Tour Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world and the largest in South America. Tour the floating islands of Uros and ride on the reed boats. Fly to Lima.
Another early start today. Alarm at 4.30 am, breakfast at about 5.15 am (first in there) and then meeting in the foyer at 6.45 am for our boat ride to Uros Island, the floating reed islands.
The view from our room is really nice, overlooking the lake. We didn't appreciate it last night as we arrived in the dark.
It was quite overcast and cool but everyone is rugged up. It was only a very short ride to the island and we were met by this lovely lady. Amparo has a slight tummy upset this morning so she is not accompanying us. Eduardo, the local guide is looking after us this morning.
We sat in a semi circle (and got slightly damp bottoms) and learnt about the islands and how they make new ones. The islands are all anchored. Eduardo told us that once he was bringing people out to the islands and they weren't there. They had moved! He said if a family has a dispute with another group, they can just cut off their part of the island and move on.
With the education of their children, it is estimated that in about 25 years, this civilization will die out, which would be such a shame as it is such a unique culture. However, a very hard life - not many creature comforts, eg no hot and cold running water, no heating in their homes.
We went into the Head Man's home, Hymie and met his wife Elsa. They have one child, a 12 year old daughter who attends school in Puno. They all sleep in the one bed under 12 blankets. Unfortunately, when all these children are educated, they will want to find their way in the world and not come back to the islands.
We bought a reed mobile, which cost us $15AUD which is the dearest mobile I have ever bought, but we all looked upon it as a donation to the community. As we left the island, these ladies sang "row, row, row your boat" ... very cute!
We went on a ride on a reed boat to another island and as Phil was getting off he slipped and landed on the edge of the reeds and almost rolled into the lake. I wish I'd had my camera ready! And he had on his brand new baby Alpaca jumper!
As we finished on the islands with a bit of time to spare, we called into another island where the primary school is. We were there at about 8.50 am and the teacher had not arrived. She was supposed to be there at 8.00 am. About seven children were entertaining themselves, the boys fishing and the girls just running around - all dressed in their local costumes, BUT WITH BARE FEET! It was really chilly and the reeds were damp.
Luckily some of our group had some lollies and pens in their packs so the children all gathered around, grabbing and snatching. Some were asking for money, but Eduardo said no money. Can you imagine seven children, ranging in age from about 5 to 10 ALONE on a floating island in Australia? It wouldn't happen!
We were back at the hotel wharf and surprise, surprise, our bus was waiting to take us back up the small hill, to save us walking back up the path. Thank you Scenic.
We were on the bus at 10 am for the hour drive to the airport at Juliaco. In honour of this being our last day with the group, they let us sit in the front seat. It was interesting to take the road because yesterday we came in via the train. The road is long and straight and flat. Phil read the poem "McDougall Tops the Score".
Here is a photo of one of the stall holders, parked on the railway line. She would have to move at least two times a day when the train comes. Crazy!
This is the anniversary of the bus company. Amparo says they celebrate the anniversary of absolutely everything in South America.
We arrived at quite a small airport. Apparently it is an international airport with a long runway, but no international flights land or take off from here at the moment.
She told us to go quickly to the queue as there was a big bus behind us and this airport is notoriously slow at check in. She wasn't wrong and to make matters worse, the computers were down so a lot of it was being done by checking lists and hand writing a lot of stuff. We were pretty close to the head of the queue, but by now the rest of the queue was out the door.
Then because a touist had tried to smuggle something a few days ago, they started checking our big check in bags. John and Jenny and John and Byron had theirs checked but it was so ridiculous because the staff were going through the motions and not really checking much at all.
We took a long time at check in because she couldn't find us on the list and then we realised she was looking at the wrong list! I hope our luggage got on the right plane!
Because our flight was delayed, an announcement was made, only in Spanish, that a free drink was available at the kiosk. Thank goodness for Amparo who can understand Spanish. Also, Scenic had arranged for the hotel to pack a lunch box for us. Scenic usually don't like doing this because they are usually pretty awful, but as lunch boxes go, this one was really nice. There were two ham and cheese croissants and a banana.
Our 1.10 pm flight left at 2.40 pm. We will be landing at Cusco then continuing on to Lima.
Landed at Cusco at 3.20 pm. Those who were getting off got off and we stayed on board and took off again at 4.00 pm.
We were planning to meet "the gang" in the bar area for a farewell drink/meal at 6.30 pm but as we didn't arrive until 6.45 we decided to go to our rooms, freshen up and meet at about 7.15. I was dying to take my boots and socks off because my feet were getting really hot in the humidity of Lima and my bites were starting to become very itchy and were driving me crazy.
We went down to the bar and every member of our group was there, which was really nice. Because we missed lunch, Scenic had given each one of us $20USD to be spent at the bar in the Swissotel Lima, so we all had drinks and dinner. Phil read "Green and Gold Malaria" by Rupert McColl and a few speeches were made and then our group sang "For They are Jolly Good Fellows" to us. It was SO nice and very emotional. We are going to miss them very much. They are such a great group - the best we have ever had.
When we went to settle the bill, we discovered we had a lot of American dollars left, so we went back to the bar with Maria and Leong and Phil had a G&T and I had a Pisco Sour with Cranberry juice, which was very yummy.
Did final packing and into bed by 11.00 pm for a 5.30 am wake up call in the morning.