Me, my father and my daughter at Titicaca – Uros Floating Islands
Few months ago, my father came to visit us for a month.
He is crazy about the kids but he can only stay with them for like… no more than two hours. After five days of staying nearby the house he wanted to go… just go… and this way he chose to visit Machu Picchu. As it was too much for me to see it two times in one year, I decided to buy him a trip and go by himself to Machu Picchu. Anyway, the story is that I’ve lost my father, the bus broke on the way to Ollantaytambo, he lost the train to Aguas Calientes, without speaking Spanish or English, just Romanian, it really gave me headaches until I found him. To avoid another lost in translation episode, in his next planned trips we chose that I and my eldest daughter, Carla, who is 11, to accompany him. So, for the next 5 days we were in a touristic Forrest Gump scene. We left Cusco at 10 pm with a night bus. 160 degrees reclinable seats, 6 hours drive, we slept like bears. 4-5 am, we were in Puno Bus station.
We set for breakfast and for the sunrise at the first floor in the restaurant from Puno Bus station. The buses parking lot resides beside Titicaca lake and from the first floor of the station you can have a nice view of the sunrise. Anyway, 7 am, we booked a half day trip to Uros floating islands.
We were in a hurry because my father was experiencing breathing problems because of the high altitude and the plan was to take a quick shot at Titicaca lake and Uros touristical sites and in the same day to take a bus to Arequipa, to a lower altitude. And we did.
9.00 am. Transfer to the Port of Puno from bus station. We embarked on a beautiful motor boat and after a 30 minutes journey amongst the reeds, we arrived to Uros islands at 3810 meters above sea level. An amazing archipelago of more than 60 manmade floating islands inhabited by the Uros, an ethnic group of fishermen, part of an ancestral group.
Very few is known about their origins, a tradition tells that Uros are “pukinas” who speak Uro or Pukina and that believe they are the owners of the lake and water. Uros used to say that they have black blood because they did not feel the cold. The Uros traded with the Aymara tribe on the mainland, intermarrying with them and eventually abandoning the Uro language for that of the Aymara. About 500 years ago they lost their original language.
Some people think of them as artificial and acting for tourists. Yes, mostly they are. But in the same time I find them very authentic, they are acting their own culture and I was happy that they are doing it. Their culture is authentic, and the history of why and how they live amongst the reeds is fascinating. After a technical construction theory of the islands, an artisan market, visiting 2-3 islands, one on which you can eat fresh trout, we were back in the port at 12:30. As my father was breathing more and more like Dark Vader we jumped in the first bus to Arequipa.
6 Hours drive and Arequipa was putting on her evening dress for us. Just one block away from Plaza del Armas (is the name for the main square in many South American cities.), we found a cheap and nice hotel (you can check it out here!). And when I’m saying cheap I mean 25 USD for a triple. Private bathroom, hot shower and free wi-fi. I was dreaming for a real bed thinking that tomorrow morning at 9.00 am we start over, heading to Colca canyon. Carla loves trips and adventures and all of these were to her very high amusement. Booked in the same night, for the next day a two day tour to the one of the deepest canyons in the world with a depth of 10,725 ft (3,270 m). Twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the United States! The canyon is also home to the Andean condor. How high it flew over our heads and why this measurement counts, in the next episode.