Friday, 20 February 2015

Puno & The Floating Island of Uros – Lake Titicaca

Reaching Puno at 5am in the morning I ignored all the touts at the bus station and headed out of the bus station relying on my sense of direction to find the main plaza. Some locals I asked along the way for the main plaza and they nicely pointed me in the right direction. I however did got caught by a nice tout along the way to the plaza. He was waiting in the middle of nowhere I guess he knew to catch tourist walking around lost easier than trying to catch the fishes at the bus stop.

Elantris I would call him was a nice tout thou never trying to rip me off too much. He did try in the beginning but once he learned I was not Japanese nor Chinese from China his price was more reasonable. Since I was not dead on going dirt cheap I followed him while battering the price of the hostel down along the way.
25 Sols for a single bed with attached bathroom. Good price, Elantris said.
I said no for I was having 17 sols in Cusco for a single bed but without attached bathroom. 20 sols he said …. Sure why not but let’s have a look at the place first ok?
The hostel is actually an inn or B&B which is quite common. I took his offer of 20 Sols for the night and even succumbed to buying a tour from him, half day to floating island Uros for 25 sols. Puno is really just worth one day visit. Not much to do but a nice place to slow down.
Things to do in Puno included visiting the main square, walk around, visit the floating island and change money. I mean it … change your Peruvian sol to Boliviano here in Puno. I was shocked for I checked the internet rates before hand and it was 1 sol = 2.25 Bol but the money changer gave me an exchange rate of 2.5 I dumped 80 Sols and kept the balance being careful to not run out of Sols before I really get to Bolivia. At the border the next day I dumped all the Sol I had which was 14 Sols for 30 Bol …. Exchange of about 2.1

Floating Island Uros
Interesting as it is, I hated the tour. The tour guide speaks English, Spanish and the local language and explain to us about Lake Titicaca giving us all the data and facts about the lake. The highest navigable lake in the world, blab la bla length, width, depth ….. blab la bla … I was sleepy from the overnight bus ride.
Floating Island of Uros - Lake Titicaca

Miniature Model of the Floating Island 
First stop at the floating island showing us how the community live. The so called president of the community greeted us and I notice he was the only man there young as he was. A presentation was made of the floating island and how the culture and community live. Four families for that little island we stopped, local food of reed, fish, how the island floats and a visit into the huts or houses, the kids all around us, laughing and just playing around happy to see strangers.

Kids being kids ....
So cute, they would sit next to you during presentation and then after pull you by holding your hand to visit their huts. So innocent …. Till one of them ask for money

the boy could barely even be 5 years old ….

I was shocked and disgusted at the same time. It’s all good and fine when the adults try to sell you souvenir and try to sell you a boat ride on the traditional reed boat but when a kid asked you for money …. I had enough of the tour …
More stops of the same nature and the group of us just ignored everything and even stopped taking photos …. Just look and observed and eventually the guide got the hint and brought us back to Puno. 


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