3rd - 4th November 2003
It was a long drive to Puno but a very scenic one through the Altiplano. Lots of Llamas and Vicunas.
We arrived in the midst of huge processions through the centre of town - a festival dedicated to the founding of Puno and the emergence of Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo from the waters of Lake Titicaca. All the main roads in town were closed, so after quite a few detours, we eventually found our hotel (Rubilodge Los Portales), parked up the Weasel, and headed out to see the celebrations.
Throughout the streets circling the central plaza was a huge pageant with groups of locals representing various streets, trade groups and clubs parading through the streets. Some of the groups danced in time to the live bands walking either in front of them of behind, but by the time some groups came round the plaza for the fifth of sixth time, they were so exhausted, that keeping time to the music seemed to be far from their minds and they looked ready to drop! The pageant went on into the early hours and the live music only stopped about 5:30am. Needless to say, the next day the local markets were very sparse with few opening until early afternoon. Even then a lot of the women running the stalls looked a little worse for wear, some having coca leaves plastered to their forehead - an effective hangover cure?
When we were in Puno three years ago we didn't get the chance to visit the Yavari, the oldest ship on Lake Titicaca, and now a museum, so we took the opportunity this time round. The ship itself was built in England in 1862 and then sent piece by piece to Bolivia - first by ship to Arica, then by rail to Tacna and finally by mule to Lake Titicaca, taking 6 years in total! It was reassembled and launched on Christmas Day in 1870.
It used to be docked right on the edge of the lake where all the boats depart for trips to the reed islands, but at the time we were there, moved further around the lake allowing various renovations to take place. We could have driven round or got a taxi, but it seemed much easier and nicer to take one of the boats over to it. The Captain of the Yavari showed us around and talked us through the modifications they were planning to convert the hold into passenger cabins. Ed was very interested in the engines!
Check out the Yavari website at www.yavari.org