For the first time since arriving in Peru, we turned up at our hostel at a sociable hour. Marlon´s house, located near the centre of Puno, is a really comfortable and quietly social hostel, with only two minor niggles. The first was our room, which was on the fourth floor, and required us to traipse up what seemed like endless flights of stairs. This would not normally be a huge problem, but we were at a rather high altitude ( 3827 meters ), and every time I reached my room I felt like I was going to pass out with exhaustion. The second “niggle” has been a constant battle: freezing cold showers! Despite claiming to have lovely, hot water, I was left shivering and goose-pimpled every time I stuck my head under the godforsaken shower head.
After a nice, long sleep, we woke up bright and shiny and decided to visit the Islas Uros (Floating Islands) on Lake Titicaca. For only 20 soles (about five pounds), we floated along the calm and beautiful waters of Lake Titicaca, surrounded by colossal mountains and dramatic cloud formations, towards one of several floating Islands. The Islands, and much of their contents, including houses and boats, are made with reeds. The Islands themselves are about one and a half meters thick, and are constructed by tieing together thick blocks of mud and criss-crossing reads. Each Island is normally inhabited by two or thee families.
At the first Island we visited, Emma and I donned some brightly coloured traditional Quechua clothing, which looked rather fetching if I do say so myself. After this, we boarded one of the reed boats, which take about a month to construct, and were taken to another of the Floating Islands. The boat looked something like a banana, and silently floated towards the second Island as we basked in the blazing sunshine, feeling very serene.
At the nest Island, Emma was immediately drawn to a handbag at one of the stalls, and having purchased this we spent the next half an hour talking to the woman who ran the stall. Her name was Marisa and she was very beautiful, dressed in brightly coloured traditional clothing. She told us that bright colours signify a woman as single while darker colours show a woman is married. We talked a lot about marriage and life on the island. Interestingly, traditional values of marriage have changed somewhat due to its representation on TV. For example, women over the age of 27 were considered unmarriageable until quite recently. Now, women have much more independence and are able to travel to Puno and go to University if they do so desire. Also, in the past it was the bride´s father who decided who she would marry whereas now she can choose her partner for herself. Once the women have found a marriage partner, they can move to his Island or he can live with her, depending on what they decide as a couple.
After some time on the Island, we bid farewell to Marisa and were taken back to Puno. We spent the afternoon wandering around the city. Honestly, I thought Puno was rather uninspiring and very dirty. There was little to do and we ended up going back to the hostel early in the afternoon. The evening was far more interesting as we went for a meal with Tia, who we had met in Arequipa, and her friend, Kiera. After a couple of Pisco sours, we got into a very heated discussion over the relationship between Britain and America (where Tia and Kiera lived). Shockingly, Kiera was under the impression that England is very fond of America and was rather taken aback when we told her this was not so. We came to the conclusion that although many British people liked American people individually, England feels that the collective American population are infuriating and deserving of their mockery. Although I try to avoid making generalisations, it is difficult not to when discussing Americans.
Later that evening it was time to pack for our final stop before our flight to Lima: the exciting and archaeologically rich city of Cusco. Here we were to stay in one of the infamous party hostels of the city, Hostel Loci. Never could we have quite prepared for what was in store for us.