Background: This month I'm in Cusco, seeing the city and volunteering at a school project for underprivileged, impoverished kids. This is an almost verbatim entry from the diary I'm keeping while I'm out here.
I wake up at 5:15 this morning, shower, get dressed and walk up to Recoleta where Katrina is staying. The lady at the travel agency (a massive Pink Floyd fan, incidentally) tells me to be at Katrina’s for 6:10 to be picked up. I get there about 5:50. 6:10 rolls around and no sign of the annoying American or our escort, so I ring the doorbell. Within a minute a disgruntled Katrina pops her head out of the window. We get picked up and make our way to the bus terminal in Cusco.
The bus journey to Puno is long, but is broken up by stops along the way. We find ourselves visiting a church, a small village, a restaurant and a plateau overlooking the mountains. The views are spectacular and the sights interesting, if a little touristy.
We arrive in Puno at around 4 in the afternoon. We drop our bags off at the hotel we’re staying in, and wonder out into the town for a spot of dinner.
The next morning is another early start, and we’re on the boat with the other tourists by 9:30. Our tour guide, a Quechan bloke called Angel, has this habit of inflecting upward at the end of his sentences, like everything he’s saying is a question. It’s very annoying.
We arrive on the floating islands of Uros; an expansive, man-made structure of houses sitting on constructed islands of earth beds and reeds. The islands are extremely impressive, but very touristy. I get the impression our entire trip will be like this.
After we leave the floating islands we begin the three hour boat ride out of the bay of Puno into the main Lake Titicaca itself. We get along well with a couple from Chicago; both physiotherapy students and both delightful company.
We arrive on another island. I can’t remember it’s name exactly, but it was something like Isla Mantaña. Unfortunately, the relationship with our host family is totally disparate and connecting with them at all is an impossible task. They give us a bizarre, heavily potato based lunch.
Katrina and I trek, with the other tourists, up to the top of the island. The altitude up here is nearly 4,000m, and hiking up a steep slope is very strenuous.
Upon reaching the top, the entire purpose of our trip is clear. The view is utterly remarkable. Lake stretches out into the distance, with the silhouettes of mountains carving a dark outline into the sky, as the sun sets and casts an orange glow onto the landscape.
The only thing more beautiful than the view are the stars that night. No electricity means no light pollution, and no light pollution means a stunning view of the night’s sky.
K and I gaze at the stars, and, exhausted, sleep.
The next morning we visit another island where we eat some fantastic trout in a restaurant with yet another brilliant vista.
We head back by boat to Puno. I get cocky - “Ahh I never get sunburnt!” - and promptly get sunburnt. Quiet coach journey home in the dead of night.
Lovely lunch with K the next day before she leaves back to New York. Leave her at her house. Back into Cusco.
What a wonderful few days.