Day 50: Puno & the Floating Islands of the Uros

Arriving in Puno was not a pleasure. The town is really ugly and like many other urban areas in South America packed with traffic and consequently polluted. Like in other developing countries there are or “there must be” no regulations for vehicle emissions or some people might be really corrupt and prolong the life of those polluting monsters. I am sick of inhaling black clouds of nano particles everytime I am in a town or trying to pass the many trucks uphills. It is a nightmare…

However, Since my mobile phone or my Bolivian SIM card was not working anymore I was trying to buy a local one in the jungle of Puno. Somehow, I did not manage to organise one and unfortunately I did not understand what people were trying to tell me. I understood only that Peruvians would be able to buy SIM cards. REALLY? NO! I can’t believe it… After asking the “Punos”: “hablo ingles?”, they reacted really bad and I had the impression to be one step from murdering. Pissed off, I gave up and tried to find an accommodation next. After 1,5 hours of desperately looking for an affordable hotel with a garage I was really desperate since the narrow one way streets were difficult to navigate (plus, I had no access to internet of course). It can’t be so difficult to find something, I complained. After the 4th hostal I finally received the address of an accommodation a bit out of town and I happily accepted the recommendation.

The hostal was really nice and had sufficient parking space available. I asked the hotel manager for the reasons why I was not able to buy a local SIM card and apparently there are only a couple of licensed places to sell them. Hmmmm, ok… I understand. It is like basically going to a local shop in Europe and trying to get a SIM while they would just be selling top up cards. GOT IT!

After receiving the correct addresses I made my way back again into town and visited the first shop “Claro”. They made me understand that the central office is somehow closed and I had to wait another day. MANANA! NO! TODAY! I went to the second shop which was Entel and just another 200 meters away. The lady in the shop let me wait 10 minutes before finishing a phone call. I had to exercise my patience again and full of hope I was asking her for a prepaid option which I could use during my time in Peru. She offered me a modem and a new phone, lol. NO, this is not what I need. I need a SIMPLE Prepaid Card! OH, this is not available anymore. Mea sculpa!

Great… Off to the next shop: I can’t remember even the name anymore. However, same problem as shop number one. Sh*%! I guess, I would have to come back again the day after.

When I already gave up I spotted another tiny shop close by which was en route to the taxi stand and they could apparently manage to provide me with a SIM card. However, the procedure to get there took forever and I never saw anything like that before. The agent took a picture of my passport which she sent via mobile phone to possibly the central store (which was opened today compared to the other ones). She had to confirm all the details again on the phone. Thereafter, she passed me the phone and the agent on the other side of the line was rapidly talking something in Spanish. No glue what she said but I guess she told me the small print of the contract. From time to time the shop agent told me to say “Si” and after 15 minutes I could finally use my “Special” local Peruvian SIM card. SUCCESS! LOL!

What a start of the day…

However, since I was already in Puno I decided to visit the Floating Islands of the Uros, a traditional tribe living since a couple of centuries 1,5 hours offshore. They tried to escape the hostile cultures of the mainland and when arriving there I had the feeling nothing really changed, as the watch would have stopped ticking. Legend says they existed even before the sun and Uros believe to be the oldest people on earth. The people don’t Speak Spanish but a language called Aymara and make their living mainly from Fishing and Tourism.

It was incredible to see the floating islands and the people living on it. They even have a school and a townhall built on one of their largest islands. The floating islands are built of reed atop of root clods which they are collecting from nearby areas. Walking over their homes felt like walking on clouds… so soft!

I would have loved to see more of the daily life of the people but instead we were animated to buy crafts from the many shops on the island. It was too touristy and after 30 minutes I had already enough of the sales pitch of the island owner.

However, since we started our tour  late at 4 pm it was the perfect light for taking pictures of the surroundings and so I followed my passion and tried to capture some moments of the late afternoon.

I finished the day at a place called Machu Pizza and enjoyed another Pisco Sour 🙂