We had decided to cut our stay in Copacobana short so that we could be sure to watch the Floating Islands, and organise onwards transport to Cuzco. En route, we learnt (via traveller gossip) that Puno was currently hosting typhoid, and really wasnt worth much more than 1 night. Fair enough, with these bleak expectations, we didnt have our hopes raised too high.
All accounts turned out to be correct, and Puno is the most frigid city so far (or maybe just the coldest hostel ever)! We got in, shopped around for a tour and transport to Cuzco, we got both in not to long, and with that, there wasnt much more to do in Puno city. The tour we got with a discount thanks to some Aussie “amigos” we stumbled upon, but we reckon she made up for it by punishing us with the bus ticket instead.
While waiting for nightfall, so that we could eat (again), we used the internet for a good couple of hours, then I had my first Llama meal. The meat was very nice! Definatly something to try again!
The next day, we headed out towards the Floating Islands. It turned out to be a long day…. We got the slowest boat, we had an 8 year old “captain”, literally, and a toilet that was full and did not flush (despite some heavy advertising re baño being on board). We got to the Floating Islands in only 20 minutes, then listened to our guides presentation, before I got tricked into an old mans cottage to buy handicarafts made by he and his wife. Sara followed suit, and in not very long at all, we had bought what seemed like a reasonable rug, or wall hanging. Then we got pestered to buy other stuff once outside again, and then the cold shoulder for declining to go on a very expensive paddle across to another floating island. We caught our own boat instead, and to our great delight, found an almost identical rug on the other island as well.
Enough about that, the islands themselves are interesting, 2m deep, floating ontop of 20m of water. They are anchored (so as not to float to Bolivian waters), and continously renewed or extended. Each Island is home to about 7 families, and there are about 2000 people living out there. It was very commercialiced, and geared for the tourist. After no one seemed to care to shop anymore, we where ushered back onto the boat, to go to Isla Taquile. This turned out to be a slow ride (2.5hrs). With the 8 other tourist boats along side ours, it was not hard to tell who was going to get there last, us. It didnt help that we at most times had an 8 year old (man-child) and very distracted skipper.
Isla Taquile was very picteruesque (a self-sustaining farmimg communities), although a lot of hard work for some who could not handle the altitude and walking up the hill. Again, we enjoyed the tourist show, but not the tourist toilets. Who decided that it was a good idea to install european toilets in a place with no sewerage and no running water, instead turning it into a very expensive potty? I dont know, but it seems like a poor idea to me.
We bought some more handicraft, before getting back onto our boat. We also got an Inca Kola. It may surprise you, but Inka Kola and Julebrus, seems to be the same drink, exept for different colours (Inka Kola being fluorescent yellow). The boat ride back took another while, again beeing the last boat to port, and again with an underage captain.
Puno invited us back in with her freezing arms, we ate some more, then went to bed, again. I apologise for the negative tones throughout this, but Puno didnt show us her best side, and if she did, it wasnt much to brag about.
Next morning, we got onto our FirstClass bus. It was quite a confusing rigmaroll getting there (we werent clear on where the bus left from… wasnt from the bus station..), and this also repeated itself when we got to Cuzco. Anyways, this is the cultural express to Cuzco, it stops at a few good, and a few not so good sites (we can only presume that they were actually just tourist focused market places..) along the way. The lunch buffet put something in my stomach, that I were to carry with me the next 5 days… Gastrolyte and Immodium to the rescue. Sara on the other hand, is so far fine.
What turned out to be a dragged out version of the previous day, eventually saw us to Cuzco!