One of the Tribe (Puno, Peru)

Me and Martha headed back to Lake Titicaca for another weekend wind-down.

Having done the Island of the Sun, Copacabana town and the slight (though pretty) excuse for the floating islands, we wanted to do something much more ambitious.

We decided we would travel across the border to Peru, to see something new.

A 10 minute shared taxi brought us to the border, which was marked by a grand stone arch. The migrations queue was long and just about bearable in the midday heat. Once we had our stamps, we had the green light to pass under the grand arch into Peru.

There was a long, straight road heading straight towards the mountains, and the sky was a dense, hopeful blue. It was a pretty inspiring introduction into a new country!

The first difference we noticed was the tuk-tuks. They don't have these in Bolivia, yet just meters over the borderline there was an abundance of them. Already it felt like a different setup!

We boarded a tuk-tuk and headed to the border town of Yunguyo. From there, we took a shared minibus to Puno - the city on the lake.

The bus journey introduced us to deep green pastures and soft hills, quite different from the Bolivia we were used to. We drove under hectic thunderstorms and through sunny farmlands. All in a 2-hour journey!

We arrived into Puno and honestly we were pretty disappointed. The city was bland and didn't seem to have much point. There was nothing photogenic really. It was obvious that it was a transit stop for tourists, with western-style restaurants and bus tour agencies on every corner.

We planned to stay with a family on the famous floating Uros Islands. We didn't have much time to arrange it, as the last boat across left in an hour. We scrambled around tour agencies, being offered many rip-off prices, before settling for a pretty cheap deal.

Our boat left from Puno port, and it was a smooth half an hour journey across the lake to a collections of floating villages.

The sky was heavy with rainclouds, which we weren't used to in Bolivia.

Our boat left us at the first island. The Uru people were friendly - we could see them waving at us from a distance.

On the island, the families showed us around and delivered a demonstration as to how they reed the islands. It's a lot of hard work. The people have to constantly apply new layers of reeds to the top of the islands as the reeds on the bottom begin to rot and disintegrate into the lake. Especially in the rainy season, the rate of decay increases, which means almost 3x the work for the Uros.

The Uru people are a pre-Incan civilisation that have lived on Lake Titicaca for hundred of years. They built their islands entirely out of reeds which naturally grow around the lake. There are currently 48 of these islands - some are small, inhabiting a single family, and some are much grander, inhabiting entire villages!

After learning a little about the islands, we set off to find another island which we could stay on. For this, we needed to use a traditional reed boat, which looked pretty grand and elegant as it bobbed across the water.

As soon as we arrived at our second island, the rainclouds began to dissipate, revealing a gloriously golden sunset. We were in for a real treat!

We spoke with a member of the family who inhabited the island, and they had a room to offer us in one of the reed cabins on the edge of the island. It was very basic but incredibly cosy. Just what we wanted! The beds were piled with woollen weaved blankets.

We had a couple of hours to relax, which we spent watching the sunset.

Boats glided by and left gorgeous patterns and striations on the water.

Me and Martha had emotional moments. We both shared that it was definitely a highlight of our lives.

We even made a new friend!

As the sun dipped, the island was pitch black. Not a thing could be seen apart from a the lights of Puno which gleamed and twinkled from the mainland.

We were treated to a dinner of trout, which were fished from the lake and fried up within half an hour of each other.

It was divine, but shamefully was full of tiny bones which got caught up in my throat and kept buffering my enjoyment. Me and Martha shared a few ups of coca tea and enjoyed a DMC. We spoke about family, relationships, hopes for the future - all positive and uplifting. We talked ourselves out and headed to bed, where we continued the chat for another hour before one of us started snoring (probably me...)

It was a very cold night! In fact, it was so cold that my bollocks jumped right up into my body and had a game of pinball with my internal organs.

The next morning we were woken up by the daughter. She opened the door a crack and I screamed. Having had zero light for about 12 hours, it was a smack in the face. It took me a good hour to acclimatise to the brightness once I had gotten up.

It was a beautiful morning. The lake was pristine blue and the odd boat whizzed by, once again leaving mystifying chevrons on the water.

We also enjoyed some bread and jam. A bit too much you could say...

We waited around the dock and enjoyed the calm before our boat came to collect us and ferry us back to Puno.

Once we arrive back, we decided to head straight back to Copacabana, across the border. We had only been in Peru a little over 24 hours, but strangely it felt like a substantial experience. Definitely worth it!

A few bus journeys later and we were back at that stone arch, with a slight bit of sunburn and an extra stamp in our passport.

It sort of felt like the whole thing never happened really, it was that short!

Short and sweet - it's not entirely a bad thing!

Thanks for reading! 

Anthony :)



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