Published: May 17th 2011May 17th 2011
My Peru adventure has drawn to a close. Back in the U.S. since May 15, I now have time to write and post just some of the many photos I took on the last leg of our trip. By the way, in addition to reading this present entry, please also click above on "previous entry", which I published "quietly" yesterday. It is all about our second and third days in the Cuzco area.
Following our stay in Cuzco, we left by coach for the 8-hour drive to Puno, the largest city on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Along the way, we stopped at a local baker's, saw how roof tiles are made from mud, and visited the ruins of the Inca temple at Raqchi.
While in the Puno area, we spent 4 nights at a hotel in the small town of Chucuito, which is south of Puno on the road to the Bolivian border. Chucuito has two colonial churches, but its main attraction is its Inca fertility temple and large stone phalluses!
While in the area, we visited, and had lunch with, a local Aymara community. The Aymara are the people who inhabit the Lake Titicaca area and speak a language
round bread from Cuzco area
Marco bought several loaves to give to some of the local people we met while driving to Puno
also called Aymara. Our interpreter was our local guide, Broz. Our tour leader, Marco, doesn't speak Aymara. He speaks his native Quechua (which is an official language in Peru), Spanish and English. He and Broz communicate in Spanish.
We also visited the pre-Inca ruins of Sillustani and the city of Puno, which is at an elevation of 3830 meters. Unfortunately, as Marco told us, most of the inhabitants save for, and spend more money on, religious celebrations than they do on their homes, which are in bare brick and uncompleted. He also said this is probably for tax breaks, since they pay less property tax on unfinished buildings.
The highlight of our stay in this area was our all-day boat trip on Lake Titicaca. We first visited the "reed floating islands" of the Uros people, who also speak Aymara. After that, we sailed to Taquile Island, home to the Quechua-speaking islanders who are famous for their fine embroidery and weaving.
We left the Puno area on May 14, flying back to Lima from the airport in Juliaca, an ugly, dirty town controlled by "smugglers" of all sorts, as Marco put it. After spending a few hours again at the Jose
Antonio Hotel in Lima, we were shown around the Barranco district of Lima and then had a farewell dinner at the very elegant Costa Verde restaurant on the coast. Most of us then flew back overnight from Lima to our homes in the U.S. via Miami. I was back in San Francisco at noon on May 15--exhausted but thoroughly delighted with the trip, which was made possible by OAT and our very competent and thoughtful tour leader, Marco Luis Aragon Acuna, who gave us so many insights into Peruvian history and culture.
There are more photos below