From Arequipa to Puno (March 22, 2008)

In the morning we took a bus to go to Puno to go see Lake Titicaca. Arequipa is already at 2380 m altitude and we felt it there. But Puno is at 3800m altitude which for us is extremely  high.  None of us have ever been that high up. So we started taking attitude sickness pills (I mean altitude sickness). Sorry it has been our joke on the trip.  It doesn´t take much to amuse us. :) 

Since we are on the medication topic, the trip from Arequipa to Puno is a bit over 5 hours in the mountains so we all took some gravol as preventive measures.  The road out here a pretty windy with many curves.  As well, our bus driver was certainly not taking his time.  He spent a lot of time in the left lane passing.   Marj took 2 as she was concerned and was quite out of it for most of the trip. The scenery very interesting to see. The first part was sort of desert like with cacti.  As we started to climb, we started seeing larger mountains and even Alpacas grazing on the side of the highway.  Every once in a while we would see an “Alpaca Crossing” sign.  Not something you see everyday…

We arrived in Puno in the afternoon and checked in to our hotel, Joya del Titicaca. We sure could feel the altitude.   When we had to go up to our room on the third floor it was diffcult and we were feeling out of breath. Once we recovered, we went to grab something to eat. It seems all there is in Puno are Pizzerias! So, guess what we went for – yup, pizza.  It was mid afternoon so the restaurant was pretty empty.  The server was super friendly and asked all kinds of questions about Canada.  Thankfully Melissa and Kevin speak spanish.  Kevin and Marjorie had Alpaca pizza and both really love it.

After lunch, we  walked around town, saw a couple nice squares, the cathedrale, etc.  Roger even got a shoe shine in one of the squares.  You can only say no so many times… They tried scamming him and charging 10 soles instead of 1 soles by claiming that the 1 soles price was just for a brush and not a shine.  Nice try… 

Not far from our hotel, they have a street that seems to be “Gringo Central” with restaurants and shops for tourists. We found a little place where we had tea and played cards. There is a  tea here Matte de Coca, which is made with coca leaves (which is what cocaine is made from after numerous  chemical transformations).  It is the natural medicine here for alitude sickness.  The doctor at the travel clinic in Montreal told us to drink it to feel better.  And it works!  It does help us feel better.  Coca leaves have been a very important part of life here for hundreds of years.  They use them in tea and even chew the leaves.

We were all feeling pretty tired from the alitude so we went to bed fairly early. We also had to get up at 5:45 the next day for our tour. Boy, isn´t it nice to be on holidays and be able to sleep in… ;-).


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