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Puno, Peru

Written on: Friday December 7th, 2007

A journal entry from: Kevin and Julie's RTW

Location: Puno, Peru

Author: Julie


After spending 3 nights more than we intended in Cusco due to my re-occuring stomach flu, we finally took a night bus to Puno, located east of Cusco, on the shores of Lake Titicaca, one of the world?s highest navigable lakes at 3,860. The 10 hour bus ride was uneventful and we arrived at 8 AM in the morning. Our first sight of the city was when our bus came over the crest, we had been catching glimpses of the Lake Titicaca for the past hour but it was a fantastic sight to finally see the city laid out before us, the port filled with white boats, and the dark blue waters of the vast lake. Puno's importance to the vast Inca empire is reflected in the legend that Manco Capac, the first Inca, rose from the waters of Lake Titicaca, under the orders of the Sun God, to start the Inca Empire, which would be centered in the neighbouring region and city of Cusco.

It?s common for taxi drivers and tour operators to bombard you with offers the moment you get off the bus. We?re used to it now and have come to expect it but it?s still difficult to be nice and friendly when it?s the early morning hours, you?re tired from the bus ride and you?ve just gotten off the bus and haven?t found your bearings yet. I push through the crowd with my backpack and found a quiet place to consult with Kevin about where to go next when a nice man quietly approached us and offered us a hotel brochure. The pictures looked good, it had a promise of hot water and comfortable beds, as well the price of 30 soles was perfect. We took up his offer and followed him to a personal taxi which took us to his hotel. It was basic but the rooms offered everything promised. We crashed in the soft beds and fell asleep.

Upon waking up in the afternoon, we were starved so we headed out on the narrow streets of Puno. One of the first things we noticed was the lack of honking, it was so quiet. We had gotten used to the noise pollution in South America and the lack of sound was strange. Every time a car passed I waited for the honk but it was rare. We stopped to eat at a Chicken Broaster restaurant which are everywhere in Peru. You have the option of regular or extra crispy chicken with fries, a salad and a drink for about 10 soles. It?s a cheap alternative to the Almuerzo set lunches we eat fairly regularly. On any street, every third door is a small hole-in-the-wall restaurant with plastic chairs, posters on the wall and a chalkboard outside with the day?s special. The set lunches come with a soup and usually a plate of ?pollo a la plancha? (pan-fried chicken breast), ?trucha a la plancha? (trout) or ?lomo saltaldo? (beef stir-fry with veggies) for between 2 to 12 soles, depending on where we are. In some areas they also offer ?tallarin de pollo? (noodles with stir-fry chicken and veggies). Everything is good, but plain so a little fried chicken is a nice change.

After lunch, we were still tired and headed back to the hotel. We met Silverio who offered us a good deal on the boat trips out to the islands of Lake Titicaca. This is the most common excursion that travellers come to do. You can choose to go to the port in the early morning hours and buy a ticket to one of the outlying islands for the day with a late afternoon return, or you can choose to stay overnight with a family since none of the islands have hostels. We chose to go with a tour group since there was only a 10 soles difference and an English speaking guide was included. We would be picked up early the next day so we spent our evening packing our overnight bags. We had been warned that it can get quite cold so we brought our winter clothes with us as a precaution. This would be our first family stay and we didn?t know what to expect.