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Published: April 7th 2014
Our 1st clear view from bus
Days 47 We farewelled Arequipa with another early start and a long day on the road. 7 am to local bus station for a 6 hrs trip by local bus to Juliaca before a change to a private bus for a few more hrs for an expected 8 pm arrival in Cuzco. It's unfortunate but our free day in Cuzco tomorrow is a Sunday where many places are likely to be closed just like when we arrived in Cuenca.
We briefly heard before leaving that the Tungurahua volcano at Banos, where we were 2 weeks ago, is in a far more active stage with some concerns for a significant eruption. Along with our earthquake aftershock in Arequipa we are getting the full South American geological experience.
If ever you want a 12 hour bus ride the trip from Arequipa to Cuzco is the one to do it on. The 1st leg was quite scenic being dry, rocky & treeless barren in an Australian outback way except we had the far off deep blue Andes on one side & smaller hills on the other.
The trip was climbing all the way until flattening out to a wide & tufty
grass grazing country with very small communities scattered along the way.
About half way we arrived at Juliaca, a very ugly town. Quite large (300,000), dirty from dust & appalling pot-holed roads. As elsewhere all the buildings are half completed as some tax break exists while remaining incomplete. As the town is close to Bolivia it is also known for smuggling across the border from the cheaper country for resale at Peru prices. To complete the trifecta it is also renowned for copying high-end clothing & electronic brands and passing them off as the real thing.
Once loaded on our new bus ugly Juliaca quickly passed & opened out to expansive farm lands including what looked like quinwa in various stages of growth. The high point of the trip was 4300 mtrs at the border between Puno & Cuzco provinces. At one small town the road cut though a narrow valley flanking a clean running river & railway line. The scene was a picture postcard village that seemed far more prosperous than any we had seen so far.
In late afternoon as the sun was setting behind the Andes the contrasting light & shade effect on the
surrounding hills was amazing. Sun would burst through the lower gaps of the Andes & give a golden glow to the tops of the eastern side hills while the lower part of the hills were in shadow as well as the non facing higher ridges. Once the sun was completely behind the Andes, nature still had a card to display. The setting sun briefly gave a deep pink hue to the clouds in the still bright sky above the now black outline of the mountain peaks. Beautiful!
Along the way & as elsewhere in the country many women still wear the brightly coloured & intricately embroiled traditional clothes as part of their normal working clothes. All wear panama type hats with their jet black hair usually tied in double pig tails. While quite small as a race they are very strong & if they are not hauling heavy loads of produce or other goods for sale on their backs they are carrying a baby while working. They seem to sit all day beside the roadside or in market stalls hoping to sell knitted goods, trinkets etc without much obvious success but still have a smile when tourists mainly browse.
Women also do all the herding as often the men go off to work in the mines, located long distances from their homes. Girls are also prettily dress whereas by contrast the boys & men are drab & somewhat grubby.
The last 2 hrs we drove in darkness & most wishing the drive to end but at least it gave me a chance to blog under torch light.
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