Inka Express Bus Tour to Puno

Trip Start Jul 15, 2010
Trip End Aug 04, 2010

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Flag of Peru  ,
Thursday, July 29, 2010

This was a long day, 9.5 hours on the tour bus, but there were sight-seeing stops included. 

 First stop was the church of Andahuaylillas, referred to as "Sistine Chapel of South America". The baroque interior style of the church was quite elaborate and the ceiling was decorated with carved panels covered in gold leaf. Next, we stopped at Raqchi, where we saw a monumental Inca church, the Temple of the Wiracocha God. It was there that Malcolm bought for me a stuffed animal alpaca only because he was afraid I would try to bring a real one back on the plane. Later we had a buffet lunch stop  at  Sicuani, where we were entertained by local musicians. After that, was a stop at La Raya, our 1/2 way point, at a high altitude of 12,000'.  Next, onto Pukara, the most important and oldest ceremonial center of the Altiplano.  

 Finally, we arrived in Puno, although it was a rough-looking city that I was not enthusiastic about.  Looking off into the side streets from the main road, one could see only dirt roads with piles of garbage, older model cars in poor condition, laundry on lines strung between the buildings, and people wandering about.  It was here that we saw a type of vehicle made from the base of a motorcycle, but with two back wheels and a cab enclosing it into a 3-seater.  Some people had bicycles with a 2-seat bench mounted to the front for taxiing people around. Others were bikes or 3-wheel motorcycles with small truck beds. I got the impression that these vehicles were inexpensive transportation for some or a way to make money for others.  

 The bus trip came to an end at the station in the center of Puno.  Our arrival in Puno marks the end of our very detailed advance travel bookings and begins the part of the trip where Mary & Malcolm decided that planning would be more-or-less spontaneous as long as we made our flights back on time.   

 At the bus station we were solicited by a lady claiming to be a taxi driver who was, in fact, a tour coordinator trolling for business. Malcolm & Mary determined that she had a good deal for things we wanted to see as she took them to her office in the bus station for details.  She coordinated a taxi to take us to our hotel, boat tour tickets for Lake Titicaca, and a bus ride across the border into Bolivia and onto LaPaz. As we rode in the taxi to our hotel in the outskirts of Puno, we could see that some people got rid of their garbage by dumping it in open areas near the lake, and then set it on fire and left it to burn. Thankfully, the Sonesta Posada del Inca Lake Titicaca-Puno Hotel was like a luxury palace far away from the ugly city and we had a wonderful meal and restful night. Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to do laundry here either, so it continued to be carried around in a tightly sealed garbage bag.

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