THURSDAY 6th JULY 1989
The first job after breakfast today was to obtain more currency and to explore Puno. The exploring turned out to be easier than the currency part. There was a notable shortage of money changers on the streets and none of the banks we tried had a cambio. They all advised us to try El Banco Nationale, but El Banco Nationale turned out to be as elusive as the Canadian moose. Eventually we came across a money changer who would change cash, but I only had traveller's cheques.
At one point we found ourselves in a small square with lots of benches, and on each bench there were one or two men with small portable typewriters on their laps, typing letters or filling out forms for the local people,
We decided to make our way to the lake, but did not pick the best approach road, so that our first proper view of Lake Titacaca was from the middle of a rubbish tip surrounded by rooting pigs.
We doubled back and found our way to a small harbour, where we were approached by a tour operator selling trips to the floating islands. We signed up, and with the afternoon planned, headed back to town for lunch, and en-route also signed up for a day trip tomorrow.
We reported back to the dock at the appointed time and set off on the trip in a small wooden boat.
The Uros Indians live on floating islands, which are actually mats made from the reeds which grow densely in the lake. The Indians compress the reeds with their feet into more or less rigid surfaces, although quite a bit of movement can be felt when walking round on them. Several hundred Indians live in small huts, also made of the reeds, on dozens of these islands. We just visited two. They live by fishing and raising domestic fowl and a few vegetables, and make a little extra by selling lovely woven articles and souvenirs to the tourists. The Uros travel between the islands in tiny reed boats, which they also use for their occasional trips to town,
On the way back from the floating islands we stopped off at a lovely little island, a real one this time, with a delightful museum and wild chinchilla,
Back in town we eventually found El Banco Nationale, but it was closed by now, so I go to bed tonight deeply in debt.