Lake Titicaca

Puno, Peru

In 1999 I was in Puno working as a dog’s body for one of the local travel agencies that ran tours out on to Lake Titicaca visiting the Uros (floating islands), Taquile and Amantani as well as tours to the chullpas (burial tombs) at Sillustanti. My main job was the development of a restaurant for the agency catering for tourists, the other stuff, meeting tourists at their hotels, sending them off on their tours at the port, and occasionally getting out on to the lake itself to visit Taquile Island, a place I love.

But this story is about a ghost. While I was at the port one morning, I heard a loud ‘chuff come from behind’. I was alerted. Silence, then another ‘chuff’. It suddenly dawned on me exactly what I had heard, it was the sound of a boiler coming to life. More silence, then another ‘chuff’.

I ran up the wharf to the bus and grabbed my camera and ran back. In those days I was still able to run.

The first signs of life "Chuff!" and smoke rose from the smokestack

There on the mooring across the way was an old steam boat. “Chuff!” and a cloud of smoke left the smokestack.

I was watching a ghost come to life. The Yavari hadn’t moved under it’s own steam in 40 years. I had heard they were restoring and rebuilding her, but apart from that, I knew nothing. “Chuff!” louder and stronger, more haunting, less silence and then “Chuff!” The chuffs got closer and soon, about an hour later, she was building up steam.

I was watching history.

The Yavari returning to port after its first trial

Eventually the Yavari threw off its moorings and was off sedately around Puno Bay. I guess it was about an hour later, she came back to her moorings.

The above photos were ones that I had managed to salvage from an old HD where I had scanned the old negatives, the quality is poor, but it’s real.

You can read more of the Yavari story