This story is (mostly) fiction. But it’s quite entertaining if you use your imagination. And who knows? It could have been true.
After several days of waking up early and doing tours, not to mention a couple of overnight tours on buses that were actually quite comfortable, my friend and I arrived at Lake Titicaca. Lake Titicaca is a very large lake and it is bordered by two countries – Bolivia and Peru. Each country claims greater ownership (in terms of physical size) of the lake. This lake is the highest lake in the world (or possibly the highest freshwater lake). We got down there around 8 am and it was originally a rather dreary day. It was kind of cool, rainy and overcast – a lot like Seattle or London. Luckily, things got nicer later on in the day.
You can take a few different tours on the lake but the one we went on was for about 3 hours or so. You see, in Lake Titicaca they have manmade floating islands made out of a substance that I shall call “straw”. It’s not actually straw, but it looks like it and I cannot remember the name of what it really is. They are fairly large hunks of straw and people live on them. They live in little, small huts also made out of straw – other than the roofs, of course. We went and talked to the islanders and I bought a few trinkets and doodads, as is my custom whenever I go to a developing country.
We wandered around for a bit, went inside the various huts where I saw how people lived. “How in the world do people live in these huts?” I wondered. “They are so small for a family! And how do they power the television?” Eventually, it came time to leave this island and go to another island where presumably we would see more of the same. The only way to get across from one island to the other is by boat, and so that’s what we did.
Halfway through the boat ride, they made an announcement. “We are asking for a fee to travel from one island to the next. The cost is twenty soles!” (Note to readers: this part of the story is true, and twenty soles is about $7 US.) How convenient that we had no place to go and were at their mercy when we had to pay up the cost of travel. They certainly had a lot more leverage than do the food vendors at major sports events where they charge you $14 for a hot dog. I paid up because (a) the cost wasn’t that prohibitive, and (b) what else was I going to do? Say I wouldn’t pay?
After I paid, I looked off into the distance where I saw another reed boat group of tourists going some place else. They were clearly going to another island, not the same one we were going to nor the one that we came from. I also saw something else – a motor boat charging by, looking like it was going to come very close to the group of tourists. Nobody else seemed to notice except for me. I watched and assumed that the boat would change course so that it’s wake wouldn’t come too close to the boat, and that it would easily by the other tourists. But it didn’t; it stayed on the same course. And worse yet, as it got closer, it looked like it was going to go into the path of the other reed boat.
I looked closer. I couldn’t tell for sure because of the angle I was looking at. It looked like that boat was charging right for the tourists. In fact, I was pretty sure that was directly where it was headed for! But everyone else was looking the other way, listening to the guide as he talked about something or other. The motor boat got closer and closer, and I started to panic. What was that guy doing? Didn’t he see where he was headed? A large collision like that would send the reed boat tipping and probably break it up and likely cause a lot of injuries to the other passengers.
I decided to take action. I stood up in the reed boat and promptly lost my balance, falling back down. Apparently, boats like the one I was in are tippy. Who would have thought? Everyone in my boat started to look at me. The guide said something to me in Spanish. “No habla espangol,” I said. I’m fluent in over six million forms of communication, but Spanish isn’t one of them. I really need to fix that one day. I got up again. This time I kept my balance and didn’t fall down. “Hey!” I shouted at the boat, waving my arms, knowing full well they couldn’t hear me, and probably didn’t see me either. “Hey!” I shouted again, waving my arms even more like a maniac. “Watch out!”
The guide in my boat started saying something to me again, I suspect it was something like sit down. I didn’t care, some crazy lunatic was heading straight for the other boat. I tried to point him towards the motor boat bearing down on the reed boat of passengers, but he wouldn’t turn around. He just focused on me. It was kind of like a professional wrestling match when the bad guys are cheating but the dumb referee keeps his back turned away to nitpick over something else.
I had to take more drastic action. I looked around for an object to throw. I looked at my souvenirs; hmm, can’t throw those away because I paid good money for them (like, $5 US worth). I then looked at my friend, who wasn’t paying attention, either. He was listening to his iPod, kind of in his own little world. I reached down and grabbed his iPod. He didn’t have time to react because my ninja-like skills sprung into action. I wound up, and with a sense of accuracy and power that would put Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre to shame – combined – I hurled the iPod at the other boat which was at least 200 feet away. It was an awe-inspiring sight. The iPod hummed nicely threw the air, somehow curved around two objects and hit the driver of the boat square in the side of the head, knocking off his sunglasses and jolting his head back, and to the left. Back, and to the left. Back, and to the left. Success! It looked like he grunted and at the last minute swerved out of the way of the other boat. His boat made a large wave but it was nothing the reed boat couldn’t handle.
The iPod, after hitting the driver in the side of the head, landed in the water. “Hey!” cried my friend. “I got that for my birthday!”
I looked back to him. “I’ll buy you a Zune HD,” I replied.
As the boat sped away, I looked back at the driver. He was too far away to see, but I could tell he was staring at me. I was very suspicious now and was thinking that the events of the past few days were now starting to tie together. I knew that before this trip was done, we would be meeting again.