Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Peru, Chapter 5 - Puno and Lake Titicaca

Just when you thought there couldn't be any more photos from my trip to Peru, here is the next chapter - Puno! After Machu Picchu, we took off the next day to Puno, the Peruvian city next to Lake Titicaca. Though our hearts were thoroughly sad to leave, as we just had way too much fun galavanting around Cusco with our new friends until three in the morning. Yes, thats right, 3 am. On the same day that we woke up at 3 am to go to hike Machu Picchu. That just might be the craziest thing I've ever done. (Did I just confess to you all that I am a complete nerd? Its true, I've never stayed up that long in my life. Not  for a crazy party or an all night study cramming session or to feed a screaming baby. Which means I was pretty boring in college and have no kids. Win?)

We had dinner (Alpaca Steak), and then proceeded to entertain an entire nightclub with our ridiculous dance moves. I don't think I've laughed so much and danced so late in years. It was incredible! 

{3 am and not done yet! We must clean up well, as we hardly recognized each other after a shower!}

We fell into bed just after 3:30, and the shrill alarms on our phones woke us up just 3 hours later, which felt like 15 minutes later. Consequences. My body rewarded me with a nasty cold that hung on for 2 weeks after that, but it was so worth it

 {The reward for waking up at 6:30 to catch our morning bus was this amazing breakfast at NiƱos Hotel, all for less than $6 each.}

We successfully arrived to the bus station in plenty of time to catch our 8 am bus to Puno. Just in case any of you reading are planning to travel from Cusco to Puno, don't worry too much about the bus situation. I worried way too much about it, which was unnecessary. We chose to take a non-tourist bus (operated by a local company called Tranzela) for 50 soles each. Buying tickets online ahead of time for this is next to impossible, so wait until you get to Cusco and buy them at the bus station, preferably a day ahead of time. There is a tourist office on the main square with helpful English speaking employees who can advise you on this as well. I know we paid a little more than necessary for our tickets, since we bought them at one of the many travel agency stores posted around the main square in Cusco, but it worked better for our schedule to pay the 10 extra soles for the convenience. Our other option was to take a tourist bus, which stopped at several interesting sites along the way, for $50. We opted to save money and have a shorter bus trip, which I'm glad for.

{This gorgeous view from the bus window eased our sadness about leaving Cusco - a little bit}
{So did the effortlessly hilarious parade of moto-taxis in each town we past!}

After 6 hours or so, we arrived in Puno. To this: 

Treat your ears to the piercing sounds of this woman, trying to sell people bus tickets to Arequipa. Tell me, would you move toward or away from her voice? Ha! 

After not sleeping much, I was a royal grump about this lady. She is constant, doesn't stop for a moment. And since we needed to buy tickets to Arequipa, we couldn't escape her. Looking back, it was histerical! But in the moment, I could have punched her right in the face (!) - ask Glenys. Haha!

I digress. 

Back to Puno. Just like Cusco, Puno looks quite uninspiring and monochromatic from a distance, but with enormous Lake Titicaca in the background. Unlike Cusco, it doesn't appear to be hiding any historic, charming, gorgeous neighborhoods beneath that dusty, crumbly exterior. If there are any of those places, we definitely did not find them. But the late evening sun warming the streets made up for that. 

{We ate at the restaurant with the orange sign, La Hosteria - delicioso!}

The next morning, we took a half day tour to the floating Uros Islands. It cost us only $10, and included transportation from our hotel. If only I could remember the name of the tour group. Glenys found them online.

{Leaving Puno on Lake Titicaca, learning about Uros and the lake in run-together English}

{These boats were amazing. They were jokingly referred to as the "Mercedes-Benz" by the family we met}
{Welcoming committee}

Once we arrived on one of the many islands, we sat down to learn about how the islands are created and maintained, and how the people who live there go about their daily lives. Each island is quite small, and has a few families living in small homemade houses there, as well as a President. The kids all go to school via water taxi on a larger island - until they high school, when they commute to Puno. 
The islands themselves float on large bricks of local reed roots, and a new layer of reeds are laid down every fifteen days or so. Tourism is a major source of income for them, as they sell all kinds of little handmade things and offer rides in the "Mercedes Benz" for a small fee. I must confess, it felt a little like a human zoo - which I wasn't such a fan of. But overall, we had a good time. 

{Boats with Puma heads}

We were lucky enough to be chosen by this somewhat awkward local pre-teen to dress in Uro's traditional clothing! Really, we were excited about this. She even carefully chose the colors to coordinate with our outfits. It was pretty great.

After a brief visit to the Capitol Island - which has a small restaurant and a "gift shop", we headed back to Puno. On the way back to the hotel, we walked past this sight:

Doesn't the Triceratops boat look way more fun than the regular old swans? We thought so! Unfortunately for us, we didn't have time to find out, as we had to catch an afternoon bus to the last stop of our whirlwind Peru trip - Arequipa!

More on that next week.



1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your grateful informations, am working in Tourism Portal, so it will be helpful info for my works.



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