Posted on September 9, 2015
Floating Islands of Puno
We had a few days to fill so we continued north for 3.5 hours by bus along the shoreline of Lake Titicaca until we reached Puno, Peru. Plus who doesn’t love a few more stamps in the passport, huh!
The floating islands of the Uros people were originally built as a defensive mechanism with the idea that they could move them if need be. All together there are approximately 42 different islands with around 10-30 people living on each one. The islands are build on floating blocks of reed roots and then reinforced with 3 alternating layers of fresh cut reeds. The whole thing is about 3m thick and the reeds need to be replaced every week. If built well the island can last up to 25 years before starting to sink. The specific island we visited housed 3 different families and the primary school. We opted for the opportunity to take a short ride in one of their ceremonial dragon reed boats and checked out a few of the other islands in the “neighborhood.”
Our afternoon was spent on beautiful Taquile Island which is a natural island with approximately 2,200 native people living on it. Their community is run by collectivism where everyone works for the good of the other islanders, pays taxes and does mandatory civil services. Taquileans are known for their handwoven clothing and textiles, and their culture is still deeply rooted in how they dress, celebrate and raise their families. We enjoyed a late lunch while watching a few locals perform a couple of their traditional dances for us. I guess not too surprising since the whole island is a basically a hill but there are no cars or donkeys on the island and everything must be carried on the locals backs. Some of the loads the older woman were carrying were unbelievable. I could hardly, and I mean hardly, make the 2.5km walk from one side of the island to the other just carrying myself. Again I would not make it as an Inca woman.
Back in Puno we found a great place for dinner that served Peruvian cuisine with a French twist. La Table Del Inca is worth dining at if you find yourself here.The next day we boarded a bus back to La Paz. We were told it would take 7 hours and there would be a bathroom on the 2 busses we would be riding on. Things never seem to go as planned. No bathrooms and we were unlucky enough to get on a bus with a group of 23 American missionary young adults who ALL needed to get Bolivian visas at the border. Please note we applied for ours months before leaving the States. The planned 30min border crossing, which was plenty of time for the other passengers and us to cross turned into a 2 hour ordeal. Ahhhhh, so frustrating as we just sat there and waited, half the time locked out of the bus in the freezing cold night. If you have a group of people that big, plan ahead just a little bit better please or at least make accommodations for private transportation. I can’t believe the bus waited for them.