Puno, Peru

Peru, failed to impress.

This post will most likely upset a few people as I am well aware that there are many people out there who love South America and Peru. I don´t. Peru has been very disappointing, not because it´s rubbish (it´s worth a visit) but it failed to impress. We entered Bolivia yesterday (Saturday) and here is already proving to be more exciting than Peru but, I´ll discuss Bolivia more next time. Our last experience in Peru at lake Titicaca sums up my experience of the country as a whole.

Our excursion to lake Titicaca was included in the trip and started with a tour of the floating reed islands. Basically the Incas forced the local people of Puno (the local town) to flee to the lake on boats, these boats soon became islands constructed from the reeds that grow on the lake. Centuries on they are still going strong. At best it was interesting to see and our guide, like most of our Peruvian guides have been very good. In typical Peruvian fashion after a talk on one of the islands about their story we were invited to have a look around and as if by magic about ten stalls selling stuff had appeared which weren´t there at the beginning. Then there was a disastrous rip off of a boat trip followed up by the hundreds of tourists. The problem is that it all begins to feel very fake. And yes I know, I´m part of the problem.

We then headed off to a real island where we were to stay the night with a local family, basically B&B styley but we ate with the family. To be honest I was dreading it however, it turned out to be pretty good. Our host Vandalina was excellent. We played football with the local kids which was knackering as the lake sits at 3800m. Incidentally the lake is a little bit salty, this is because it used to be at sea level and it got pushed up over a few decades with the Andes to produce the lake that it is today. Gotta love nature! Anyhow we also attended a local dance on the evening of our island stay which wasn´t so bad either. The following day we visited another island and had a walk about which got me thinking about Peru.

I think for me when we are in the towns and cities, we could be anywhere in meditterainian Europe. They are beautiful places to be around but so bloody unexciting. Out and about you can stumble across some awesome mountain views but there is very little on the mountains other than rocks and alpacas. Peru is like so many jobs, long periods of boredom with the odd moment of excitement which keeps you hanging in there. For example the dune buggying and the Inca trail was bloody awesome! The Inca trail in particular was epic and was everything I hoped Peru would be. But overall it lacks charm, charisma and character. Everyone is out to make a penny from the tourists and you constantly feel cheated and ripped off and that you are not actually getting a true taste of Peru. Okay, I could venture away from the tourist track but I don´t feel the want to do that, it doesn´t entice me. Bolivia on the other hand, let’s just say La Paz is full of character and personality!

I hope I don´t sound too harsh, Peru is definitely worth one visit but as a whole I was hoping for more. Now I must go and watch the Top Gear death road special to get us revved up for tomorrow. Addios.

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