1 hour to get to Isla Taquile, which is 1km long and around 6/7km wide. We walked up to the islands main plaza which was steep in some parts but not half as hard as yesterday. At the plaza there were a few shops selling handicrafts and food snacks. There was a really weird rainbow like huge circle that encircled right the way around the sun, i have never seen anything like it in my life! Then we walked a bit further 20mins or so and stopped to have lunch. me and jenny got a trout dish and an omelette dish and shared the two. We also got a hot drink included for 12 soles. Then we headed back down the other side of the island down 500+ steps and back on the boat for a 3hr journey back to Puno. Then having to wait at the hoste til 7.40pm for our 8hr bus journey to Cuzco!