10.01.2008 - 10.03.2008
By the time we arrived in Puno, I was ready for bed even though it was only 6:00ish. We picked up our bags, headed out of the station and met a rather disturbing air. The aroma of Puno was not very pleasant. Realizing that there was no one waiting for us, though I had an e-mail in my backpack from the week prior saying there would be someone there, was not very pleasant either. We finally took a taxi to our hotel through the fairly run down town, where we were hardly greeted before being taken to our room. The room was not horrible, but it also left much to be desired. My sister and I looked at each other and pulled out our personal pillowcases. I went in the bathroom after Jen and laughed upon finding the toilet seat lined with toilet paper. The night was cold, smelly and noisy, but thankfully there was also rest involved.
The next day we spent in Puno is the reason that people go there. We took a boat trip out to the Uros and Taquille islands on Lake Titicaca. The Uros Islands are floating islands built of totora reed, which is also used to build the boats and homes as well as for medicine and food. Stepping onto the reeds is a strange feeling, knowing that the reed is all that exists between the water and your feet, though it is at least a couple meters thick in most places. Taquille island is large, with 2000 people, many buildings and hundreds of steps leading up to the top, The views of the deep blue lake are dramatic from many points on this island. Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world with a little under half inside Bolivian borders and the other half within Peru.
By the time we stepped off the boat and back onto the streets of Puno, it was time for dinner. The first place we tried to go to was closed for a special party and we ended up at a fun little lounge/cafe/restaurant, which was also recommended. We chose a thai-inspired dish to share and I finally had a glass of wine as well. As far as Puno had gone, it was a pretty nice evening. We chatted and followed up the delicious food with a yummy apple tart thing. Though neither of us really wanted to go back to Rubi Lodge, we were looking forward to sleep and to leaving.
As my eyes opened the next morning, I was ready to move on. After I drank a little water, looked at some photos and organized a couple things, I realized I was not feeling very well. I thought that perhaps I had succomb to altitude sickness after choosing not to take medicine, however, as time went on it became increasingly clear that my body was attempting to reject something. I rested until we had to leave the hotel and then lugged my suitcase through the hot and smelly streets of Puno to the bus station. I got sick before we left the hotel, during the walk, at the bus station, on the bus and once we arrived in Arequipa. I spent the first sick day pondering what was making me so sick, not feeling as though it were the flu or something else, but wondering what could have given me food poisoning since Jen and I had pretty much eaten the same things. I realized yesterday (Saturday) that when we had dinner in Puno, I ate some of the vegetables (including spinach) that came on the plate with the delicious food and my sister hardly had any. It has not been the best couple of days, getting sick and feeling the most painful stomach pains and cramps I have ever had. Thankfully, I think I am getting better now, although I have hardly eaten anything over the last two days. To sum up Puno, I really have no desire to ever go back there....