Archive for June 9th, 2010

Cusco to Puno

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Our bus to Puno was leaving at seven twenty which in Peru means eight. The bus was clean and modern – only for tourists and not as they say, a “chicken bus”. The bus made five stops on the way to Puno. It was absolutely fabulous. They were only eighteen of us and we had a private guide.

Our first stop was a huge baroque church in a super tiny village. It is called he Sistine chapel of the Americas. That is quite an overstatement but it was very exquisite. An interesting combination of Catholicism and native beliefs. When the Spaniards forced the natives to accept Catholicism and paint the murals in the church, the natives snuck in pictures of the Indian sun, coca plants and such. These symbols they understood and lived made going to catholic church bearable for them.

The second stop was a huge inca ruin with a ten meter tall wall that was the axis of an inka temple and remains of about 150 storage silos. The third stop was a private lunch buffet. The food was good but the best part was that David and I were able to feed a baby llama from a bottle filled with cow’s milk. That was super cool.

Fourth stop was a mountain pass at 4400 meters where three Andes mountain ranges meet. It was quick, but I bought an awesome alpaca blanket.

Finally we stopped at Pucara, the center of a preinca culture with a small museum.

We got to Puno at five. At the bus terminal we wanted to hire a taxi to take us to our hotel. But the first guy would not take us for the right price so I told David to yell out to all the congregated taxi drivers if they would take us for the price we wanted. In a split second the first driver was already grabbing my bag and shoving it in the trunk of his taxi. I busted out laughing. There is absolutely nothing you don’t bargain over here.

Our hotel is…Luxurious. Somehow I managed to book a suite and it is bigger than our entire apartment in Provo. It is so huge with a king size bed and a jacuzzi. David does not complain. After dinner on a terrace overlooking the main plaza David booked our boat ride for he next day which is today. I am actually typing all this on the boat on Lake Titicaca.

The coolest part about our ride to Puno was our guide. He was a young guy about our age and was the first one we have spoken to that seemed somewhat connected to reality. The whole time we have been here all we have heard is how amazing the inkas were. They did nothing wrong.

Our inca trail guide claimed vehemently that they did not know greed. They just loved each other and held hands and lived in bliss. Being me, I equally vehemently disagreed saying that they killed thousands as they conquered over thirty percent of South America. And that the 150 Spanish that arrived here were able to bring the inca empire down because so many of the supressed tribes in the inca empire joined the Spanish against the incas. I was brushed off as if I was the devil ruining his inca Disney movie.

My second major offensive came when our inka trail guide was praising the location chosen for Machu Picchu. Here I dared to point out that there are actually to fault lines running through MP and that it was therefore a crazy location. And only luck, prayers and the inla construction skills is keeping this standing. Again I got nowhere. The same was with our monastery guide who pretty much claimed that the incas knew and saw more of the universe hat Hubble telescope. It is like everyone here moved to lala land.

So it was so refreshing to talk to our bus guide who was realistic and more importantly agreed with us. It is so nice to be agreed with. We covered a lot of current issues as well but again it is too much to type on a phone. The highlight is that apparently most peple here thing that Hugo Chavez is the savior ( apparently Obama lost his title). And that things are just booming in Bolivia. State propaganda at its best. So Venezuela and Bolivia are the dream. FYI. Start packing.