Isla Esteves

There is only so much of a parade one can take. The music is monotonous, there being only two main versions of the marching music. The streets are so crowded it is difficult to move and the sun at altitude is difficult to take. Together with feeling under par it is too much to take so I repair to my hotel. What will I do with my day?

imageI discover that there is a private island sitting on Lake Titicaca reached by a single road which the train passed on its way into Puno.. On the island is a gleaming white hotel called the Libertador and there is a path for walkers around the small island.

I have to walk two blocks uphill aways from the main street to hail and cab and this time to prenegotiate the fare. The ride is ridiculous as to get around all of the blocked roads I am taken up and down the steepest and narrowest streets imaginable. Brake failure would be fatal!

The security guard on the entry road to the island would not open the barrier until he had spoken to me. Waste of time but he gets the idea that I am visiting the hotel. What an oasis.

imageI slump into an easy chair in the vast bar area. Huge glass panels on either side enable me to look back across Titicaca to Puno and on the other side towards the so called reed dwellers on the lake. Apparently a big tourist attraction as I can see the small pleasure cruisers make their way in that direction.

I am enjoying the quiet and the solitude and after a beer and a bottle of water I venture out. Turning towards what I believe to be the start of the walk I encounter a herd of free roaming llama who stare at me inquisitively with almost human expressions. I start to climb some steps, which instead of leading around the island, leads to the top with wonderful views across the lake. As I reach the top I see small rat-like creatures disappear into the undergrowth. In fact they are cuy, wild guinea pigs. Here I am surprised to find a grave and a monument to a James Orton.

I later discover that Orton was an American explorer who made three important trips to South America. On his last trip, in 1877, he sailed across Titicaca to Puno but was found dead on board. The Puno community would not allow hime to be buried in the town. Heaven forbid…he was not a catholic! However, the local newspaper proprietor Sr Esteves, who had met Orton on a previous trip and was a fan of his work allowed him to be buried on his island.

image.jpegAs I wander back the llama have followed me up and we warily pass each other once more. The 30 minute walk around the island was wonderful, full of interesting vistas, helicopter landing pads marked out with white stone, and wild life including a fox.

I return to my seat in the hotel for another beer and water and while away another hour such is the peace of the place. It is only 6pm but not having had lunch I order a bar snack which turns out to be sufficient to avoid a dinner later. In the meantime a storm passes and the sun sets.

I need to get back to the boom boom which can be heard from across the lake. The doorman gives the taxi man my address, two blocks up from my hotel, there is a sucking of teeth because of blocked roads and the price has now risen by 5 soles, just over £1. Not a problem, and back through the hilly suburbs we travel, this time in the dark.

Another excursion to the grand parade and I am done for the day.













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