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Flag of Peru  , Puno,
Saturday, March 22, 2014

The bus from Cusco to Puno (Lake Titicaca) took 11 hours - but wow! what a way to travel - it was a smorgasbord of sights. I had a front row seat and I spent the entire time taking pictures. My iPhone has been invaluable - except for constantly running out of battery. If I'm not looking for wifi, I'm looking to charge my phone. We had 5 stops along the way so it was really quite pleasant - a great way to see the country. First stop was Andahuaylillas, home to San Pedro's Church - the 'Sistine Chapel of the Americas'. It's a very,very lavishly decorated 17th century church in a very quiet and insignificant village. I'm not quite sure who it was intended to impress at the time but apparently it is crammed with gold and silver and the villagers take turns guarding it 24/7. Simple from the outside and a definite WOW factor inside. Next stop was Raqchi which is an Incan temple built on top of an even older Andean temple. Apparently this temple had the largest single roof of the Incan Empire before the Spanish destroyed it. The pillars also make it unique - there were a lot of them - I imagine they held up the roof. After that it was a lunch stop where I got to recharge my phone. Then it was onwards and upwards to the highest part of the Altiplano - La Raya (4335 m) and a stop for photos. Next stop was Pukara - famous for its Andean ruins from (500bc - 250ad). There were many statues of people holding decapitated heads and others of people devouring one another. Time to move on. That was the last stop but then we had a very exciting detour. There was a miners strike in a town we had to pass through (Juliaca) and the bridge we were planning to cross was closed so the driver had to go down a bumpy, potholey, narrow dirt road in a VERY big bus. At one point we all had to get out as we were stuck. We made it to Juliaca and then on to Puno. These towns are nothing to write home about - chaotic, falling apart and half built. In Juliaca the main industry is smuggling. Apparently 40,000 women go across the border into Bolivia everyday and trade everyday stuff that's hard to find in Bolivia (household items, clothes, toys) for gas. The Bolivian government subsidizes gas and so these ladies smuggle gas back to Peru in yellow jerrycans and sell it alongside food at their food stalls. Gas and food stalls. It's very blatant - I could see them everywhere. They also don't pay taxes which is why the towns are such a mess. Next stop will be the islands!
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Comments

Dad on

My favorite picture is of the girls selling olives - nobody's getting rich but they look happy.

David Welch on

More great pics! What a cool experience you're both having :) I like the taxi..... wonder if there'd be a market for those in Victoria during the rainy season?

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