Mon 12th to Tue 13th December
This morning we leave Cusco and head South to Puno and Lake Titicaca where we are going to visit the Uros Islands, more commonly known as the floating or reed islands.
Up on the altiplano. Most of the day we were at around 13,000 ft.
Sometimes when you ride into town you feel like outlaws from the wild west as everyone seems to be watching you, doors close and curtains twitch (a bit of an exaggeration).
Coffee stops didn't get much better than this today.
Back on the high plain.......
..... and heading towards the storm.
Within a few minutes thunder and lightening was all around us. With one particularly close flash both Roger and I got an electrical shock (that's probably our last few brain cells fried). At the same time a heavy hailstorm quickly made the road treacherous and we took shelter under a garage forecourt for the best part of the next hour. Eventually the storm eased and we continued onto Puno, booked into a corporate type hotel where everything worked and there was plenty of hot water....... luxury.
Tuesday - Terry and I took a trip to the 'floating islands'. Both Bob and Roger had been before and chose to stay in Puno and source some bits for their bikes. Bob's bracket holding his horn has broken and Roger wanted to find some octane booster (in the forlorn hope that it would fix his idling problem) and some chain oil.
The tourist bus picked us up at the hotel and took us down to the pier where loads of boats to transport tourists to the islands were moored. It was a slick operation designed to extract as much money from the tourist as possible. Even before the boat sailed a local musician came on board and played for five minutes to a captive audience before handing the hat around.
This is the low season, however, there was still a procession of boats motoring up the channel toward the islands.....
..... and a toll booth at the end where the boat operator paid his fee.
Each boat was allocated a separate island to visit (there are about 60)
The welcoming committee as we landed.
Six families totalling 25 people lived on the island that is no bigger than about 30 metres diameter and after an explanation of their history and how and why the islands were built, we were split up and shown inside one of the huts where they live. The 3 month old baby was lying on the bed neatly wrapped in immaculate and colourful blankets and we were shown handicrafts made by the families that they had displayed for sale.
After that we were transported across to the communal island by ceremonial boat (an extra ten soles each) where there is a cafe, bar and more gift stalls. Although interesting, the tour appeared somewhat sanitised, even a little unreal. We joked that at the end of the day they all went back to the mainland, got in their Mercedes and drove home to their mansions.
Lake Titicaca at over 12,000 ft above sea level, is apparently the highest commercially navigable lake in the World (although what the definition of a navigable lake is, I have no idea). The lake is some 118 miles long and up to 50 miles wide with the border of Bolivia running through the middle. I suspect this Peruvian coastguard boat getting ready to sail doesn't catch too many drug runners or illegals.
Puno doesn't have too much to offer in respect of history or architecture and is typical of many cities in this part of the World. Unplanned, chaotic with a run down feel to it.
Spending all day and half the night sitting on the pavement trying to sell a few trinkets.
Another interesting sight were these gents, all sitting in the street with portable typewriters at the ready waiting for someone to come along who wanted some typing to be done. There were at least half a dozen of them with stools for the clients and umbrellas at the ready should the weather turn nasty.
Tomorrow we aim to cross the border into Bolivia and head for La Paz.