Inhabiting with the Islanders
Trip Start Oct 23, 2008
33Trip End Mar 01, 2009
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Where I stayed
A wee little Islanders House
We arrived down to the docks in Puno at 7am and after shaking off a particularly persistant tour agent we made it to the local boats and bartered our way on with the captain. It was a very little boat but we got to sit on the roof once out of the harbour which helped to hold off any boat sickness any of us might have encountered. Our group had shrunk to just myself, Nikki and Claire as Frenchie had decided the night before that Islands werenīt his thing and he was going to head on to Bolivia. So the 3 of us adventured on to Taquile with a short stop of on the way to the floating Islands on the Lake Titicaca.
We were half way to the floating Islands when I got my first impulse to start with the photos. Took my camera out, switched it on and nothing except a particularly nasty sinking feeling in my stomach. My nicely charged battery was still in the charger which had been hastily throw into my bag when packing that morning! Great place for it to be. At least both of the girls had good cameras with them and promised I could use them as much as I needed and then copy all the photos after. So not all was lost but still not quite the same as your own camera!
The floating Islands were incredible. Completely manmade from reeds and some with only a handful of people on them wheras others have hostels - (almost!) and schools and restaurants - itīs amazing! The communities are so isolated and with the exception of trout it must be really difficult to be self sufficient on a reed island so I couldnīt really understand the idea behind - lets go build an island in the middle of a gigantic lake where we canīt really be self-sufficient and have no real way of making money. But I suppose itīs just a completely different culture and mindset which you have to respect. In fairness no locals that Iīve met can understand why on earth I would want to take off around the world on my own so itīs just a different perspective on things.
We then trundeled on across the lake for an eternity and eventually arrived at Taquile and were faced with a particularly vertical set of 500 stairs leading to the main archway where families were waiting to offer accomodation for the night and point out points of interest on the Island. After a particularly nasty climb with our rucksacks where breathing was near impossible at times and the arch never seemed to get any nearer I eventually reached the top and had a good 20 minutes to soak up the spectacular scenery and wait for the other two. We were befriended by a local who seemed normal at the time but did get stranger and stranger the longer we spent with him.
He led us to the main part of the Island where we got a deicious Trout lunch and then followed him up the little hill (which seems far worse at 3,900 meters than it would have on the flat) and were welcomed into our tiny little surprisingly cosy rooms. I shared with Nikki while Claire got the second room - the one with a working light!
A little eargerly myself and Nikki decided to investigate the sunset and spent a pleasant couple of hours waiting for the sunset, taking riduculous pictures and chilling out on rocks with only a few cows and sheep wandering by to break the absolute serenity of it all. And the occasional local.
The view was spectacular and not only did we get to watch the sunset but also a spectacular thunder storm over the mainland, miles and miles away. It was simply amazing. With no other gringo in sight it was just like stepping back in time to when there was nothing to stress about, there was little technology and life was just simpler.
Everyone just spends their time knitting, tending the vegies, wandering about or picking nits out of their kids hair. The kids seem to run the place as they do the most of Peru - out working, selling their wares or finding the occasional lost gringo looking for a bed for the night while the parents seem to spend their time in the houses. Except for those out begging for money but even then its normally only from 12-2 when the tour boats arrive and people stay for two hours before being ushered back onto the boats to get back before dark.
We took the opportunity for an early night as there was even less to do when it got dark and the views had gone and in the morning we were ready for some more wandering and chilling out with spectacular scenery everywhere. One thing which did unsettle me slightly while staying on the Island was that we read that very few Islanders marry outside of the island and with a population of 2,000 that doesnīt really leave many options. Which is a little disturbing and I quickly decided island life wasnt for me. Nice to visit and all but I didnīt really fancy spending the rest of my like knitting and planting potatoes however pretty the view was.
The boat was pretty uneventful on the way back. Curled up on top and fell asleep, Nikki in her sleeping bag, me in the many layers I had brought with me and luckily not needed as much as I thought I would as it was a little warmer than I thought and had had so many blankets the night before that I could barely move in bed due to the weight!
Got back to the delight that is Puno, booked our bus for 7 the next morning to Bolivia and after supper headed back to the hostel to find that luckily our rucksacks were still there and I got my own room - second time in 2 months!!! No Frenchie this time to wake me up with his snoring and random shouting in Spanish half way through the night from the other side of the room like Iīd had two night before.
As Iīve said before while travelling itīs the small things in life you learn to appreciate!