5/4/10: Puno, Peru
“It’s good, but it’s really touristy. It’s almost ridiculous how touristy it is.”
“It’s definitely worth a visit, but it’s sooooo touristy.”
Sometimes I don’t get what the bad thing is about going to a place that’s touristy. The Great Wall, the Grand Canyon, the Eiffel Tower – all crawling with tourists. But why is that bad? Is it because everyone else had the same idea as you so you don’t feel special? Sometimes I just want to shout, “IT’s OK! You don’t HAVE to be special! I’m Chinese! I’m one of over 1.3 BILLION Chinese people, and it’s ok!”
Anyway. I really like seeing tons of other travelers at the same place we’re at and thinking about how cool it is that one thing could bring so many people from so many different countries and backgrounds together – to one place. Don’t you think that’s amazing?
With that preface, today we went to Uros, one of the floating islands in Lake Titicaca, which had been described to us as “touristy.” I still don’t know what that word means.
We arrived at one of the small island communities and hopped off our boat. The “ground” was surprisingly firm. One of the men on the island explained to us how the island was built. It was in Spanish, so we didn’t understand everything, but I think I can explain how it works without too many mistakes. There are these giant peat blocks that float. Each peat block has a big wooden stick sticking out of it, and they get tied together by ropes. There are also ropes from those sticks that stretch out and anchor the island on all sides to the ground (so it doesn’t float away). Then they put massive amounts of dry reeds on top of the peat blocks and build their houses on top of that. It’s crazy.
After walking around the village for a little bit, we took a ride in a small reed boat. The boat was so sensitive that when Kevin leaned from his side over onto my side to take a picture, the two women on the boat (including me) screamed and we nearly capsized. Not to worry though, our captain was a pro. He expertly paddled us around, except he didn’t have a paddle – just had a long wooden rod. Either the people on these island are extremely strong or there is hardly any friction between the water and the boat. I’m guessing it’s probably a combination of the two.
It wasn’t long before we had to say goodbye to our able captain and the island of floating reeds. And so now I can say with pride: I might be one of 1.3 billion Chinese on this planet, but I’ve gone to the floating islands on Lake Titicaca. Take that!
Picture of the Day: View from our reed boat.