Peru surprised us with its originality. Initially, this was not due to its heritage or scenery. All the people we saw had Indian facial features. This would not have mattered, but it made any 'gringo' stand out. The people looked more European in the southern part of Brazil. You had to really make an effort to find black or Indian people. We were used to blending in, without the car obviously.
However, the desert, which had started in Chile, continued without change for the time being. We headed towards Cusco, near Cusco is the city called Puna, from which you can get to Lake Titicaca. We did not have a lot of time, of course, since Peter's flight was nearing. Greenery appeared as we approached the mountains. We reached Lake Titicaca in the third evening, after spending our nights in dusty Peruvian towns. The lake made a shallow and boring first impression, rather than a fascinating one. In any case, there were a lot of reeds everywhere. We found out that it would not be possible to see a reed boat within an hour. It would take three hours. And one can only see them on the floating islands. So we went on the excursion.
Upon arrival, a local Indian gave us the mandatory speech about the island, the boats, etc. in Spanish. In the meantime, I investigated whether the island really sways with the waves, climbing the observation tower was beneficial for this. I also went to have a look at the reed boats. Surely, the local boat experts would be willing to tie a few pontoons under the amphibian as well. But I was gravely disappointed. There was blue plastic visible underneath the first layer of reeds. I do not know what was inside the plastic, but the boats were traditional reed boats only as decorations. I touched the reeds as well, they had a very hard outer bark. The ones in Estonia are much weaker. Coaxing tourists into buying souvenirs, which were bought from elsewhere, seemed to be the main source of income for the local Indians. The tour price included a ride in a reed boat. We climbed into the boat, and immediately the village chief showed up with his motor boat, he drove it into the stern of our reed boat and the ride could begin. It was a nice and quiet outboard motor. The traditional right to do reed side-jobs is an interesting folk tradition.
Of course, there are more islands further on, these might be more genuine. But what else can you expect, Thor Heyerdhal made this place famous and the resulting hordes of tourists need to be addressed. At least we got to feel the reeds, see the lake and even some reed architecture. A night-time drive to Cusco was ahead as a punishment for going on a three-hour excursion.
Translated by Luisa Translation Agency