First they take you over Unos, a village built entirely on reed float. Each little float usually has about 4 families and its own president (usually the eldest male), with some floats slightly bigger with little markets and restaurants. Visiting one of the little island certainly had a distinct cheese-factor to it, as they all were dressed in local traditional clothing and said hello in traditional as well as English ways to everyone
. I sincerely wonder if they actually live there given that this reminded me more of riding its s small world in Disneyland than something that could
be real We were told about the local food, ways of life and how they build the little islands. Apparently they last around 9 years, before they build a new one. The funniest, I thought, was that when a argument happens and two parts of the little floats disagree, they simply cut it in half and push it away to go float elsewhere. If only you could always apply that to the less-fond neighbors! Next we took the boat to Armani Island, a bigger and natural island, full of green terraces and small houses built of mud. Here we were to stay a night with a local family, to experience life. It seemed this was much more authentic, and we got a chance to speak to the families and their way of life. Truly startling was , besides the odd visit to Puno, they have never travelled elsewhere, what an isolation from the world. Not sure if that would be peaceful or drive me mad…. (here is thinking the latter). We had lunch with them, then met up at the soccer field- where they had built a stadium. They take their soccer very seriously- 10 different communities on the island meant 10 teams, that seasonally played every night to a small crowd. We saw sunset from the highest point (a troubling climb given the soroche that had kicked in), had dinner and slept long hours.
The next day we had a final tour of Taquile Island, with slightly different customs we were taught about and then had lunch. Again here in Peru I thought suddenly of Italy, with the rolling hills and Tuscanesque landscape.
3 hours back in the boat, a troubling negotiation with the guide and we were in a hotel for the night (they still had our cases and suddenly they didn't know what hotel we were at), a last night in Puno and an early morning bus over the border to Copacabana , Bolivia.
We took an overnight bus from Cusco to Puno (7 hours)- even with semi reclinable beds not the most pleasant experience- but far cheaper than any other option. We had been advised Puno was not really a place to be very long, so we booked straight onto one of the two day island tours on the highest navigate able lake on the world – Lake Titicaca (pronounced TitiGcaGca. Another tourist adventure for sure, but really worth it an a unique insight to a total different way of life.