|Boat made from reeds on Lake Titicaca|
One benefit of visiting Puno was learning more about the strikes during the month of June. A kind woman working at my hostel explained to me, albeit in spanish, that the majority of people in the Puno area are farmers. Apparently, the government based in Lima signed a document granting a foreign company the mineral rights in the agricultural lands around Puno. Therefore, the farmers and inhabitants of Puno went on strike. A number of people were killed and you can still see the aftermath of the protests (broken windows, etc). Downtown Puno is a ghost town right now as far as tourism is concerned because people are too afraid to visit. However, hooray for the protesters because the government signed a document saying that they will no longer sell the mineral rights. YAY! As I learned in my rangeland class, mining in third world countries can have an extremely negative effect on the agricultural land which the local native people need to farm in order to survive.
Anyway, Lake Titicaca proved to be rather disappointing. It`s cold (freezing!) and I hate being cold, dreary, and over-commercialized. I`ve been in many tiny villages in Peru, but I got the impression that the native folk on these islands were faking it for the tourists. So I`m going to take my frozen self and head north. I hear it`s warmer near the equator.
|Plaza de Armas - Arequipa|
UPDATE July 3, 2011
This morning I arrived at the bus station in Puno with a bus ticket to Cusco in hand. But at the last minute I decided I didn`t want to go back to Cusco. So at the very last minute I bought a ticket to return to Arequipa. I figured that if I was going to be sick somewhere then it should be somewhere familiar and comfortable, not as cold, and at a lower elevation. So I jumped on a local bus (as opposed to the swanky tourist buses that I`ve been taking) and made the journey back to Arequipa. The bus was disgusting and packed with people, and if I hadn`t been sick then I would have appreciated the culture. But finally, after a 6 hour bus journey and taxi ride later, I arrived back at Casa de Avila. I walked into reception and was immediately greeted with, ´´Melanie! You came back!`` followed by a big hug. At that point I knew I made the right decision to wait out my sickness in Arequipa. I`ll head north when I feel better.