Thursday, 22 September 2016

Peru Trip Part 4: Puno to Lima

We got back to Cusco and checked-in to our hostel. An hour later we got the news that our tour bus to Puno the next day was cancelled due to an impending two day strike in the area. The next day we frantically tried to find a way to get to Puno so we could continue our trip and eventually got tickets on a night bus.

We arrived in Puno in time to see sunrise, but were quite tired for our tour of Lake Titicaca and its islands. The first stop was the Uros floating islands. The islands are made of layered reeds that have to be constantly renewed. The platforms are quite squishy, your feet sink into the reeds an inch or so when you walk around. Houses are built up on extra platforms of reeds, and must be raised for new reeds to be laid down underneath. For electricity the people now have solar panels.

It took about three hours to get to Amantani island, and most of us napped on the boat. Our group was split up for the homestay and sent off with their ‘mama’. Our host had a little garden out back, and a courtyard with rickety stairs we had to climb to get to our room. Lunch was delicious: quinoa soup, slices of tomatoes and cucumbers, two types of boiled potatoes, and a slab of fried cheese.

After lunch we hiked to the top of the island for sunset. The altitude was still pretty high, so it was slow going. Again, the views were worth the effort. In the evening we were dressed in local costume and brought to the community centre where a dance was underway. Many of us were too tired to dance, but I enjoyed watching others. We retired early.

The next day we had rolled quinoa pancakes with jam for breakfast and were on our way to the final island of the tour, Taquile. More climbing got us to their plaza de armas, and a pleasant walk around the island gave us more beautiful views.

Another day, another bus, this time to Arequipa. We passed some small lakes, got to see alpacas and vicunas, and saw a few mountains and volcanos. 

Our hotel was a converted colonial building, and had some great decor. The city’s plaza de armas was gorgeous - my favourite of the trip. The white marble looked so beautiful. From the correct angle you could even see the mountains in the distance. We visited the Jesuit church and its painted St Ignatius chapel (no photography allowed), and the the Santa Catalina monastery, which was huge. In many cases the nuns had a series of rooms to themselves, including their own kitchen (or maybe heater?). I got some nice night photos in the plaza before heading off to bed.

We flew to Lima and spent the first day exploring the Miraflores neighbourhood - including its stray cat filled Parque Kennedy and Mercado #1 de Surquillo, where we got lunch at one of the food stalls.

After lunch we did some shopping and then walked along the coast to the Barranco neighbourhood and the Bridge of Sighs. We had dinner at a restaurant that included a dance show. 

Our last day in Peru was spent in the centre of town, at the plaza de armas. We saw the changing of the guard, toured the San Francisco monastery and catacombs, and then walked to the park with the Magic Water Circuit - a series of lit fountains including a light show.

That night we picked up our luggage and headed to the airport for a 3:40 am flight home.

Puno to Lima from Jessica Strider on Vimeo.

No comments: