Bethany's Great Escape travel blog

Today, apparently, Saturday. I didn{t realize this important point until I noticed that most of the businesses around here are closed. It puts a wrinkle in my plans, but only a small one.

This morning, I wanted to run some errands and also take a tour of the floating islands - the Uros Islands. So I got up and had breakfast before taking off. Breakfast was the normal bread and jam, but when the woman listed all the hot drinks I could choose from, she listed a tea I had never heard of. I figured I might as well try something new, so I ordered that, and instead of bringing me a tea bag, the woman came back with a hand full of herbs. I like the idea of just throwing herbs straight into hot water to make infusions. It was really good, too, although I can{t remember what it was called. And unfortunately I don{t have a discriminating enough pallate to know if I have had it by an English name.

I{m enjoying trying new things. A few days back I tried shish kabobs made of alpaca meat, and they were really really good. Before I go back to the states, I want to try guinea pig. I almost ordered it at one restaurant, but it was 50 soles! That{s about $16. No thanks. There are tons of cuyerias around in smaller towns where I could probably get the same thing without the touristy prices.

So, back to the islands. After breakfast, I took a taxi (which was basically a tricycle with a place for passengers to sit) and went to the docks. There I found a boat, and hitched a ride with a bunch of sort of local tourists to see the islands. I was the only tourist on the boat who wasn{t from somewhere nearby. All the other tourists were Andean, even speaking some Quechua. So it wasn{t your typical tour. The boat took us to some islands about 30 minutes from Puno. The islands are literally floating, since their inhabitants constructed them from layer upon layer of reeds. The houses and boats are also made of reeds, and they have to be periodically replaced when the rot. Despite this, they have solar panels on the roof to power theri TVS and radios. It was all very strange to me. Getting out and walking around felt, well, like walking on a pile of straw. Because that{s what it was! And the funniest thing to me is that the islands are anchored so that if neighbors aren{t getting along, they pull up anchor and float away from each other! Actually, that{s kind of how the islands started. The local people built the islands a long time ago to avoid battles with aggressive neighbors on land.

Tomorrow I plan to go to another island (a natural one this time!) called Isla Taquile. You can go for a day, but apparently you really have to rush to see everything before the boat leaves to go back. So I am going to try to stay on the island so that I can take my time. It shouldn{t be a problem. Some of the locals have guest houses, so I hope to stay with them.

When I get back the day after tomorrow it will late, so I won{t have time to do much in Puno. On Tuesday morning I plan to go to the Bolivian consulate and see if I can get a visa to enter. I had hoped to get a visa today, but of course the office is closed. That means I will miss the bus on Tuesday morning. Oh well. Minor problem. I will just have to take one of the minibuses to the border and then walk across. A little less convenient, but it should still be pretty easy.

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