Thursday, 24 November 2011

We are one seriously sickly group

Hello from Puno again.  Today is a rest day, but for most of the group today is far from a day to enjoy the sights and sounds of Puno.  About three quarters or more of the group is now sick and we are divided into two camps.  The first camp is the common cold camp and that has quite a few members, and then the second camp is the diarrhea and vomiting camp, and that has its fair share of members too.  At the moment I only belong to the first camp and don't feel too bad, so consider myself fortunate.

For the second camp there does seem to be a common link, which applies to all except 2 people (myself and Marieke).  Everyone except myself and Marieke who went to a juice bar in Juli is now in the second camp.  There are a few people in the second camp who didn't go to the juice bar however, and so it is not certain that the juice bar is to blame.  It could be though that the sick people who did go to the juice bar infected the others who didn't go to the juice bar.  Hand sanitiser is now indispensable and worth more than its weight in gold.

The people who are or who were so sick that I think they deserve a special mention are

1) Chris P who yesterday was so sick that he didn't go out clubbing till 4am like he usually does on rest days
2) Jason who after the trip to the floating islands this morning was walking up the stairs like a man of twice his age
3) Dennis who has been in bed for one day solid and who still looks like crap
4) Marc who this morning (newly infected) was shivering like a wreck and looked as weak as a newborn
5) Erik (newly infected) who despite winning "The Silent Dutchman" award was even more silent than normal

Hats off to Jason and Erik who despite feeling and looking like death warmed up managed to get themselves on a boat to go and visit the floating islands this morning with the rest of the sickly group that we are.  They didn't want to miss the once in a lifetime opportunity to see the floating islands that they thought it would be.  In retrospect though, the islands are completely ruined by tourism and as commercial as you can possibly get.  It felt like being in Disneyland with puppets putting on a little show for you.  I guess that the people living on the islands have found that tourism is an easy source of money and so overplayed the opportunity to extract money from them.  A little girl comes round and hugs everyone and then sings a song for the group, and the next second her little brother is coming round with a hat.  If you want to see authentic floating islands where the people are not just acting like puppets then you need to go a bit further afield the guide told us.  But on those islands the flocks of tourists are not welcome.  Maybe it woud be possible to get there independently and charm the locals into allowing you to visit them, but we just didn't have the time to do that.  Despite the rampant overcommericalisation of the islands it is interesting to go and have a quick look just to see how they are constructed and how the people live on them.  You don't need more than ten minutes on the islands to do that though, and then the puppetry begins.

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