Our last planned trip in Peru after Machu Picchu was to visit the Uros Floating Islands which was planned for several days later. Whilst still in Cusco, we had a one day trip quadbiking to Maras Salt Lakes and Moray.
Moray and Maras Salt Lakes
For the price, it was totally worthwhile to go quadbiking along the rocky trails from Moray to Maras Salt Lakes. Although I’ve already visited a few ruins, Moray was quite different in that it truly portrayed the ingenuity of the Incan civilisation. Aside from the aesthetically pleasing concentric circles layering up above each other, who would have known that Incans used this place as an experiment lab to test the effects of temperature and altitude in respect to growing crops.
Uros Floating Islands
After a 10 hour coach ride from Cusco we arrived to Puno in the freezing cold morning before catching a ferry on Lake Titicaca. Although its called a lake, not to mention the largest lake in South America and the highest lake in the world, looking at into the plain of blue, it felt more like going out into a sea instead. We weaved through many tall bush of reeds until midday before finally reaching the little man-made islands.
Aboard one of the islands, we were greeted by a very friendly island owner and his family of consisting of his three wives (yes that is correct), and five children. He slowly explained how the islands were constructed, how they sustained on the reeds and fish, before offering us a ride( we had to pay for it ) on his funny shaped boat,his children accompanying us singing a bunch of children’s songs in various languages ( french, english, italian, chinese, japanese, korean…). As a city dweller, I felt both amazed and guilty at the time. I was amazed by how there were people in this world who could live on a lake for the majority of their lives on a small island about the size of two 50m swimming pools, and they were able to lead such satisfying and happy lives with very little get by, where as I and probably many others living in the western world still feel dissatisfaction despite having so much more…
After leaving the floating islands, we made our way to Amantani Island where we homestayed at one of the locals houses for the night. Although they had little to offer, we were given warm soup and some vegetables which was much pleasing in the exceptionally cold night. I was given a piece of chewy white egg-like piece of food which turned out to be cheese. Although the island wasn’t particularly big, it had a large sports field at the top of the island was their sun temple.
The next day we went to a slightly larger neighbouring island for lunch. The main plaza was at the very top of the island thus another gruelling walk uphills. We got back Puno late in the afternoon but with nowhere to go and our return coach five hours later, we picked a random restaurant near the main plaza to stay, taking turns to order food after each of us finished to fill up the 5 hour gap although the waitress didn’t seem to mind that we stayed there for so long.
The rest of the trip was spent uneventfully at Cusco before another 36 hour flight from Lima to Uruguay, Santiago, Aukland and finally back at Sydney, ending one of the harshest journeys yet!
Ever since my short lived trek to Machu Picchu, I have been rather irritated and angry for the rest of the trip. Considering the fact that I had to spend alot more than I had to per day compared to my trip to Japan, and having to endure much harsher conditions, I wasn’t particularly impressed by the events that progressed. My arms that were covered in mosquito bites, getting sick and tired almost every second day, and the same junk food almost every day would definitely conclude this trip as my worst overseas holiday to date. I even felt a sense of regret after returning, thinking I could have ended my university life on a more relaxing vacation in Bali or returning to China for once in ten odd years for $5000AUD.
However, its been eight months since this trip and although my arms are still covered with the same mosquito bites, the sense of regret has disappeared, reminiscing back at the times I suffered along the way as if it happened yesterday, I feel that at the very least I have had a very unique experience, one that I could not possibly get in a Western world. Visiting the various ruins along the way whilst learning about the ingenuities of the ancient Incan civilisation and the way of life of people living in a mountainous environment, one that is vastly different to mine, has given me some new perspectives of life. I also appreciate the exceptionally consistent and great weather, Limonada and Pisco Sours, and the very friendly people of Peru.
Despite being a third world country, one thing that stood out to me was how efficient Peru was. Although they heavily relied on word of mouth to transmit messages and get things done, this quick and simple method seems so much more effective than the complex methods large corporations of the western world use. Although I didn’t have the best hiking journey, the agencies arrangements to get me to Machu Picchu was as simple as me telling them my plans of which places I wished to visit, in which they organised the all the hotels and transportation. In contrast to that, trying to change my phone number in Australia results in several hours of talking to an automated phone operator, going through several departments before learning that I do not have the authorisation to do so. Thus, this one aspect of Peru makes me amazed at how organised and easy it is to live in Peru as a foreigner if food and altitude wasn’t an issue.