Pisaq and Uros Islands

Trip Start Jul 31, 2005
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Trip End Feb 18, 2007


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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Market Day in Pisaq

We traveled back from Machu Picchu on a Sunday, and as luck would have it, it was market day in Pisaq, a town on the way back to Cusco from where the train left us at Ollantaytambo. The Pisaq Sunday market is a small colourful indigenous market selling local handicrafts to the tourists, plus fruit, veg and other food to the locals. We've seen many indigenous markets, but this one, was especially quaint and colourful, and wasn't overwhelmingly big like other markets we've seen.

After a few hours strolling around the market, we head back to Cusco. We've seen and done everything we wanted to do around Cusco, but it's still hard to drag ourselves away from this place. There aren't many places in this part of Latin America with such a great selection of quality places to eat and go out.

After two more days in Cusco, we take a day bus to Puno. We say bye to Billy and Vanina, who it's been great being around, not only for their company, but also for their ability to find much better restaurants than we've been able to:-)

A Rapid Excuse is Needed

We were both extremely glad when our bus eventually arrived in Puno, as we had some Israeli guy on board who obviously hadn't washed in a while, or ever heard of deodorant and who stank out the whole bus. So imagine our delight when we were walking off the bus and he stopped us to ask if he could share a cab with us into town. We were caught off guard and didn't have time to think up an excuse. So after almost choking to death on the way into town, our Latin American book of pre-constructed lies and excuses has now been rapidly expanded to include undesired encounters with other tourists.

Puno, a Town Which Never Looks Completed

Puno, from the outskirts looks like a right dump. Part of the reason for this is that hardly any of the houses have been completed. Apparently, if your house looks uncompleted then you can avoid paying the property tax. I can't believe that the idiot who is responsible for this law never realized that something like this would happen. Despite the outskirts of Puno looking like a right dump, the pedestrianised central main street is actually quite pleasant and has many tourist type services and facilities.

Lake Titicaca's Floating Islands

The reason most tourists stop at Puno is to visit the Uros islands in Lake Titicaca. At around 4000m above sea level, Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world and the Uros islands are undoubtedly it's star attraction. Built out of reeds in the lake and about 30 minutes boat ride from shore, these islands are still lived on by the Aymara people who first came here to seek shelter from the aggressive Incas.

We took an early morning boat to the islands, and as soon as we stepped off the boat we realized we've never before seen anything like them.

They are completely made out of reed which is replenished from the top as the bottom slowly rots away in the water. Walking around them is strange as you can continuously feel your feet sinking into the soft base. It reminded me of the feeling of walking around on a bouncy castle (when I was a kid!). The people are also another highlight, they are so colourful and the kids are so cute. After taking a traditional reed boat around to visit another one of the islands, we became amazed that people still actually live like this. A million miles away from the civilization that we know back in Europe.

Next we're off to visit one of the highest countries in the world and also one of the poorest in South America, Bolivia.

Our Highlights of Peru

People.
Empire.
Rambling.
Uros.

The people of Peru have been great. In a country with so many tourists, you'd expect the people to be a bit jaded by tourism. But not here, people are friendly, for the most part honest, and very lively. Here, if a bus doesn't leave on time, people start complaining and banging their feet on the floor, something we've never seen anywhere else in Latin America.

The Empire of the Incas with it's capital Cusco and the ruins of Machu Picchu have been another fascinating highlight of Peru.

Rambling and cycling around the amazing scenery of the Cordillera Blanca is some of the best we've done.

The Uros islands are amazing and unlike anything else we've seen before.
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