5am breakfast on a coolish Cusco morning meant a sluggish energy start but a realtively traffic free trip to the tourist bus station. We climbed aboard the bus to find plenty of room, blankets and water………..the 10 hour trip was also going to be broken with 4 stops, so we settled in and were soon out in the countryside. The large shared fresh bread provided by the bus guide seemed to help …. not gf sadly.
Our first stop was a complete example of “don’t judge a book by its cover”. The church at Andahuaylillas offers a simple front to the town square, but wow! The inside is so unexpected. No photos were allowed, but we were really grateful for the generous gift of a dvd of the interior……and wow, what an interior! So much silver, Spanish influence in the architecture of the baroque and moorish sections of the ceiling, frescoes and paintings and the occasional nod to the Incan culture the Spanish squashed out. What a jewel! The grounds were immaculate and the square had an amazing tree with what appeared to be old man’s beard.
Stop 2 was the complex of Raqchi……dedicated to the god Wiraqocha….a complex of granaries, water storage, fortified wall and the part of the 6000km Inca trail which connected the various Sth American communities via a series of youth runners who passed messages along a 25 km stretch of the trail each.
We were gradually climbing higher and reached the highest point of the Altiplano (High Plains) and looked out on the 3400m heights of the Andes. This area has the largest herds of alpacas and sheep in Peru and we saw rather isolated villages and poignant reminders of the road hazards when people were placing flowers on roadside graves for Mother’s Day. Road maintenance seems to be very haphazard and more noted for its absence than its progress. Often it seemed as if the tuk-tuk taxis would disappear in to gaping holes………but the many mechanics and tyre shops do a roaring trade!
We stopped for the typical buffet lunch then the bus reversed in a quaint narrow village with a great museum housing pre-Incan statues and pottery….Puca Pucara. ….and its coffee shop for more cocoa lollies to help with the increasing altitude. The full cocoa chocolates sent in the bag as well.
Then there was another couple of hours and a bit more on the long haul to our hotel in Puno lying snugly in the cliff along the banks of the lake we had been hearing about for so long – Lake Titicaca. The joy of stretching out and enjoying the view of the lake at sunset was soooo good.
The hotel is located quite a way from Puno’s centre, so it was off to the in house restaurant and a yellow potato soup with alpaca shards for me and LSM had the saliva inducing trio of seafood degustations……..and declared it to be delicious. The lake is best known for its trout……. and the anticipation was building for exploring the lake the next day.