Puno – Lake of Trash
My itinerary through Peru ends at the shore of the Titicaca Lake in Puno, in many ways this place will become an end destination.
My first day in Puno strolling around the streets, I notice how narrow and congested they are. However, there is a railway crossing the city, which is remarkable in Peru, even larger in South America where most of the railways have been destructed over history.
‘The most expensive railroad trip you can take,’ laughs a man in Puno, he is right, the train cost about ten times the price of a bus ticket. For sure, the train might be faster and more comfortable, but some busses here offer better services than airplanes, while the black smoke spread by the train makes me put a question mark behind the term ‘sustainable transport’.
Zigzagging with the railroads, walking towards the lake a non-pleasant smell undermines the wonderful kissing of the blue water and the blue sky. This is the highest lake of the world, I can feel it in the air, my lungs and heart have to pump harder, and the freezing cold gives the sunshine another meaning.
Walking until the shore of the lake, it becomes clear where the smell comes from. Degradating plastic and other trash are floating between the water plants, spreading an awful smell. It stinks. The sprawl of waste in nature is a common problem in the region, especially plastic objects undermine the natural treasures.
Plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic lighters, empty cups and plates of take away food, candy wraps, cans, and plenty more undefinable objects are floating in front of me. And not to imagine the micro particulars of plastic that are invisible, but not less harmful for the environment. The advertisements of ceviche and grilled trout look less seductive now; imagining the fish swallowing the plastic particulars together with their food, eventually dying of an overload of plastic in their tummies, or the ones who survive being poisonous after being poisoned because of the chemical reactions caused by the rotten plastic.
Still the lake has some other stories to tell, about sustainability and adaptation, which I’ll tell you in the next blogpost, when taking of on the water.
At the same time the lake became an end destination, not alone of my time in Peru and the stories the old ruins had to tell about the future of humanity; the stories I would have loved to share with my grandfather, but his life ended when I was in Puno.
I wrote him a letter, made a boat of leaves and a rose, and let the water carry it to him.
Sitting at the shore of the lake, watching the boat taking off, to wherever he’ll join my path, the wind whispers his stories about the Big War, about the History, while my tears become his when he denounced injustice or history writing as such, the images are reflected in the surface of the lake, and I’m hoping for just one more story. I’m sure there are more stories he would have liked to tell us, and he will tell us, we just have to listen more carefully.