Downtown Aeraquipa is pretty nice. The whole center is an old colonial city and the neighborhoods around it are nice too.
The outskirts, not so much:
We took a bus towards Lake Titicaca.
The biggest city in that area is Juliaca. It is about 30 minutes from the lake. It might be the most depressing place I've ever seen. Pinotepa National in Mexico is pretty depressing, but Juliaca is in another league.
In comparison Puna is like Vancouver...in a still sort of crappy sense.
But, it is really not too bad and it is on the lake.
We walked around town and went to a nice place for a drink.
And looked for a place to have dinner, but the high $7 menus around were too expensive, so we found a place that had a $2 dinner special. Here's Naomi enjoying a stuffed avocado.
I don't remember what I had. But, I remember what I had did to my insides. It did bad, bad stuff.
The next day we headed out on the lake. Our first stop were the floating reed islands.
The people that live there moved out there to get away from the other tribes. They make islands out of reeds and live out there. They still fish and raise reeds to keep their islands intact but now they make most of their income from fees paid by tourist groups to check out their islands.
So they mostly hang out there, give tours and sell stuff to tourists.
I suppose, but would you rather eat reeds or get money for hanging out on your reed islands, weaving mini-reed boats, and running little shops and restaurants? I think I'd go with option B.
The aliens in my body hadn't quite hatched yet at this point, but they were working on it.
As part of their program the reed island ladies serenade you as you pull away on your reed boat.
We got back on our big boat for another 4 hours or so to Amantani Island in the middle of the lake.
I was hurting pretty bad by then. I was smiling on the outside.
and I bought a llama hat woven by the lady whose house we were staying in.
But, not feeling to good AT ALL.
After a little bit to hang out, we were supposed to meet in the town square and then take a hike up to the top of the little mountain on the island.
But, I decided after waiting in the square for a while that what with the apparent lack of any trees to duck behind and the scratchy looking nature of the crops in the area that I should
Naomi made it up there.
Here's our fearless leader pointing out quinoa. He was a nice guy. Not so much with the English part of the English tour though.
It looked pretty cool up there though.
The lady at the house was worried about me and brought me some special tea that was to make me feel better. She was really nice.
Later on that night, the host families dressed all the tourists up in traditional gear and took them to a dance in the town. I was felling horrendous, so I just stayed in bed. Well, I was checking things out. The bathroom there was an outhouse with very limited tp next to a sheep pen. I checked that out many, many, many times. You flush this sort of toilet by pouring a bucket of water into the bowl. No bucket was provided this night. Sorry family. Sorry sheep.
Another guy was staying at the same house. He was a really cool pharmacist from Salta, Argentina. Naomi and him went to the dance with the little kids from our house.
The next day we took the boat to Taquile Island.
We walked around the island and our guide tried to point out different things to us. He pointed out different herbs that you can make tea out of and the significance of different types of dress people wear that designate their marital status.
Then he told us the same things over and over and over again. It was pretty funny. At one point, I got Naomi to ask him if there were any donkeys on this island.
"No, no donkeys this island. On the Amantani Island, some burros...many horse. On the Taquile Island, I don't horse."
While we were walking around a bunch of guys were repaving the path. They were taking huge boulders and splitting them into huge blocks with sledgehammers. Then they were hauling them to the paving place. That was pretty impressive- really hard work.
We had a nice lunch there and then after hanging out for a while, we headed back towards the port. There are a dearth of bathrooms and especially bathrooms with tp on the islands. At the port, a stand sold tp. I had a long 4 boat ride back to Puna. At least the weather was nice, so the boat wasn't rocking furiously like it was on the way out the day before.