Our 10 hour train trip from Cusco to Puno was just great! You´d think 10 hours would be a long, long day but it was thoroughly enjoyable and the scenery was spectacular. Something like the wild,wild west. The train consisted of 3 cars for 1st class and 2 cars tourist class and an observation car with bar. Our seats were two big straight back comfy chairs set before a raised table for our lunch service and a great view from the wide windows to our left. We calculated we traveled the 250 miles at 25 miles per hour! The lunch was great. By the way, as the lunch appetizer, I chose the tomato soup, and Dennis ordered the roast alpaca. It was prepared as thinly sliced pieces of medium rare meat with a sweet potato puree. After the first bite, Dennis´ first words were, "It tastes just like a sweater!" No way,I tried it and it was very tasty. Aside from a fashion show with 2 models showing the beautiful Peruvian knitwear, (a complimentary pisco sour eased the loud 80´s music for the catwalk in the observation car), there was also a local music presenation by two different groups.
more terraced fields
the time we arrived in Puno, the gateway to tours of the floating reed islands on Lake Titicaca, we were ready to crash. We ran the gauntlet of taxi drivers at the train station and made straight to the hotel. Yes, Puno is higher in altitude (3856 meters) than Cusco and we did notice it, especially since our room was on the third floor. We had planned to depart for Arequipa the following morning, but discovered there was some sort of strike or disruption on the roads preventing the long distance buses from traveling. Instead, we decided to hire a taxi to take us the 32 kilometers there and back to visit the nearby site of Sillustani. This is a site of of burial towers built by the Colla tribe on an island surrounded by a lake during the Inca occupation in the 15th century. Along the route we there were numerous displays of protest from the previous day... large and small rocks, sometimes glass scattered in the lane to block passage. Most drivers were just driving around it. Though we did see an anti-Bush message written on the road at one spot. Once at the site, it was absolutlely
See our next hike in the background
amazing, both in the craftsmanship and the scale. We spent an hour walking the site while the taxi driver waited for us. On the way way back, the driver stopped at a local Colla home to visit a family. It seems this is often done with tours groups as a way to bring additional income to these self sufficient campesinos living in the middle of no where. It was just amazing to personally see how they do live under such basic conditions. Nothing is wasted. The following day, we had a great lunch before our 6 hour bus trip to Arequipa at a neuvo andean cuisine restaurant owned by a Brit. This guy used to live in Argentina for 5 years and write financial columns for the local press. As a result, he and Dennis hit it off and were soon trading information on commodity investments! The bus trip to Arequipa was comfortable and uneventful despite the driver passing every vehicle along the route. Fortunately it got dark and we couldn´t see the drop offs into the canyon several thousand feet below. Then we could relax and enjoy the bus video movie - a chinese kung fu movie dubbed in
We made it
Spanish. We´ve met some travelers from Bozeman, Montana and we´ll meet tonight for an Argentinean steak dinner. Looking forward to that! wishing everyone a great July.
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