|Hi everyone, I know it has been some time but it can be difficult to get to an Internet cafe. Anyway lots of news to fill you in on so grab a cuppa sit back and enjoy. First town I visited on my second tour was Puno. Really enjoyed the bus ride from La Paz to Puno. Lots of fantastic landscape and interesting sights to see along the way. The mountains of South America are so beautiful and the people even more so. Joining us today was Thomas from Canada 24 first big trip abroad, Monica from Australia 25 does a lot of travelling has Irish family in Waterford whom she visits a lot. She is my new room mate and she is very cool. There is also her friend who is travelling with her, Gabrielle who at the moment is quite sick so haven't had a chance to get to really know her and as you will discover in my journal I never really got to know her at all. She ended up leaving the tour in Cuzco and heading to a clinic in Lima and where she is now no one knows not even Monica. On our way to Puno we stop in a little town called Copacabana where we have a fish lunch. Nice to have fresh fish for a change, trout, was delicious. Then we had to cross Lake Titicaca on a boat and our bus caught a ferry. We finally get to Puno around 6 in the evening. We take a walk around the town check out all the local amenities. We have to go to a local food market to buy gifts for our homestay family. We are allowed to spend no more than 20 soles which is about 5 euros. Myself and Monica bought our family, flour, rice, pasta, olive oil and a large tin of fruit. Wanted to buy more but its not allowed. Colin suggests (Colin and Leanne from the first trip along with Nina are with me to La Paz) we go for some drinks before dinner. We try the local Peru drink Pisco sour. Nice but very strong. Couple of those and I could be on me ear! After one drink Gabrielle and Nina head back to the hotel. The rest of us head to Positive a Rock bar. The bar is pretty cool. Lots of photos and notes from visitors to the bar all over the walls and ceilings. Enjoy a few cocktails and play Jenga. Carla tells us that instead of going to another place for dinner we could order pizza from the restaurant next door and have it delivered to our table. This will prevent any disturbance to our drinking. Wish it was like that in Dublin. Sit in a bar and just order in your food from any restaurant you like. The next day was our boat trip on Lake Titicaca and our visit to the floating islands before arriving on Armanati Island for our homestay. Waiting outside our hotel was our tuk tuks to take us to the port. Myself and Monica had such great craic in ours. We were getting our driver to race against the others. It was mental weaving in and out of cars and over train tracks. At one stage I thought we were going to over turn but our driver was a professional so it was all good. I think we came last but it was good fun all the same. First stop was the floating islands. These islands are made out of reeds, each island is built on the river bed with layers and layers of reed put on top. The homes are built out of reeds in fact everything on the island is practically made out of reeds. After our guide talks us through the way of life for the islanders we are allowed to go into their homes and then go off to explore the rest of the island. For those interested about five families live on the island. Anyone who does not pull their weight or do their share of work they are removed from the island or the home is cut off from the island and they are sent off floating alone. The men fish and shoot ducks for food. The women go off the island once a week generally a Sunday to the market where they barter the products they have made for other foods such as rice, quin etc. The children are schooled on the island but when it is time for secondary school they are sent to the mainland. It was really interesting. Afterwards were given a guided tour of all the other islands on a reed boat. It was then onto our homestay on Armanati Island. When we arrived at the port of the island there was a large number of women waiting for us. We were then each allocated a homestay mother. Ours was Olga, she had a lovely smile so it put me at ease, as you can imagine I was feeling a little nervous, staying in a strangers home and not speaking their language. Although the walk to her house was only 15-20 minutes it was very difficult. Apart from being uphill the altitude made it very difficult to breath (4500 above sea level) and I had to keep stopping every few minutes. Lord only knows what Olga thought. I was delighted when we finally arrived at her home. When we arrived she introduced us to her daughter Maiyma who was five and very adorable. She also had a son Alonso but we didn't get to spend much time with him. We helped her prepare lunch by peeling a few vegetables. As they don't eat meat on the island (its only for special occasions as it is very expensive) we had a vegetable soup with quinoa followed by rice, with cucumber and fried cheese. After lunch we went off to explore with Maiyma. She brought us to visit her cousin Jeannette next door. I played jacks and skipping with them. Later on she brought us to the local square where some of the group played football against the locals. After the football some of the more braver members of our group went for a hike to the top of the island. Before dinner we were allowed to rest. Dinner again was a vegetable soup followed by rice with a vegetable stew and some local mint tea. Our homestay mothers then helped us get dressed in local clothes for the fiesta. Every family brought their visitors to the main hall. The locals played music and our families got us up to dance with them. I must say the dancing was tough very long songs with very energetic dancing and with the altitude I was exhausted. On our way home there was the beginning of a thunder and lightening storm. We just made it to bed before the heavens opened and it lashed down. The sound of rain on our bedroom roof was very loud. Thankfully by the morning it cleared and we had a fairly easy sail to our next island Taquille. I chilled out on the boat while the rest of the group went off to explore and enjoy a hike on the island. (Come on I am on holidays some chilling out and sunbathing was the order of the day) Once they got back it was homeward bound to Puno for our last night there before heading off to our next stop Cuzco!