1.9 Lake Titicaca
If we renamed all the tourist attractions in England so that their names included hilarious words such as Titi, the British tourist industry would be at an all time high. More reasons to vote for me, as your new prime minister.
Anyhow. The megavirus and I had been together for nearly ten days when I decided it just wasn´t working out. I found the nearest hospital and they did a blood test, a chest examination, and some test where they stick a cotton swab down your throat (although at this point I was already shaking and clearly quite ill, so they might have done that one just for fun.) Turns out, I have mild tonsilitus, and, a medical bill. I actually wanted to ask the lady quite where she got off charging me for a consultation in which she couldn´t consult with me because she didn´t speak any English, but, obviously, I couldn´t make her understand me.
So it was, that that night, dosed up on painkillers, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and antihistamines, I set off snottily for the lake. Seriously, whoever said travelling was glamourous…
We had booked our seats in advance on an overnight bus to Puno, and had even spent a little extra sole on getting the reclinable seats in first class. We were pretty excited about this, because First Class on a bus in South America is still First Class, and happily drank our free camomile tea, even though it burnt us and none of us like camomile tea.
It was an uncomfortable night that ended in us being unceremoniously deposited in a Puno bus depot. Puno, let me say, is a popular tourist destination only because it borders Lake Titicaca. It is an ugly town; even the guide book says so. We got really annoyed at all of the ticket touts descending like vultures, trying to sell us tours, boat trips, taxis and their maiden aunts, if you would only pay them for the trouble, and in the end we just yelled at them all to go away and sat down grumpily. Five minutes later we had to go back over and say that we actually did quite fancy a tour, and sorry for all the yelling.
Lake Titicaca is so astoundingly beautiful. Like you wouldn´t even believe. It´s this huge expanse of flat, blue water, interspersed with reeds and islands and the occasional boat.
We visited the Uros islands, which are like huge rafts make of a bamboo-like reed. Each one of them supports up to ten families, and they move about the lake in bad weather. Our tour guide explained that the indegenous people first moved on to the island to escape the people from the mainland. As he said this, one of the islanders was actually standing behind him holding a saw, and I wasn´t entirely convinced that the rivalries had been forgotten. Anyhow, he proceeded to use the saw to demonstrate how they literally cut their islands in half when they have religous disputes, leaving each opposing side with its own piece of the land.
It was very surreal walking around the tiny floating island, and I got some pictures of this grumpy lady who was weaving blankets. She was grumpy because I pretended I wanted to buy a blanket so that I could take a photo, but I think she saw through my ruse.
Next, we visited the island of Taquile, where we climbed up a ridiculously steep hill to reach the main plaza. At the top there were ´knitting men´ and a signpost that showed us just exactly how far away from home we are. We ate lunch with the best view ever, overlooking the most beautiful part of the lake.
After the tour ended, we were dropped back into the centre of Puno, and, knowing nothing of the area or the people, we did the sensible thing and made a dash for the nearest pizza restaurant. We had to take a night bus back, and tried not to think about the cockroaches. (Last night I found a cockroach crawling on my hand as we went to get off the bus. On my hand. My Hand. I may never sleep again.)
We managed to get some sleep, but we were still sleepy when we arrived at our Inca trail hotel at 4`o`clock this morning, far too early to check in, and we were fast asleep when the concierge woke us at eight with an awkward `er – Signoritas?` to tell us that our room was ready.
Radio Silence resumes, Inca Trail for the next five days!
MTG, PV x
P.S, I have better photos, but the ridiculously slow upload speed is making me insane. Don´t worry, I ´m sure you´ll all be subjected to some sort of slideshow when I return home…