Posted by: M.J. Bolstad | August 13, 2018

Peru-ving Myself a Traveler Again: Entry #5

I’m sitting in my cozy room in the Intiqa Hotel in Puno after a great day on Lake Titicaca. I woke up earlier than my alarm this morning, and was up every few hours in the night. Nothing to do with the hotel room – honestly, it’s comfortable and quiet and I don’t know what the blanket on the bed is made of, but it may be the softest thing I’ve ever touched. No, I woke up every few hours to blow my nose, because I definitely have caught a cold.  It makes it doubly hard to breathe at this altitude, but I made it.

My transfer came to pick me up and take me to the port for around 8 o’clock, where I made my way across a few boats to get to mine, a bit of a tricky feat if not for the helpful skippers on each who helped us step across. Then we were on our way on Lake Titicaca for our first stop, one of the Uros floating islands. They are very cool man-made islands, created by lashing together blocks of soil held together with reed roots, then more reeds stacked and restocked on top to keep above the water.

Floating Island

Floating islands made of reeds, boats made of reeds, and yes, they let me row it!

We spent a little time with the families on the island, as well as some on the boat made of reeds (with empty bottles inside for floatation). It was very lovely to be on the water in the sun, and my vigilance with the sunscreen and shade seems to have paid off.  We learned from our guide, Alex, not only about how the islands were created, but also about Lake Titicaca itself, which is a salt water lake and the name means “Puma Stone” as the shape resembles a puma, he said, at least if you “use your imagination (or drink a lot of Pisco Sour”).

After that, we were back on the water again to another of Uros Islands for a quick stop where I paid 1 sol to have my passport stamped and grabbed a bit of bread for a snack. Then it was back on the boat toward the Island of Taquile, which is on the bigger part of the lake. It was about an hour and a half, and I’ll admit I napped most of it. At Taquile, we walked up, up, up for 15 to 20 minutes in the hot sun. Between not being able to breathe through my nose and the altitude, I fear I sounded quite pitiful, and it is a bit embarrassing to be passed by the local men carrying heavy loads on their back, but I wasn’t the only one breathing heavily and I took comfort in that, and in making it to the top. There, we got to drift around the square and see local handicrafts, as the Taquila people are known for their weaving.


The women will weave for five to six hours in a day. Beautiful, intricate work, though hard on the back!

After that break, there was a little more walking to where we were treated to a textiles demonstration and a delicious lunch. There was bread with some spiced onions and tomatoes to put on top and quinoa soup, followed by the choice of omelette or trout. I normally don’t like a lot of fish, but though I should give it a try and am so so glad I did! It was incredibly delicious, with the salt and spice it was cooked in.


Beautiful views like this were a reward for taking the long walk to the next harbour!

After lunch, the group had the option of taking the long way to the harbour by foot, or returning down to the boat and taking it to meet the rest of the group. If you guessed that I took the shortcut… you’d lose whatever you wagered. No one else in the group was going to do it, and I’d done Machu Picchu, so I pressed on. It was a long walk – a good forty minutes – but most flat or downhill, so I did just fine, though I did have to take it slowly and my knees weren’t too happy with me. After that, we were back on the boat to Puno. I reapplied my sunscreen and let it sit for 20 minutes then made my way to the top of the boat, where I sat the rest of the journey until we had to come in to go to the port, letting the wind and spray hit me. It was perfect.

After that, it was back to the hotel by taxi through insane traffic (and roads seem to be a bit of a guideline here), where I rested a bit before heading to dinner at a place called La Casona, which had a good Trip Advisor score. It was very good, though I was less adventurous with this meal. I had a margarita pizza and a glass of wine, then a Dulce de Kiwicha (amaranth) for dessert. It was marvellous – as was the starter bread I got, for that matter. Now it’s off to bed soon and then back to Cuzco by bus tomorrow.  There likely won’t be an entry tomorrow as a result – I’m heading back the way I came and with fewer stops alone the way. And I’m not sure what I’ll get up to the next day, but hopefully just as wonderful!

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