Puno, Peru – 22 and 24, 25 & 26 April 2011

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April 28th 2011
Published: April 29th 2011
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We left Cusco at 8.00 am by one of the very comfy busses which showed movies – helps pass the time away for a 6 hour bus trip. The Peruvian countryside is beautiful. Green plains edged by the Andes, along with seeing many villages. There is more snow on the mountains as elevation is higher.

We saw a lot of cemeteries in the villages with some lavish headstones. Much agriculture was seen and the unfinished mud brick homes were always predominant. They are unfinished with steel reinforcing rods sticking out of the building’s roofs waiting for the next floor to be built, but never seems to happen! The main reason is that as soon as a house is finished, they have to pay taxes. One way of not paying !

Puno is a city in southeastern Peru, located on the shore of Lake Titicaca. It is the capital city of the Puno Region and the Puno Province with a population of approximately 120,000. The city was established in 1668 by viceroy Pedro Antonio Fernandez de Castro as capital of the province of Paucarcolla with the name San Juan Bautista de Puno. The name was later changed to San Carlos de Puno, in honor of king Charles 11 of Spain. Puno has several churches dating back from the colonial period, they were built to service the Spanish population and evangelize the natives.

Today, Puno is an important agricultural and livestock region; particularly of South American llamas and alpacas. When we went to restaurants we noticed more of these meats on the menu. Much of the city economy relies on the black market, fueled by cheap goods smuggled in from Bolivia. Puno has been designated to become a Special Economic Zone or "Zona Económica" by Peru's president, Alan Garcia. Puno is served by the Inca Manco Capac International Airport in nearby Juliaca.
Puno is situated between the shores of Lake Titicaca and the mountains surrounding the city. There is less than 5 kilometers distance of flat land between the shores and the foothills, which has caused the growing city to continue to expand upwards onto the hillsides. As a result, the town's less developed and poorest areas, which are high on the hillsides, often, have very steep streets, which are generally not paved and cannot be accessed by cars.

Up one of these streets is the Kuntur Wasi viewpoint, which has a huge metal sculpture of a condor. There are some 700 steps to climb to reach the sculpture but the view across the city and Lake Titicaca beyond was breathtaking.

We walked down the mall to a restaurant for a snack before a briefing by the guide who will take us to the islands on Lake Titicaca. After the briefing, both Tom and I had an alpaca dish and a pisco sour. We were joined by 4 other members of our group who just had coffee and cake. Then 3 of us went to another restaurant and had coffee and chocolate torte. Yum!

While on the mall we saw a procession similar to the Easter parade that we saw in Cusco but it only had a Mary statue. In a small square there was also a brass band playing with over 100 people sitting around listening.

The next day we went to Lake Titkaka and the Uros Islands which I will write a separate blog on.
After coming back from the islands on the 24 April, we were all looking forward to our hot shower.

Tom and I walked down the Mall and took
More of the brass bandMore of the brass bandMore of the brass band

The squares are used frequently for entertainment
some photos of that and the Main Square. We stopped off at a 24 hour coffee cafe and had a great cappuccino. We had a group meeting at 7.00pm and straight after we all went out to dinner. The great thing about this restaurant was there was live entertainment. There was a Spanish band playing and there were a number of different performances from people from the Islands, Cusco and Puno. They danced in really colourful costumed. One performance was 3 fellows dressed up as condors and their dance was pretty energetic. It was fantastic. The food was wonderful as well. Tom had pumpkin soup, and alpaca. I had alpaca with magnificent passionfruit sauce, red onions and capsicum and chips, followed by white chocolate mousse – yummy!

After the dinner a dozen of us went to a night club and had a great time dancing to 70s and 80s and techno music, catching up with other tourists. There were not many locals there. We had a great time.

The next day (25 April) we were going to Copacabana in Bolivia. The plan was to leave the hotel at 3.00pm by van to catch the bigger bus for our
Dinner entertainmentDinner entertainmentDinner entertainment

The following photos of dancing team from Cusco, Puno and Islands in Lake Titikaka
3 hour trip. We got to the bus station and found that there was a bus strike in support of Bolivian miners trying for better work and wage conditions and levels. Even if we could find a bus to catch, there were demonstrations at the Bolivian boarder not letting busses through. So we got back in the van and returned to our hotel in Puno for the night with the plan to leave for La Paz at 5.30am and not go to Copacabana. This is what we did. That night back in Puno, we all had a lovely dinner...yes we are eating our way around South America.

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