South America

What I visited between Cusco and Puno

Day 8, our way to Puno! We had to wake quite early, though the jet lag was still helping us with that, and we went by bus from Cusco to Puno. But since the way to Puno has a lot to see, why not using that opportunity to actually learn and live more about Peru? So, unlikely of what you might think, we actually took another touristic bus…, but this time the guide was actually really good! A pity I didn’t write down his name, because he deserves to be recognized.

Our first stop in San Pedro de Andahuaylillas (link only in Spanish), also known as the Sistine Chapel of (South) America. I wouldn’t rate as high as trip advisor, but probably worth a stop with a good guide like the one we had, it makes the difference. The place itself I didn’t find it much intriguing, but the story behind it is indeed interesting.

The next stop was indeed a MUST SEE place, that we hadn’t plan to visit before our travel. The village’s name is Raqchi, I think everything there is a must see, and the amount of theories makes that place one of the most interesting places I’ve seen there.

What I visited between Cusco and Puno
What I visited between Cusco and Puno

The architecture is a mix of architectures used by two different people, the Incas and I believe the Quechua (don’t trust this, I am not sure about the details). The main street is also quite impressive, apparently during the Winter Solstice, that street doesn’t have shadows due to its orientation with the Sun. How those guys did that??

As I said, I was really impressed by that village. But like everything nice, there is always a but…, and the but here are stupid tourists (not me, this time). While taking photos, I was bugged all the time by the same woman telling me that I should give money to the natives, even if I was not pointing my camera at them… but we’ll get there in a later post…

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And lunch time! We had a buffet, and for dessert some people also had llama spit! They were annoying the animals, and they got it! Not so funny though…

The third stop (not counting with lunch) was at the 4200 meters high! I really felt the altitude in my head and in my whole body! It is an insane feeling of a very strange tireless hard to describe… And again, photos and paying for photos… This time we made clear that we had no money, they joined us anyway for the photo (see photo) and after, guess what? Asking for money…

Sellers by the roadside at 4200 meters altitude
Sellers by the roadside at 4200 meters altitude

That place is Raya Pass, and as you can see through that link, the train passes there. Something I found odd was the amount of graveyards by the road to Puno, some quite far away from the nearest town. I didn’t ask, I don’t know the reason.

The last stop before Puno was Pucará, an archeological site quite destroyed by the catholic church (I’ll refrain from personal opinions here). The Museum is nice, but for me the ruins are more interesting to walk around, also the church (architecture, of course).

On our way to Puno we passed through a city named Juliaca, I remember we commented how dirty that place is and the look of “under construction” that it had/have. We were far from imagining that we’d have to pass there again… That city is a “hub” city, that city exists only because of its airport that is in the flattest area “near” Puno, and the reason it looks like under construction is because there is a hole (not just one) in the Peruvian law that if your house is not fully built, you don’t have to pay a house-tax. So, it was odd to see a lot of buildings that from outside they were not even painted, and that we could see that from inside they were almost luxurious… Smart people…

Street in Juliaca
Street in Juliaca

Arriving in Puno, taking care of the basics. Hostel and thinking about the next day. About the hostel, our first choice was closed, so we tried the second one that had also a tourism agency, therefore, we planned the next day to Lake Titicaca. These being solved, time for health! Buying carbon pills to help our system to recover, and it helps. Just one thing missing: FOOD! Tajana was really feeling sick, so I had a romantic dinner with Ramón, we both ate, I couldn’t even look at his plate! I really don’t mind trying to eat different things, but the way that they served guinea pig it really looked like a rat in a plate. Not that way…, not that way…

We were really tired, waking up early, probably still some effects of the jet lag… so going to sleep at 20:45…, another long day was ahead of us…

By Gil Sousa

Portuguese expat in Cork, traveler and food enthusiastic.

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