After my 3 day trek in the Colca Canyon it was back to Arequipa for a night, and it was so fun! I made some amazing friends on my hike and to be honest these guys and gals made all future group hikes pale in comparison. Some of the best people ever! We all met up for dinner and drinks to celebrate our accomplishment before taking off on our separate ways, at least for now.
A few of us were on the bus the next morning heading to Puno, the city built next to Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable alpine lake. I was only there for a short stop in the afternoon and took a boat tour out to the floating islands. These islands are inhabited by the Uro people and are pretty incredible. The Uro use bundles of dried Tortora reeds to make reed boats (balsas), and to make the islands themselves. The larger islands house about ten families, while smaller ones, only about thirty meters wide, house only two or three families.
When we arrived to the island and stepped out on to “land” it felt so weird. It was strange to feel the reeds under your feet. The ground felt very soft and almost squishy. One of the leaders of the particular island we were on showed us how they make the islands. Everything from the ground we were walking on to the boats they use to get to and from other islands, to their homes and restaurants (for the tourists) even their shower houses were made from these reeds. You can eat the insides of the reeds, which I tried but they didn’t taste like much. Some of the boats have evolved and they are now using plastic bottles to help reinforce the boat so they can hold more weight and they will last much much longer. Like many places in Peru these islands have become a destination for tourists. You even have the option to stay with a family for the night. Personally I was happy to not stay the night, I would have froze! But I’m sure it would have been a great learning experience. The company I did my tour with said that they go to different islands each day so that they are spreading the wealth. Many of the Uro people on the islands work with textiles so there was a lot of shopping you could do while you visit.
After my boat tour it was back to town to explore a little. I had dinner with a few people from my Colca Canyon tour who were staying in Puno for the night. We ventured to a Poleria, a chicken place. The fancy more expensive tourist part was at the front, but if you head to the back of the restaurant where the locals go it was awesome rotisserie chicken and fries. Best couple bucks I’ve spent on food.
I had to say goodbye to my new friends for now and head back to the hostel which was the meeting place for Peru Hop to head out on another night bus. This time by morning I would arrive in Cusco! My final destination for the next month. This night bus was much less scary than the previous one, thank goodness. I’m not sure I could have survived another like that one. We arrived very early in the morning again, they had arranged taxis to take us to our respective hostels and hotels. I arrived to Healing House and woke up a guest (the house keeper was supposed to be there but I arrived before her) who let me in and I was able to hang out in the kitchen until reception opened and I could get into my room. Once there I dropped my bags and crawled into bed for a few hours.
When I woke up I met my roomie Michele who i learned was also taking the yoga teacher training and she was there from Switzerland. She was super sweet! And spoke more Spanish than me. It’s always nice to have someone nearby who speaks the local language. We hit it off right away and did something I needed to do desperately ... get laundry done! We dropped it off and the gentleman promised it would be ready later that day. We decided to go off and tour a bit of Cusco, we both needed to go to the bank so we trotted off to the Plaza des Armas where we met a German girl who had been living in Cusco a few years ago and had just returned. So she gave us a bit of a tour and helped us do some shopping at the “good spots”. It was one of those very chill spontaneous kind of travel days.
I had one more day to chill out in Cusco before my Yoga Teacher Training started so I slept in a little, took a yoga class and went on a free walking tour of the historic area in Cusco. I thought it would be a good idea to get the lay of the land. There are a few different companies that offer free tours. They leave from the Plaza des Armas a few times each day, you just have to show up a few minutes before departure time to get placed into a group. It was an informative little tour and I got to find a few places that I knew I’d want to come back to and explore more.
Stay tuned for my month of Yoga Teacher Training, and my trek to Machu Picchu. Xo