September 04, 2003

Lake Titkaka (alt. How Small Can the World Get?)

Here comes another update from the other side of the planet.. albeit on a slightly more downbeat note.

After a seven hour bus ride we arrived in Puno, the main city on the shores of Lake Titikaka, on Monday afternoon. Having slept some on the bus I was feeling well rested and energetic. Before dinner Martin, Owen and I hit an internet café on the main plaza to do some quick emailing.

Next something probabilistically completely impossible happened. On my way out of the café I found myself standing literally face to face with Chris Mogge, a friend of mine from Germany who did the undergraduate together with me at LSE, and who subsequently went on to do a master's degree at Stanford. I had not seen him since graduation, and suddenly there he was in Puno, a small city in the middle of nowhere Perú. How small can the world really get?

After dinner we decided to try the Puno nightlife together with Owen and Martin. In a typical gringo bar called Ekeko's Pub we bumped into some brits from another GAP group that seemed sympatetic enough, so we stayed and had a few drinks and shaked it out on the dance floor.

The following morning we set off to tour Lake Titikaka in a boat. Our first stop was the Floating Reed Islands of the Uros people. As the name says, the islands are made of reed and are floating in the lake.. very strange indeed! Moving is made very easy for Uros people.. they just lift anchor and tow the island to another part of the lake. Having visited the local school and taken a tour in a boat made of reed we continued our journey towards Amantaní, an island inhabited by another group of indigenous people. On the way there I got struck down with a fever, and I slept most of the four hour boat ride there. Once on the island I was struggling to make the 100m climb up to the host family I was supposed to stay with together with Owen and Martin, and I went straight to bed as we finally got to the house (this was around three o'clock). The next 15 hours I spent passed out in bed with a fever, and thus I missed all of the activites on the island (including a football match against the locals, an evening fiesta with local dancing, etc) :(

The morning after the fever let go and after having got a couple of potato cakes in me for breakfast I felt a lot better. The boat ride back was very enjoyable as the sun was gazing down and we were parked on the sundeck playing cards and working on our tans. Shame on the rest of the islands tour though.

Back in Puno we had dinner in a nice restaurant chosen due to its 9:1 gender ratio, after which the three amigos (current nickname for Martin, Owen and I)set out to find a nice place to have a drink and chill. We ended up in a rock pub with a few guys from Holland (including a girl who was quite simply stunning). Having played a few games of chess together with Martin on the boat back from Amataní we had decided we just had to find a travelling chess board for the remaining part of our tour. Earlier I had unsuccessfully been hunting around town for one, but not even the games stores had magnetic ones. Low and behold, walking into the rock pub we spot a magnetic chess board on the bar. After a couple of games with Martin the bartender was convinced to sell the board to us for 20 Soles (equivalent of a little less than US$6). The board was definitely not brand new, and the look on the guys face when we offered him the money clearly laid out that he got the better part of the deal. Oh well. We got the much desired chess board :)

As our dutch friends decided to call it an early night we figured we might as well do the same, and so we headed back to the hotel for a good night's sleep.

Next morning we boarded the bus for Cusco, the party and gringo capital of Perú (and possibly of all of South America). More about that to follow soon.

Posted by markus at September 4, 2003 09:42 PM
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