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marge & ian’s Travel Diary

Friday, 03 Feb 2006

Location: *Lake Titicaca - PERU*, Peru

Map*Lake Titicaca - PERU* 03/02/06 - 05/02/06

03/02/06

In order to get to Lake Titicaca, we needed to go to the port town of Puno. The Lake is the highest navigable lake in the world and the largest in South America.

Soon after arriving in Puno we booked a trip to some islands to see how local people lived.

04/02/06
"The Floating Islands"

Years ago the original people of the area the "Uros", who lived on the edge of the lake, had to flee the Inca´s and sailed to the middle of the lake in their reed boats. After a couple of days they sailed into the reeds on the edge of the lake and basically stayed there forever. They built floating islands out of the reeds.

We got our boat early in the morning and sailed through the reeds to get to the floating islands.

Every two months to stop the islands sinking they have to replenish the reeds on top. So when you get off the boat it is surprisingly bouncy underfoot. We walked around one of the islands and had a nosey into some of the houses, which were also made out of reed. In fact the only thing that didn´t appear to be made out of reed was the toilet, although the cubicle was reed, the actual toilet was porcelain - very bizzare! We also took a reed boat ride to another one of the islands before getting back on out boat and heading to the island where we would be staying for the evening with a Peruvian Family!

*Island Mananita*

It took another 3 or so hours to get to Island Mananita. We got off the boat, walked a short distance, and were met by the local people of the Island. We then stood around and were assigned to a family for the evening, it was like being picked for a team at school. We were last to be picked!! We were taken by a lady called Olga to her mothers house at the top of the hill.

I think that this is the strangest experience that we have had so far. We were shown to our room, which was "alright" I suppose and and hour later called down for lunch. This was served in the dingy, dark, very basic kitchen by the miserable old bag of a mother. We were seated at the scabby table while they sat on the floor, which made us feel well comfortable as you can imagine!!!! Every attempt that Ian made at conversation was met with a one line answer and a freaky look from the old bag. The food was pretty basic too and portions small! If if wasn´t for Olga´s cute little 2 year old entertaining us by calling out "hola tourista" at every given opportunity, it would have been unbearable.

After a short walk to the Temple of the Sun at the top of the island, we went back for an equally uneventful, awkwardly silent dinner! We just expected them to be more friendly and at least sit with us, and not make us feel as though we were on a tourist treadmill.

The evening took a funny turn when Olga knocked on our door clutching local dress for us to wear to the "Disco". I was wrapped in 4 very fetching skirts, which made me look about 20 stone, a blouse and shawl, while Ian, on the otherhand only had to put on a poncho and local beanie hat.

We made our way to the Disco where all the other tourists were also dressed up, and the locals took it in turns to fling us round the room. It was knackering at the altitude, and each song seemed to last forever. In fact one of the songs lasted for so long and was so vigorous that one of my many skirts fell down on the dancefloor! The bar was well stocked with Coke, Beer and Water.

05/02/06

After a really crap nights sleep, and a couple of midnight trips to the outside loo (very scary) we got up and had to walk down to the boat in the middle of a thunderstorm to go to the next island. Nothing happened, the island was shit, and we were forced to walk uphill around the whole thing, in the pissing rain. The only saving grace was that they sold wicked toblerone´s at the top.

Thankfully the weather cleared up for our 5 hour boat journey back to Puno and we were able to do a spot of sunbathing on the top of the boat.