Wow that was some hangover…Cusco, more to the point, Loki our ‘party hostel’ had really taken it’s toll. After a lot of drinking, dancing and slurred conversations the night ended rather abruptly for us as I (Mike), had an appointment with the inside of a toilet bowl and my bed which I simply couldn’t miss. To be fair – Grace wasn’t far behind me in the drunken stakes…
As you can imagine this day was not a good day for an 8 hour bus ride – however we decided to haul arse out of Cusco and head South to Puno (small town on the shores of lake Titicaca). After saying some fond farewells we headed to the bus station with Luke (a guy we had met the evening before) and boarded one of the first buses out of Cusco. The three of us chatted for pretty much the entire journey, making the 8 hours seemingly fly by. There was only a brief break in conversation when the combination of hangover and windy roads got the better of me. By the time I realised it was almost too late, I dashed towards the tiny bus toilet only to find it occupied. After a few seconds passed the toilet luckily became free – however at this point I was too far gone, I took one step into the cubicle and repainted the entire back wall a deep shade of orange…not my finest moment I agree…With that out of my system I felt remarkably better and joined back into the conversation after a quick clean up operation.
We finally made it to Puno an hour or so late where we said goodbye to Luke – we headed straight for our hostel and after bartering on the price of a night’s stay we hit the hay. The hostel itself was ran by the nicest little Peruvian man we have had the pleasure of meeting. However it was also one of the weirdest and slightly creepy hostels to date. With long dark corridors, masses of empty communal rooms, showers and toilets with no doors we questioned our decision to stay there many times…However being too lazy to move we settled in for 3 nights.
Instant noodles are quickly becoming part of our staple diet, they are quick and easy to cook and require next to no washing up – perfect. So we bought a couple of packs one evening and asked where we could find the kitchen. The hostel owner kindly showed us towards the kitchen pointing at a rather small cupboard under the stairs…sure enough, we popped open the door to reveal the smallest ‘kitchen’ you have ever seen. As you can imagine it wasn’t the best stocked kitchen in the world – Grace and I actually resorted to eating out of tea cups for both breakfast and dinner for at least 3 days…rather bizzare…
As I have said, Puno is a small border town situated on the shores of Lake Titicaca, lying at 3880m it is actually the World’s highest navigable lake. We spent some time meandering around Puno tasting the local empanada’s and cakes before heading on a boat trip to the Uros Islands. This island chain is made up of nearly 80 floating islands that are created entirely out of reeds that grow naturally in the lake. Our visit was only brief but very informative – we learnt how the islands are formed by grouping together the floating roots of the reeds before layer after layer of the plants are woven on top of the base to form the floating Island. The locals then anchor the island to stop it drifting and begin building their houses and even a school entirely from the reed like plant. Although the whole experience is super touristy it was still great to see, especially fascinating when a boat passes causing the small waves to wobble the tiny islands – you can actually see the ground ripple beneath your feet.
Copacabana is another small town nestled on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca, it is actually The original Copacabana – the Brazilians borrowed its name for the uber famous beach in Rio. Crossing the border was fairly simple, apart from a small exchange of words between a grumpy Bolivian border guard and Mike who had made a mistake on his immigration card.
When we arrived we had a little stroll around town and the beach- the weather was great and at this point the Lake actually had waves making it feel even more like we were at the sea side.
Later that evening, on our way out for dinner we came across a parade made up of a marching band and traditionally dressed indigenous locals dancing in lines. We had seen them all drinking in the square at lunch time and they were still hitting it hard in the evening on our way back from dinner. Needless to say, they were all smashed! One man was even managing to play the tuba and drink beer at the same time- it’s amazing that men can suddenly multitask when alcohol is involved. We even saw a woman with a baby strapped to her back trying to break up a drunken fight – crazy locals.
Our dinner that night was pretty great and guilt free as Bolivia is so cheap that cooking in is almost as much money. Despite the lush weather in the day the nights get bitterly cold due to the high altitude so we wrapped up warm for dinner with a view. This turned out to be a good decision as there was an amazing lightning storm over the lake, providing our dinner time entertainment.
The following day we took a boat out to Isla del Sol- an island on Lake Titicaca believed to be the birth place of the sun in Inca mythology and where the first Incas made their mystical appearance. On the way there, while sunbathing on the top of the boat, we met some other travellers, most of whom knew each other already. They had similar plans for the island so we decided to all go together and ended up in a group of 8 (3 Frenchies, a German, a Yank, a Dutch girl and us).
The boat dropped us of at the north of the island where we climbed up a mountain to see some ruins and an incredible sunset which we enjoyed with a bottle of rum. We probably enjoyed it a bit too much; we ended up taking the wrong route, meaning we had to cut across a steep cliff face without a path. To top matters off we had run out of sunlight so this all happened in complete darkness- thank goodness for head torches!
We managed to find a tiny hostel in the village we scrambled to but unfortunately it was a bit of a tight squeeze with only 6 beds for 8 of us. Mike and I ended up sharing and one of the French guys had to sleep on the floor. It turned out to be a great night though. There was nowhere in the village that served dinner so we ended up cooking a group meal of pasta with tomato puree and sardines – yummy (Grace had a snickers instead!). We washed it down with ample amounts of beer, rum and wine whilst playing cards.
Although super fun, our late night didn’t seem such a great idea when we woke at 5am to see the sunrise, at least we didn’t have to go far to see it though. Our rooms were perched on a hill top overlooking the east side of the lake – amazing! After a couple more hours sleep we had breakfast with the same incredible views, the deep blue lake glistening in the sun with a backdrop of snow-capped mountains.
We then headed South towards a tiny village where the boat would eventually pick us up again. The whole way the views were insane, at some points you could see both sides of the lake at the same time, overlooking both Bolivia and Peru. When we got there we cooled off by diving into the lake and having a swim. After we dried off we went for lunch, but not before a local rallied the help of the guys to load up her donkey. Mike lifted a gas tank and numerous other heavy goods onto the donkey whilst the lady tightened the strap so hard the donkey farted. She literally squeezed the shit out of it!! Everyone was in hysterics including her…
As the rest of the guys we met were heading in the opposite direction we said our goodbyes back in Copacabana and shared a plate of nachos with all the trimmings as lunch was so bad – so bad it’s what we think made Grace ill for the remainder of the evening and the next day, delaying our trip to La Paz. It did mean we got to see another huge lightning storm which caused a black out in town and a rather romantic candlelight dinner.
- Lake Titicaca and the Uros Floating Islands – Puno, Peru (travelpod.com)
- The Lake with the Funny Name (gingerontheroad.wordpress.com)