Cuzco to Puno by bus

Trip Start Aug 30, 2013
Trip End Oct 05, 2013

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday 23rd September             Cuzco to Puno

We departed the hotel in Cuzco at 7.30am and headed south east.  It took quite a while to get out of the city of Cuzco, then the road followed the Vilcabama River valley through villages, many of which had their own food specialty, for example bread, chicharron (deep fried pork), and roast guinea pig.  Our first stop was at Andahualillas village where we visited the picturesque plaza and the church known as the "Sistine Chapel" of the Americas.  The paintings on the walls and ceiling were amazing. No photos allowed however!  There were temporary platforms set up for the restoration of the ceiling paintings.

Further along we stopped to visit some early Inca ruins called Raqchi.  The design of the temple and houses was completely different from what we had previously seen.  There were also hundreds of round stone silos, a few of which have been restored.
Lunch was next, another excellent buffet.  The bus was a bit quieter after that as many people had a siesta.  The bus climbed over a pass of 4,300m where we had a planned stop to see snow capped mountains and a glacier, but a hail/sleet storm moved in, keeping us on the bus and the stall holders under their tarps.

Our trip through Juliaca was an eye opener for most of us.  Traffic chaos, rubbish everywhere, all buildings partially finished, the main road full of huge pot holes... someone said it was impossible to describe!  Lonely Planet describes it as the armpit of South America.  We decided that was an understatement!  We eventually left the chaos and continued towards Puno where we had a new challenge.  All was going well until we were in a very narrow street and a 4WD was parked and our driver believed it was impossible to go on.  A traffic jam developed behind us and Wendy went off to try and find the bell hops from the hotel who were supposed to be meeting us in the plaza.  She didn't manage to find them, but did find some traffic police who she sent down to the bus.  We all thought they would direct traffic away and clear the chaos, but no, all they were interested in was writing a ticket!  Help appeared from everywhere and there were about 6 people trying to help Luis, the driver, negotiate his way through.  He eventually got the bus through with millimetres to spare and a roar went up both inside the bus and outside. 

Our guide for our tour tomorrow was waiting for us in the hotel to give us all the details and answer questions.  After that we went to our rooms briefly before meeting for a delicious dinner on the 10th floor the hotel.  There was a great view of city lights and also of quite a bit of lightning.  
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