Thursday, July 2, 2009

Day Five - June 14th, 2009 - Drive to Puno

Juan picks us up at 7 AM for the drive to Sillustani and Puno.  The drive starts by backtracking our way out of beautiful Colca Valley.  Then it's on through beautiful mountains, past many llama and alpaca herders, past a huge and beautiful lake with flamingos, and through a couple of small cities.  We reach Sillustani in early afternoon.  Here there is a beautiful, relatively well preserved Pre-Inca and Inca burial ground on a small, high plateau overlooking two lakes.  

The architecture of the Chullpas (funeral towers) is incredible.  

The audacity, to even think that they could build this way, so tall, with stones that weigh several tons each, unbelievable.  We have a guide for a 1-hr tour here, but he sorta sucks.  He doesn't know the history well, and sort of gives us a bunch of vague baloney.  Still really cool though.  In the town that has developed just below the burial site, there is..

SURPRISE!  a festival going on.  

We don't stop there though, and head on to Puno, about another half hour.

Puno is a fairly large city.  It's built over ancient terraces, on the edge of Lake Titicaca.  Arriving at our hotel, we say goodbye to our excellent and personable driver of the last few days, Juan.  Our hotel - Joya del Titicaca - is a little run-down, and we consider looking for another place for the next 2 nights, but it's not that bad, the price is low, and the water gets hot, so we roll with it.  It's also right in the thick of things in the most touristy section of Puno, which is really convenient for walking.  I've vowed that I will try to do something to stay in shape during our Peru visit, and while Allison is in the shower I try to find enough space on the floor of our tiny room to get a workout in.  I do about 5 pushups and I'm so out of breath from the altitude that I declare it a wash.  Oh well.

We stroll out to Calle Lima, a pedestrian-only street, filled with shops, restaurants, internet cafes, markets, etc.  It's nice to be on a no-car street.  City traffic here is semi-lawless, and a bit harrowing, especially when you are trying to see the sights.  We stop for an excellent early dinner at La Casona.  We stroll a few shops, spend some time in one of the many internet shops, and visit the ATM, which becomes one of our favorite things to do in Peru.  One of our objectives here is a tour of some islands of interest on Lake Titicaca.  The manager of our hotel, and probably owner, Yolanda sets us up with a tour that includes everything - bus from hotel to docks, boat with guide, and a bus back home.

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