• Day29

    The Journey to Mysterious Uros

    May 26, 2018 in Peru ⋅ 🌙 7 °C

    Puno is a sprawling city of some 150,000 people, situated on the shores of the huge Lake Titicaca. The biggest challenge for any new visitor to this city is to survive on the rarefied atmosphere that you have to breathe at nearly 4000 metres above sea level. Even though we have now been living at high altitude for over 2 weeks, we still find that we regularly find ourselves short of breath. It is little wonder that our hotel has a large oxygen cylinder on hand in the foyer for anyone who really needs an oxygen boost.

    Our plan for today was to spend the morning visiting the famous floating islands of Uros. These amazing islands are entirely constructed of reeds and are home to around 2,000 indigenous Uru people. Just why they chose to live this strange lifestyle is open to debate, but the prevailing theory is that they retreated to the middle of the lake to survive attacks from the Quechuan (Inca) invaders, many hundreds of years ago.

    We were met at our hotel by our latest guide. She introduced herself with some completely unpronounceable name, but then said we could call her "Sue". That seemed entirely sensible. After a short bus trip to the port we boarded a private boat for a 30 minute ride to the Uros Islands. Just like every previous day we have had in South America, the sky was cloudless and the conditions were completely still. In other words, a perfect day for a cruise on this huge inland waterway.

    Our journey took us along a channel cut through the huge expanse of reeds and soon we were docking on one of the islands. Some of the local ladies welcomed us aboard as we sank into the soft carpet of reeds that bounced under our feet. The local people have an almost childlike manner and seemed genuinely pleased to see us (and hopefully not just because they wanted us to buy their handicrafts).

    Nearby we could numerous other floating islands, each one liberally dotted with dozens of tiny reed huts. It seems that everything here is made of reeds - the locals even eat them like candy. After an explanation as to how the islands are constructed we were ushered two at a time into individual huts to "spend time" with the owners. This was mainly an opportunity to sell their handwork, but the pressure was not too overwhelming and we all thoroughly enjoyed the unique experience.

    Our visit to the islands was completed by a journey in a reed boat to one of the nearby islands. This was a lot of fun and the warm sunshine really served to make this day a highlight of our adventure so far.

    Soon we were motoring back to Puno and an opportunity to have a free afternoon. I chose to do my favourite pastime while travelling - people watching. I wandered around the city for a most enjoyable couple of hours, stopping at various locations to sit in the warm sunshine and observe the people around me.

    Tomorrow we resume our Peruvian Odyssey as we progress to the lovely city of Arequipa. Our journey will take us even higher into the Andes. I wonder if the bus will be equipped with oxygen ?
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