What I visited between Cusco and Puno

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.

The Sistine Chapel of (South) America, San Pedro de Andahuaylillas

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 all the difference. The place itself I didn’t find it much intriguing, but the story behind it is indeed interesting.

According to our guide, fear was/is a method to convert people. Most natives did not get converted into christianism because of the new believes or the bible. But because of fear. Churches were not meant to be cozy and welcoming, instead, to be fearful. A church is cold, and even the sounds of the organ can induce fear.

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Imagine a person who never saw a church in his life before, stepping inside one for the first time. A small door that leads to a really open and cold place, the instinct is to cross if through the sides, to feel more protected, instead of crossing it in “open air” through the center. And now imagine the pipes of an organ blowing sound, inside such a big room. This isn’t a welcoming place, this is a place of fear, and that’s how the managed to convert the locals into christianism.

A stop at the Inca site of Raqch’i

The next stop was indeed a MUST SEE place, that we hadn’t plan to visit before our travel. The village’s name is Raqch’i, 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…

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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…

A stop at 4200 meters altitude at La Raya Pass

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 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.

One last stop before Puno in Pucará

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).

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Passing through Juliaca

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

Street in Juliaca
Street in Juliaca

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…

Final stop, Puno!

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.

This being sorted out, time for health! We had to buy 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, though 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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