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Tuesday 13th April 2010

Cusco and Lake Titicaca

Cusco is renowned for its party scene so it was time we got involved. We spent the next 4 days bouncing between Jacks breakfast cafe which was amazing, Nortons biker bar and the numerous night clubs around the main square that lure you in with free drinks. Some of Clarkey's mates from Coffs were in town (Wiff and Jordan) which ensured plenty of crazy late nights. Also caught up with Julie, Farina and Sylivia who passed through town while we were there. Cusco is like a spiderweb in that it is easy to get caught in the web of partying and hangovers which makes it difficult to leave as most of the buses depart really early in the morning. We managed to escape and got ourselves on a bus heading south to Puno. We payed for first class tickets but the bus was an absolute nightmare and was totally falling apart with broken seats and windows.

We arrived in Puno and checked in to the Point hostel which was extremely nice and friendly. We booked an island tour and then had an early night as our bodies were wrecked and were craving sleep and healthy food.

Puno is the gateway to Lake Titicaca so we caught a boat to the floating reed islands of Los Uros. They are quite amazing but also very touristy. They are the ones that you always see on the documentaries. The native people still live on the floating islands. One of the locals took us into her little hut and then it got really awkward as she expected us to buy something from her little stall. We hopped back on the boat and headed to the Island of Amantana where we were introduced to our host family for the night. Our host was called Francesca and at first she didn't seem interested in knowing us at all but she slowly warmed up. Noone spoke any English so it was a good opportunity to practise our Spanish. The son was friendly but it didn't take long for me to exhaust my Spanish vocab. The family lived such a basic existence, they got their power for lighting from solar panels and the kitchen was extremely basic. Living on an island meant that they relied heavily on trading food and vegetables with their neighbours. After a simple but delicious lunch we met up with the rest of the group in the town square and ended up playing soccer with a mix of locals and gringos. Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world so Oxygen wasn't exactly plentiful in the air and damn did we feel it playing soccer. So breathless but so much fun!

After dinner the host mum dressed me in traditional robes (a colourful poncho) and we went to a fiesta. She taught me some Quechuan dances which were repetitive but quite fun. It was absolutely freezing and the stars in the sky were so bright. Amazing.

We woke to another beautiful day, said goodbye to our family and hopped back on the boat. Living with the family on that island really makes you realise how easy our lives are. We headed to the island of Taquile which wasn't too far away. It was quite a nice setting but wasn't that exciting really. We learnt that the colour of the beanies of the local people indicates their marital status and that married guys wear a belt that incorporates some of their wives hair instead of a wedding ring. Before getting married a couple has to live with the father of the bride which apparently leads to a 0% divorce rate. Interesting.

It was our last night in Peru so back in Puno we went out for a nice feed. I had cuy (Guinea pig) and it was delicious. It tasted a bit like duck.

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