The blog is not finished! But after the Theft (yes, capital letters), the want/need to update the blog took second fiddle to dealing with the Theft and just finishing the trip sans computer. Since being home, it's been hard to get that motivation to complete it. But I will. Ever so slowly. Please be patient!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Day 40-43, Lake Titicaca Peru Style

The following takes place between Thursday, January 6 and Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ah, Lake Titicaca. Every grade 5 boy’s favorite part of geography class. And probably my dad’s all time favorite lake as well. No other place can reduce boys and [some] men into giggling school girls.

Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, and at over 165 square kilometers it is huge. Looking from shore, you cannot see the other end. The lake itself also spans two countries, with the border for Peru/Bolivia straddling the lake.  Should make for a wonderful little visit!

At least, I thought it would.

Somehow I should’ve realized that this was going to turn out bad when the taxi didn’t show up at the hostel the morning of my bus ride. With many glances at the clock, and knowing I had to be at the bus station half an hour before the departure time, I was running out of time.

Well, actually, I ran out of time five minutes before I decided to take action. I put on my backpack, grabbed my daypack, said goodbye to the hostel workers, and ran down the hill to the nearest plaza where I figured I’d be able to flag down a taxi. Luckily I managed to do just that and got to the bus station with five minutes to spare. Running through the terminal, I got my actual seat ticket, paid the departure tax, and ran to the bus, throwing my backpack into the luggage compartment. It was a photo finish.

The bus ride itself was rather uneventful and I got into Puno, Peru in the mid afternoon. Grabbed a taxi and got to the hostel. I immediately unloaded and just collapsed on the bed. I spent the rest of the day exploring the area and picking up some foodstuff for supper.

The next day, I booked through the hostel a tour to Sillustani, the stone towers near Puno that has been discovered to be an ancient burial ground. As the tour bus would not pick me up from the hostel until 2pm, I grabbed a book from the book exchange library, poured myself some tea, and settled down to read.

By the time the bus came to pick me up, I had finished the 400+ page book. What can I IMG_1232say? It was a page turner.

After a 45 minute drive(with a quick stop to look over Puno from above), we arrived at Sillustani. The tour itself was rather short as the site isn’t entirely large. It was impressive though, seeing these huge towers made of stone, knowing that they are really nothing more than oversized burial chambers. There were over 100 burial sites at Sillustani,IMG_1245 though most were just little towers of rocks. Few had the precision cut of the tower in the picture.

Regardless of how short the visit was, it was still very interesting, but somehow only in hindsight. I think I was starting to feel the first little twinges of travelers fatigue. The feeling that each site just looks like the last one.

Sadly, I didn’t recognize this and when I got back to the hostel, I booked my tour of the floating islands of Lake Titicaca.

I was picked up that Saturday morning at 6:45am. I was the first one on the bus so I grabbed a seat near the front and tried to catch a little nap. Once we had our full group, we were driven to the docks and hopped onto a little boat, heading off to the Floating islands.

IMG_1291These things are sweet. Made from lightweight tree roots that float, as well as over a meter of reeds laid down cross wise, 49 of these islands dot the lake in this little area. Each island is owned by a single family, and with the advent of a floating hospital, inbreeding has all but stopped. Unwritten rules have been created among the families that you are not allowed to marry someone from the same island.

We were shown how the island was made, how the boats are IMG_1295made from the same reeds, how the reeds are also used for food(tastes kinda like a water chestnut and is chock full of calcium and iron), and were shown just how deep the water was(over 15 meters at this point).

After the short tour, we were given the opportunity, for less than C$5, of taking the reed boat over to the next floating island. You didn’t have to tell me twice!!! IMG_1318Although, admittedly, I did feel a little guilt for the couple that rowed us across. I can’t imagine it was an easy job.

The stop at the second floating island was short, but nice considering the sun had finally come out. Before long, we were back on the motorized boat and on a two hour trip to Taquile, a large island(non-floating) where we would be having lunch. I ended up napping on the boat until there were some really big waves that really rocked the boat.

The island involved more climbing(gah!!!!!) to get to the main square of the little town where we would be having lunch. I opted, seeing as I was on an island on a lake, to have the trout. Imagine my surprise when I found out that the trout from the lake are not naturally from the area. No matter on the size of the lake, the native fish are very small. So, in an effort to keep up the fish stock with larger fish, rainbow trout from Canada as well as kingfish from. . . . I forget . . . were IMG_1348introduced into the lake. The trout I was eating was from Canada.

After lunch, we all headed out and down the 550 Inca steps to the docks to take the boat back to the mainland. I spent the entire trip back on the roof of the boat. Which is probably why I developed a cold.

It’s a good thing I spent the entire next day doing nothing. Not that it stopped the onset of the stuffy nose and the cough.

I hate getting sick.

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