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Thursday 6th May - Puno, Lake Titicaca, Uros Islands and Taquile Island
By Claire
Friday, 7th May 2004 01:36

We spent the day on Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, which, at 3800m would explain why I was out of breath running up the hotel stairs last night... The boat was slow and gentle and we took about an hour to get to the first stop, the floating reed islands. These were lumps of reeds, hacked into 30ft squares, that were anchored in the lake and inhabited by families of Uros and Aymara tribes. The reeds themselves were cut down and laid on the ground, so the whole thing was like an unpleasantly soft floating mat. Reed houses with reed roofs were dotted around, and really cute reed boats with faces took local people from one island to the next. Solar panels collected enough power for a light or a television, but other than that these people lived exactly as they always have done, dressed in traditional costume, purely for all the tourists who come to visit. It was the first time I felt more comfortable on a boat than on land though, as the islands rocked and swayed a bit too much...

After another couple of hours on the boat (where Mikey and I both suffered from the waves a bit - the wind picked up and the little boat moved far too much for my liking), we arrived on Taquile Island, which was idylic. The snow-capped mountains of Bolivia and the amazing blue of the lake were breathtaking, as was the walk to the top of the island for lunch. Along the way the inhabitants, all Quechua, went about their daily work in traditional dress and it made me feel a bit rude just watching them. The women sat on the sides of the paths and span wool while the men sat around knitting hats. And they were spectacular hats, long and floppy like cartoon night-caps with big pompoms on the ends. It made them all look a bit like Father Christmas elves (not Tolkein elves) because the Quechua people are quite small and everyone was wearing them. The island was covered with Inca terraces growing potatoes, beans and maize, and cows and sheep grazed happily. There was not a single cloud in the sky, although the wind was cold.

We had lunch in a tiny restaurant and the menu consisted of vegetable soup and fried trout. Which was excellent, and I ate the whole trout, which is something I've never done before. Very proud of myself. They had real chips too, which was nice.

It took three hours to get back, and now we're going out for supper. That's it!

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