I feel like we're really motoring now. Back to similar speeds of travel we achieved through Mexico when we'd be moving every one to two days. We've a little over a month left meaning there is no time to laze around. So, after the delights of Cusco and the striped pants brigade, we took a bus to Puno for a taste of Lake Titicaca on the Peruvian side.
Our guide book didn't sound too thrilled about the Uros islands. The people there have constructed their islands from reeds. They use reeds for everything; their houses, their boats and as carpets. They live off the lake by fishing and hunting birds. But, so the book described, these days they have a secondary source of income: tourism. The book went on to say that the islands that you visit by boat are little more than "floating souvenir stalls". Cue the tourist trap alarm bells ringing in my head! But at the very least I was curious. It should be worth seeing the floating islands as you don't see them everyday.
We joined eight or so others and after about half an hour on the boat from the Puno dock, the islands started to come into view. I was reminded of that dreadful Kevin Costner film Waterworld, you know, the 90's big budget flop? This community had created land for themselves way out in the quite serene settings of the lake. There was a central canal and to either side were groups of islands. We stopped at one, got out and were confronted by, you guessed it, souvenir stalls. Luckily the awkward situation was broken by a guy who gathered us around a big map of the lake and started to explain about the islands and the people on them. He described how the islands are made, using the roots of the reeds and ropes and anchors and lastly, lots of cut reeds on top to make a soft floor. I was very glad of this. Not only was it interesting but it meant that it wasn't just us, the souvenir stalls and a bunch of people staring at us waiting for us to part with our Soles. Spend your money foreigners, they would be thinking, What's the matter? Are you too stingy??
Country Notes and Tales From Travellers
10 months ago