My tour to Maras and Moray was kind of a show. The group left late, and there were only 20-30 minutes to see each site. I missed to have the opportunity to explore the landscape on my own. The reason why I choose the tour was that I was told that it would be too complicated, and properly also more expensive to take public busses and taxis. Maras are natural salt mines. All of the sudden they appeared in the landscape as a hole in the ground. Moray consists of 3 archeological sites, the circles in the ground. They somewhat remind of amphibian theaters, but the Incas made them to experience with agriculture. Each step would have a different temperature and thereby enable them to grow a different crop.
After dinner I ran up and down the stair of San Blas neighborhood to keep warm. At 8.45 I got myself and my stuff into a taxi and rode to the Cruz del Sur bus station (6 soles). They weight my backpack and checked it in. At the station you would be able to find something to eat and drink and toilets. At 10pm the journey towards Puno by the Titicaca Lake began. I had plenty of space for legs, and the seats could lean back quite far. I was served a simple sandwich which I saved for breakfast. The first 1½ hour they played a movie which made it hard to fall asleep, but when it ended it was good. I arrived in Puno around 5am. The station was big and there were plenty of opportunities to find food. A tuktuk drove me to Puma backpackers’ hostel. At 7am I began a tour to the Uros Islands and Taquile. The Uros is an ethnic group who lives on floating islands made out of straw. It was quite amazing to see how they could build islands, houses, boats, toys, umbrellas etc. out of this natural material. They constantly have to make sure the straws are moist, and they have to add reeds on top – otherwise the island will disappear. Only 6 families lived on the tiny island my group of 30 people visited, so I felt as if I was part of an invasion. The Urus demonstrated their techniques, they pulled out souvenirs you could buy, and for 10 soles you could get a ride in their boat. By the way, the reed boat is mostly for the tourist – nowadays the Urus use small motorboats. I noted an elderly tourist who chased an infant with a camera, and after that he walked into the private homes. The scenario bothered me because I though he was objectifying them. This issue is exactly what I am going to Mexico to study and write my thesis about. I really do wonder what people like the Urus think about the tourists. We are a source of income, but lines are definitely crossed from my point of view. There are about 70 Uru islands on Lake Titicaca.
After additionally 2½ hours of sailing we reached Taquile Island. The highest point of the island was about 4,5 km above sea level, and the lake is about 3,8 km above sea level. The landscape is generally really dry. Here are not really any plants. In the distance rise the snow peaks of Bolivia. I did not find the landscape of the island that interesting. However, people of the island indicated their social status by clothes and hats, and it was prestige for men to knit. They had a folkloric party in the main square. Locals of all ages were dancing in colorful costumes. It is as momatter where I go there is a folkloric party:) My group had about 3 hours on the island, so it was hard to get to know it to well. I really enjoyed sailing on the lake. It reminded me of summer in Denmark.
July 28 I reached Copacabana in Bolivia. The bus from Puno is 25 soles + a 5 soles taxi + 1,5 sol tax to cross the border + a few soles to enter the town. Bolivia is one hour ahead in timedifference from Peru. The bus stopped before the border so that we could exchange money. Crossing the border took time, but was pain free. Today it is Peru’s national day and many Peruvians go to Copacabana to Celebrate. The Bolivian people celebrate a Catholic Virgin. Cars are decorated with colorful paper, and a ritual which mixes Catholicism with offerings to Pacchamama are carried out to protects families and their properties. On top of a hill, several families made little squares on the ground, which they decorated with flowers, candles and models of houses. A Sharman or priest rang a bell over each person’s head, spoke some words and sprayed beer over the “alter” on the ground.
Peanuts is the thing in Copacabana. I had peanut soup at the market for 5 bolivianos and a peanut juice on the street for 3 bolivianos.
July 29 I saw Horca del Inca on top of a hill in Copacabana. It was not really a ruin, but a few stones placed strategically. The story is that the sun goes between the stones in the morning of summer solstice. It cost 10 bolivianos to enter. I spent some time enjoying the sun on top of the hill. To be honest I had feared going to Bolivia, because everybody told me it would be cold and the weather forecast said minus 5 Celsius at night. The days here are warm (the wind is cold), and last night I wore to layers of pants + 4 shirts, a sweater, a jacket and a poncho. After dinner I went to the market to drink api (a warm drink made of corn). I haven’t suffered from the cold since the first night of the Inka trail. I have either gotten used to it, or learned my tricks. By the way, it is easier to stay warm in a sleeping back than in the blanks offered by hostels. When I sleep, I put on layers because it is easier to take of clothes than finding more in the middle of the night.
I took the 6pm bus back to Puno. There was no line at the border and no fees to pay. At the terminal in Puno I jumped on the nightbus to Arequipa. I arrived in Arequipa (by the airport) at 4am, and shared a cap to the city with some other backpackers. For once I had not booked a hostel ahead – that is first and last time! I walked around in the dark for two hours. Everything was occupied. At last I got to borrow some wifi, booked a room and took a taxi. Now I’ve been sitting at this hostel on the flor for two hours. I am very tired, but I cannot check in before 12. I think I will find a place to have something warm to drink soon.