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Puno, Peru

Puno, Peru

Woke up before my alarm and before breakfast would be served. I said, “See ya later”, literally, to Denise and Tamara. Denise was headed to Puno today as well but on another bus. Tamara and Muriel would meet us tomorrow. Muriel later said she looked me good-bye too asleep to speak.

The Plaza de Armas was only a 10 minute walk. It is hard to cross the street in Arequipa. The intersections do not have stop signs or lights. You just have to wait to cross with the traffic going the same directions as they try to cut in. Oscar was waiting for me with my ticket. Even though I knew I paid more for the bus, at least he paid for my cab fare of S.8.

At the terminal, I grabbed some yogurt and bread for breakfast, dropped my mochila underneath the bus and strapped myself into my shotgun seat. Before I got engrossed in my book, which also mentioned getting “strapped in” quite a bit, I watched others approach and board the bus. The Peruvian women’s mochilas were colorful blankets folded in a way and tied at the shoulders/neck to be able to carry large loads on their backs sometimes including mini humans.

The landscape once we made our way out of the city was the mountainous landscape I had grown accustomed to: bright blue sky, light green scrubby (the shrubs that can be used as medicine for diabetes or VD) hills with periodic trickles of water. At times there were large plains used for agriculture reminding me a bit of a barren rice paddy in Vietnam.

For some reason, the Peruvians in this region reminded me of the Vietnamese mainly to their physical strength and bodies that have aged before their time due to extreme hard labor. The men and women’s faces were weathered: dark sun-soaked skin wrinkled with deep creases. Their smiles were heartwarming and also exposed the fact that several teeth were missing. Muriel, the aspiring Dentist could come back here with a lot of work to do.

The attire for men was black pants, white shirt with a colorful woven hat and colorful woven hat sometimes tucked underneath a wide brimmed hat. The women were brightly attired with flowing skirts, wool tights, bowler hats over their long double-braided hair with some having pom-poms on the end. The men were lean and I think they enjoy their women being quite portly.

Most of the ride I read taking a few pee breaks thanks to having a baño on the bus. Peeing on a bus weaving through the mountains takes skill. The never-ending argument of the position of the toilet seat between men and women is a dilemma on the bus: up or down. The seat has springs to keep it up. In order to put it down you have to touch the seat and sit simultaneously. Pretty much the hygiene is disgusting either way. Fortunately, the bathrooms are equipped with strong handles and I have strong quads. Aim and fire and DO NOT bump into the up toilet seat. I was happy I did not have any urgent need for a twosie!

As we passed through some towns, they looked the same: dusty roads, markets lining the streets, colorful moto-taxis and concrete buildings with one or two levels. Each of the buildings had wires shooting up into the sky showing hope for progress, like in “The Jeffersons” to be moving on up in the future.

I made it to Puno, the city along Lake Titicaca at 2:30. My adult side was eager to visit the islands and take in the beauty of the large lake. My 5 year old was just happy to say TITI-CACA as much as possible.

After much negotiation with moto-taxis and taxi drivers to take me up the hill, I made it to Dulque Inn. I was offered a closet for S.20 or a large room with glass windows giving me a panoramic view overlooking the lake for S.30. I’ll take the view por favor!!

The hotel was high on the hill and I was now higher in elevation: 3850 meters. I had a headache brewing despite my hydration and starvation measures. I felt wiped out and thought it would be a good idea to quality control the hotel’s bed. A knock at the door a few hours later woke me up. It was Denise. I had an extra bed. She notified me that the charge was S.30 EACH! Hmmm, I will have to take care of that tomorrow. She notified me she only paid S.20. Oh, well, I paid double to get there early and have a siesta in a comfy bed.

Downhill to explore for dinner. Denise had looked up some vegetarian restaurants in “The Bible” and online. Being a Vegan, she has a tougher time on the food front. The restaurants we searched for, surprise surprise, no longer existed or did not serve cena. We consulted with locals getting directions to other dead ends.

When you are a Vegeteriana in a carnivorous land, the Indians and Chinese become your best friends. Thank God for the Chinese folks that cover the planet. In the end, we scoured several chifas, Chinese Restaurants and found one willing to serve up some arroz con verduras y tallerines con verduras. It was the bomb. I had not had Chinese cuisine in forever.

Denise and I were blissfully full and extremely tired. We called it an early night since my head was still aching and her stomach was out of sorts. Both of us agreed to wake up whenever our bodies told us and we would figure out the plan mañana.

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