We woke to a new day not knowing what was outside our curtains. Wow! Our room has a floor to ceiling view of the interesting, Lake Titicaca. Considered the highest navigable lake in the world at 3812 meters and the largest on the continent of South America, the border with Bolivia is just south of Puno, where we are staying.
We have a 7:30am boat departure for an excursion to the unique floating islands of Uros. The Uros are a pre-Incan people who live on floating islands on Lake Titicaca. The purpose of the island settlements was originally defensive, and if a threat arose they could be moved. The largest island retains a watchtower almost entirely constructed of reeds.
The Uros use bundles of dried totora reeds to make reed boats, often termed balsas mats, and to make the islands themselves.
The larger islands house about ten families, while smaller ones, only about thirty meters wide, house only two or three.
After a 30 minute launch trip, we come into the main area of the floating islands and we see ladies in bright clothing waving at us and beckoning us to come to their island to learn about how their islands are made from the reeds. We arrive at one and are given a very friendly welcome and ushered to some reed lounges to hear their story.
One of the village people describe how they form a new island and how they give it maintenance regularly. Also, the way they make their houses and boats out of the reeds.
Close by is the island’s ‘gift shop’. How perceptive they are – we must have brought money to buy their handcrafts. We take a cruise around the area in a reed boat with some of our group trying their skill of rowing for us. In the high altitude, most of us find it exhausting to say the least.
We must be back to the hotel for a 10:30am transfer to Juliaco. Climbing out of the town of Puno, we are at 4000 meters again but have brilliant views of Lake Titicaca. The sky is clear and clean.
The city of Juliaco is a mess. With the ‘no completed building, no rates charged’ scheme, it means that towns look just untidy and as if no-one cares. Predominantly, the garbage is cared for but all the unfinished buildings don’t do anything for being proud of what you own.
Our flight back to Lima is the fourth time we have arrived at this large and busy city. We say good-bye to Mick and Robyn, Mark and Kirsten tonight as they return home via other ports.
Tomorrow, the tour group travel to Buenos Aires.