It´s been a little over two weeks since Thomas and I have been traveling in Peru. We have received excellent hospitality in Lima, made our home in a little family-run hostel in the historical and beautiful city of Cuzco for one week, trekked the famous Inca Trail for four days to get to the Lost Inca City of Machu Picchu, slept on the small island of Taquile and set foot on the one-of-a-kind floating island of Uros on Lake Titicaca near the city of Puno.
We have met many interesting people and things were going very smoothly for two non-Spanish speaking people in a South American country…until we got to Uros Island. I was guilty of picking the convenience of going with a pre-arranged tour group instead of going independently, where the local people would have benefited more from my expense. I figured we only have about two days in Puno and did not want to spend that time trying to look for something myself given my language limitations.
We got into Puno on Friday evening and had our hostel arrange the trip for us the next morning. Things went smoothly and we got on the boat with six other people from our hostel at 7:00AM. We felt a little lucky to be with them because they know both English and Spanish. Our boat of about 30 passengers, left at around 7:30AM along with at least ten others, heading for Uros Islands, the only islands in the world made of totora roots and reeds. About 45 minutes into the trip, we arrived in a floating island with a big reed watch tower in the shape of a fish. The tour guide gave us a short history of the island and showed us how it was made, with the help of a local man and some visual aides. After the presentation, he told us we could take a ride on the reed boat for an extra charge. My husband and I got on the reed boat that was about to leave. We were enjoying the ride and took many pictures of the surrounding floating islands. Thomas even got to paddle the boat just for fun.
We got dropped off at an island across from where we landed, went into home made out of reed and got a glimpse of the life-style of these islanders. We were amazed to find that they were pretty technologically advanced in a certain sense. They have solar panels, televisions and radios in their homes. After the home visit, we walked outside and saw our boat taking off without us! We waved at it but it just zoomed by us. A wave of panic went through us. We helplessly explained to the islanders what just happened in English and they talked back to us in Spanish. We finally got another tourist to translate and got ourselves back to the island where we landed.
We talked to the captain and tour guide from another boat from the same company and they asked us the name of the boat and tour guide but we could not answer the questions. After numerous calls, they decided to take us to Taquile Island on their boat and assured us that they will help us find our backpacks with the stuff that we needed for the overnight stay at Taquile. We were really upset but tried to stay calm…
Our relief came when I looked over my pictures and showed the new tour guide our original tour guide. She then made a phone call and then assured us that our bags were still there and we would get them when we get to Taquile. What a big scare!