Wednesday, November 21, 2007

titicaca - more caca than titi

4th October 1998
It should have been a warning. Our hostel owner who was taking us to the ferry turned up in his car drunk. At 9 in the morning.

I was heading out onto Lake Titicaca which lies on the border of Peru and Bolivia. I had arrived the night before with some friends made on the Machu Picchu trek at the town of Puno (pr. 'pooh-no' - appropriate really because it was a s***hole)

But we made it to the ferry in one piece and boarded our boat. Then we were offloaded onto another.

It was a short trip out to the floating islands, a small community of Uros natives numbering around the 2,000 mark who live and eat and sleep on islands made entirely of reeds.

Leaving these islands we head out into Lake Titicaca to visit a community living on Isla Taquile. Right out into the lake (which has a temperature of 4 deg. Celsius) we break down. Eventually another tourist ferry arrives and tows us to the island where the boat crew assure us they will have the boat fixed by the time we return.

Up on the island, which has wonderful views over the lake,

we find the village in the middle of what looks to be a fairly important town meeting.

When it is time to leave, I discover ours is the very last ferry to depart.

About 300 metres from the shore we break down again. There are no oars. No radio. No lifejackets. No flares.

But one of the crew members has a small hand mirror. Oh whoopy do!

At this stage the second last ferry to leave is already a speck on the horizon.

The crew member with the mirror is on the prow trying to flash the dying suns rays on the mirror towards the now dissappearing boat in the distance.

After what seems like an eternity, he yells a cry of delight and we realise the ferry has seen his signal and has turned around.

20 minutes later our rescuers arrive and as their boat pulls along side us we ram it with our prow and punch a hole in its side.

So now our fully laden boat disembarks onto the other (fully laden) boat with a hole in it for the 90 minute trip back to safety.

We were kept afloat, I think, by sheer bloody willpower and the accumulated desire of 40 nervous passengers to live.

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