16-Jan-2004 -- Drive Around the World Expedition Team Bags Confluence
Confluence 16 S latitude and 70 W longitude was bagged 16 January, 2004, by the nine-member crew of the Drive Around the World LONGITUDE Expedition and a tour guide/philanthropist from Puno, Peru.
The day started with a team outing to the famous Reed Islands of Uros. Our documentary team filmed the visit, and the nine of us had a great time talking to our tour guide, Mairo.
After our tour of the island, we returned to our hotel to prepare for another exciting journey, our first confluence. We’d had such a great time at Uros with Mairo that we decided to invite him along. He had no clue what a confluence was, but he agreed to participate, anyway. He met us at about 4pm, not having a clue what he was getting into. I think he actually thought that he was taking us on a tour of some old funerary tower ruins. When he finally did realize what we were doing, he said that it was "completely crazy" but that he liked it.
So we all piled into our four Certified Land Rover Discovery expedition vehicles and drove about twenty-five kilometers out of Puno. It was pouring rain and our fearless leader, Nick, GPS in hand, was carefully monitoring the spot at which we would have to turn off the road. When the time, came he called the cars to a halt over our new radios. We all pulled over and went to check out where we would be going, which was basically swampland. At first Nick was insistent on us walking almost a mile out into the swampy field, but with a little encouragement, the team convinced him that we could drive it. We all piled into two vehicles.
Nancy went ahead on foot as our scout, to tell us when ponds and whatnot were in front of us. Eventually, we came to a point that Nancy said we could not cross. Adam was disbelieving of this, so he took off his shoes and waded across the stream that was our obstacle. We all agreed that the creek was shallow enough to cross, and from then on, it was complete off-road mayhem. Everybody packed into two vehicles, and we were off.
We raced across the swamp towards the confluence, blasting through ponds and ravines like we had nothing better to do. Our car had a great advantage; Nancy had taken a spot on the rear ladder where she could see over the top of the car and yell directions at us so we could avoid the pitfalls of the swamp. The other car did not think to do this, and within twenty minutes they were stuck in an irrigation ditch.
It was good and dark by then, and we spent a good half an hour in the rain digging the car out, and then, thanks to our Extreme Outback Recovery Kits, we yanked the car to safety. For another twenty minutes, we zigzagged around pond-sized puddles in the direction of our GPS arrow. A few more minutes ripping through the swamp, and we bagged our first confluence. The team all got back out of our cars in the rain and Neil took some pictures of us with the GPS to prove what we had done.
We had a blast on our little excursion and, and each of us is looking forward to doing it again. After all was said and done, we piled back in the cars and headed back to Puno for a dinner of Peru’s traditional delicacy, “cuy”, which is a nice word for “guinea pig.”
Weather: Cold, dark, raining
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Drive Around the World
Logbook for January 16th, Day 77
Start: Puno, Peru, Time: 4:00 p.m. N: 15* 50.480' W: 70* 01.706'
Finish: Puno, Peru Time: 10:00 p.m. N: 15* 50.480' W: 70* 01.706'
Notes: Today was epic. From 0930 to about 1230, we toured Puno's biggest tourist attraction, the floating islands of Uros. There are an indigenous people who have lived on floating reed islands on Lake Titikaka since the days of the Inca. We were amazed to visit these people on their islands and had a hard time imagining what it would be like to spend your whole life on an island that is smaller than a high school infield. You can't run on the reeds that make up the ground, and you have no hope of biking. You'd spend most of your days fishing and tending to the islands if you are a man, and women would spend most of their time watching the children, cooking, and making handicrafts to sell to tourists. After the Uros visit, we searched for and found, with the help of our Garmin GPS, a point where lines of longitude and lines of latitude crossed. It was in the middle of a farmer's field on the outskirts of Puno. The day was good. Tomorrow we leave for Bolivia.(N.O.)