A very weird fancy dress party

Trip Start Oct 01, 2012
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Trip End Oct 01, 2015


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Flag of Peru  , Puno,
Friday, November 2, 2012

Its the 2nd november which means its day 2 into movember!! You can see tais moustache in the pics below!
We arrived in puno bright and early having survived another bus trip. We were a little dubious getting on the bus as it had two large rock shaped holes in the windscreen, however there was nothing to worry about. We grabbed a cab and headed to a hostel emile had recommended - the duque inn- it was up some very steep hills and the taxi was struggling. When we checked into our room we were greeted with awesome panoramic views of lake titicaca - famous for being the highest lake in the world. We climbed into bed and napped for a couple of hours before heading up to the breakfast room. The terrace was on the roof and yet again had some beautiful views. We were itching to get down and explore, we hadn't heard many good things about puno so didn't expect much. We arrived at the main plaza to find a large brass band with people dressed in an array of colourful outfits. We listened to the band for a while and then headed off to try and arrange our trips to the islands the following day. We walked down the main road which was lined with restaurants and travel agents and enquired about a few tours. There was lots of locals dressed in typical peruvian outfits and it was a welcome change for them not to be asking for money for photos as you walked past. We decided to walk down towards the lake and we passed a local market on the street on route. The market was selling all kinds of fake flowers and wreaths we decided it was probably to do with puno day which was in a couple of days time. Puno day is the anniversary of the creation of puno and this year marked their 344 years. When we got the lake their was a lot of restaurants lining one side of the road, all constructed with tarpaulin, none with a toilet and all serving the same thing. We opted for the busiest and settled in for lunch. We got trout and an assortment of potatoes - we have been told many times that Peru has over 5000 types of potato and with every meal they like to give you at least 5-6 of those varieties. The brass band seemed to have followed us down to the lake and we walked along with the sounds of beating drums in the back ground. When we got back to town we had decided on a tour agency and booked for the following day and then celebrated our decision with a beer and a game of jenga in a nearby bar. On the way back to our hotel we stopped at a local market to buy some gifts for our family which we will be staying with the following night. That night was a fairly quiet one and we headed to bed after dinner and a quick drink ready for our trip the following day. In the morning we ate our home made breakfast, was picked up by our tour and was taken to the pier where we boarded a boat to take us to the first of the three islands we would be visiting that day- the floating islands of the uros tribes.
The islands are made entirely from reeds from the floor you stand on to the houses they live in and the food they eat. The islands were constructed from separate pieces of reed roots which were tied together and after a couple of years they would grow into one large piece. The roots (the floating part of the island) was then covered with layers of criss crossing reeds for a soft floor which had to be replaced every 3 or 4 weeks. They showed us how they would take long strips of reeds, peel off the outer layers and would be left with a watery fleshy middle which was edible- it kinda tasted like cucumber. We then looked inside their homes, even their beds were made of reeds. They did however have TVs which the children were extremely proud of, they were powered by solar panels which were brought to the islands in 1992. There's over 60 floating islands and apparently the islanders originally began building them when the incas came so they didn't have to live by their regimes.
We were then taken to another island by a traditional reed boat before boarding our tour boat and heading to armantani island.
Armantani island is the second biggest island on lake titicaca and would be our home for the night. On the very slow boats that ferry people across the lake we arrived on the island 3 hours later. We were met by our host families and shown to our homes. The lady who was hosting us was called Josephine and her home was set out on two levels around a square courtyard with a large garden to the rear. The house was made of rocks and bricks and covered in a red clay type material. We had one of the views on the 2nd floor and had a view of the lake- it was definitely much nicer than we would ever have expected!
We were made some lunch and then taken to meet back up with our group before walking to the highest point of the island to watch the sunset. On the way back down we bought a beer and drank it over looking the lake. We were collected then by Josephine's husband- Martin and taken back to our house. Back at the house some of Josephine's children were back from school- she has ten in total but most are married and living in different communities on the island. We had a delicious dinner and then were dressed up in local outfits and taken to the community hall for a night of traditional dancing and music. A night apparently put on to welcome us all to their communities. We all looked very dashing and tai in particular wanted to wear his back at home too. The knee length poncho and wooly hat did suit him though especially with his moustache he is growing for movember!
We had a couple of drinks and joined in - much to martins delight- with the local dancing which was basically holding hands and dancing in a big circle while the girls swooshed their skirts and the boats span in their ponchos. We were having a great time and after dancing for a while martin - who had been working in the fields all day and was doing the same tomorrow- started feeling tired and so we headed back at around 10pm.
The following morning we were made delicious fluffy pancakes by Josephine who quizzed us about martins behaviour the night before- asking if he had drunk a beer or not. We decided she definitely wore the trousers as she sent him to the party with us instead of coming herself.
We said our farewells and headed back down to the lake to get our boat to our third and final island, the island of taquile.
When we got there we headed to another locals house and learnt a lot about local traditions. Apparently if the women wore their hair plaits to the back it meant they were married and if they wear them to the front then they are single. We also found out that the most important men of the island wore full brimmed cowboy style hats.
After walking to the main square and up to the highest point we headed for lunch and were treated to the most beautiful views across the lake and fresh trout for about 4 pounds. After lunch we had to walk back down to the port for our boat back to puno. There was 500 steps to decend down and then we passed through an old stone arch and down the final path to the boat. For the three hour journey back to the main land I slept whilst tai got very involved in his sonic racing game.
Back in puno we quickly got ready and then headed back into the town for some drinks to celebrate our last night in Peru. As we passed the main square the puno celebrations were well and truly underway and a large crowd was gathering to watch people dancing the traditional dance just as we were doing the night before.
The following day we went to the tour office to collect our tickets and after a slight mix up and a further payment we were ready to head to the bus station for our bus to copacabana, Bolivia - the next part of our journey.
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