Upon returning to Cusco from our Machu Picchu trip, we promptly packed up our things and headed on yet another night bus to Puno. We had the choice between first class and economy (please note the difference between the two was only about $3.50). Figuring that we didn´t NEED first class, we stupidly, chose economy. I wish I had checked the temperature in Puno before reserving this bus but after so much traveling many details managed to fall through the cracks, such as this one. I was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt with my nice warm fleece but it wasn´t nearly enough. The company gave us a paper thin fleece blanket but a couple hours into the trip I woke up freezing my &%$ off. Sitting next to the window was also a pretty bad call. I pulled back the window curtain at one point and saw that the windows were covered in frost. It was like Michigan in the winter in this bus minus proper clothing and heating. When we finally showed up at 6:30 in the morning we checked into our hotel and slept for another 4-5 hours. The hotel was cold too but at least had ample blankets. I must say that I´ve never been somewhere this cold that didn´t have heating. We checked the internet the next day and found that the overnight temperature traveling from Cusco to Puno was about minus 26 degrees!!!
That day Wendy and I were both tired and hungry and had difficulty making decisions. We weren´t crazy about our hotel but decided to stay for purposes of convenience. We then planned to have breakfast/lunch in Puno, watch the world cup final and then go do a short hike to a nice lookout. After lunch, though, I was feeling less than stellar and needed to relax the rest of the afternoon. We hit up a few shops, made tour plans for the next day, ate dinner at a pretty good restaurant then called it a day.
The next day our tour bus came to pick us up at 6:40am and of course we were running late with breakfast. The bus picked up about 15 of us and took us to a port. Before we knew it we were on a boat in Lake Titicaca, headed to the floating islands of Uros. We were greated in the Aymara language but I responded in Spanish anyhow not remembering how the guide had told us to respond. The boat ride was pretty but nothing truly exceptional until we reached the islands. We were given a presentation as to how the islands were and continue to be built of reeds. The locals must be continually building the island as the reeds rot from the bottom. We even got to taste the reeds before they were dried – apparently they are very good for your teeth. Who knew? Standing on the islands was comparable to either a trampoline or a waterbed – take your pick. Either way it was a bit surreal to think that people live that way. The winter nights in Puno, as you may have gleened from my earlier comments in this post, are pretty harsh, making life on these islands all the more impressive.
After the islands we headed to a Taquile. Here we walked from the dock up many stops to the highest point where the city was. There was a decent view and we had lunch at a local restaurant. There we learned that every restaurant serves the same lunch menu for the day and also about the customs of the area. The people there dress in a very particular way and the men even wear hats that signify whether they are single or married (much easier than the ring business I must admit).
During the tour Wendy and I met some Brasilians and also a couple from eastern Germany (yay!) I spoke some German with them of course but was embarassed by my pauses as I couldn´t remember all the words as quickly as I would´ve liked! The night was unremarkable as we went back to pack up and take off for the next stop: Arequipa.