Floating village of Uros, Lake Titikaka
After finishing the Inca Trail and visiting Machu Picchu, our group had a nice meal and a few drinks in the town of Aguas Calientes before taking the train and a bus back to Cuzco. We were all in quite good spirits after finishing the trek so there was lots of singing and joking on the train. On the train I met a guy from California named Scott, who told me his group was going down to Lake Titikaka, so maybe we would see each other.
When you hike the Inca Trail you have no choice but to become very close with those you're hiking with, so the 16 of us became good pals. Back in Cuzco we had a farewell dinner and, as most of us were leaving the next day, said our goodbyes - with some people flying home, others to Ecuador, Colombia or wherever, and me down south to do a homestay at Lake Titikaka. I made arrangements with one cool British chick to meet up in Costa Rica - she lives there and teaches English so we will go for a surf and have a night out. That's the beauty of meeting new people while traveling.
The next morning I packed my bags and said my final goodbyes, except that I wasn't leaving until the next day, which I didn't realize until I got to the airport. Oops. Fortunately the airport in Cuzco is in town, cheap and easy to get to, so I walked right out and returned to my hotel. It turns out I had an extra day in Cuzco (which I had really wanted) and spent it with others who had the day there as well. That night the Irish couple from our group invited me out for drinks at their hostel which turned into quite a night, i.e. they drank me under the fookin table. Combine happy hour, beer pong, mini Guinness shots, tequila shots and being at 13,000 feet above sea level, and you can imagine that my flight from Cuzco to Juliaca the next morning really, really sucked. My fault though. Of course the Irish folks and I made plans to do it all over again in Dublin someday. If hangovers are the only illness I get on this trip I will be one lucky chica. So far so good.
After a quick flight and a very bumpy bus ride to Puno (ow my head) I checked into my hotel and promptly went to sleep, getting up only to get some dinner and watch Spanish TV. I thought about going out to try and make friends but I was being picked up by another tour group the next morning so really couldn't be bothered. After all, I've been going hard the past few weeks so I felt one night of pizza and TV was acceptable.
The next morning I woke up feeling like a million bucks, had the free hotel breakfast (which I'm a huge fan of) and got picked up by a tricycle bike taxi (scary) to meet up with my group. Sure enough, when I met up with my new group it was Scott and his pack of Brits and Aussies that I was to do the homestay with. They have all been traveling together for months but it wasn't too hard to fit in and make some new friends.
If these people have solar then you should too. No excuses!
Our first stop was the floating village of Uros. These people live on legitimate floating islands made of roots and reeds. Walking on the island felt like walking on a water bed but I could sit on the ground without getting my butt wet. We chatted with the local family, learned about their way of life, bought trinkets and went for a little reed boat ride. What I was most impressed with was the fact that these little reed huts had solar panels installed on the thatch roofs, and inverters and small battery banks inside. I figured the solar panels improved quality of life because now these people could watch TV if they wanted, but later in the day I learned of the greater impact solar has had on these people's lives.
While this could possibly be one of the weirdest places I have ever visited, I'm glad I did because I can't imagine people will continue to live this way much longer, even if solar panels are one of the few modern conveniences they currently have. And so, after the quick visit we headed off on the boat again for a three hour boat ride to the island of Amantani (where this post began).