Thursday, October 18, 2007

Floating Islands

Day 12: September 2, 2007

Puno, Floating Islands, and Amantani Island

Got up at 6:45. Woke up not feeling very well. Perhaps I shouldn't have eaten that salad last night? The menu claimed everything was washed in purified water, but I don't think I trust it anymore.

Took bike taxis to the market to get gifts for local families we would be staying with on Amantani island. Picked up 15 soles worth of rice, sugar, pencils, coffee, etc. We them took a boat to the floating islands. These are artificial islands that the natives construct by weaving together reeds from the lake. They engage in some primitive aquaculture and built their houses, boats, etc out of the same reeds that they use to build their islands. Each tiny island has a president who they other inhabitants pick on a yearly basis. It all seemed a little ridiculous. Most of the islands were only about a quarter of an acre at best.

I started to feel really bad. When we landed I had awful diarrhea and soon was throwing up as well. I'm pretty sure it was food poisoning. Not much to do about it in the middle of Lake Titicaca. We took the boat to other islands and I kept feeling worse. Pity that my Imodium and any other useful medicine I may have had was stolen in the mountains.

Finally arrived at Amantani island where we were to spend the night with local families. A 25 minute hike uphill was more than I could handle by that point. Had to have Alvaro carry my bag the second half of the way up. Only left my bed to go to the toilet. Very primitive toilets. No toilet seats. No flush. Door barely worked in the outhouse. Not a great place to be sick with it coming out both ends. Finally got Alvaro to return to check on me at 6PM. Borrowed some Imodium from Laura, one of the other backpackers. Got gator aid and tea from the local store. Felt a bit better. Came down for dinner at 7 and ate a bit of soup and tea. Got dressed for the traditional party after. All the islanders and tourists dress up in traditional Amantani garb and do traditional dances. They have a live band and the music is pretty good. Very strong drum beat. It was fun but one dance was all I could manage. Going to bed now. Hope I feel better tomorrow.

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