Friday........................Andean Explorer Puno to Cusco

Cusco Travel Blog

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About to leave Puno

I get up at ¼ to 7 so that I can leave at 7:15 by taxi.  The porter comes and takes my case.  I leave the room and lock it.  Just as I’m walking down the passage I stop to check my bag for the usual, glasses, purse, etc.  The bag seems lighter than usual and I can’t find my purse.  I rush back to the room, tip everything out of both bags; no purse.  Fortunately the porter comes back to find me.  I ask him to look under the bed; I can’t get down there because of the splint.  He comes up all excited with a texta pen, no, that’s not it.  He dives down again, this time on the other side of the bed.  He comes up with my wallet.  What a relief, I tip him and hurry down to the taxi.

 

Gregorio has given me the best seat on the train.

Puno from train
  A forward-facing single seat on the right side of the train, the most interesting side, closest to the bar/lounge area, the observation car and the toilet.  There are 36 seats in the carriage and about 16 people.  The reverse trip is more popular and the tourist season starts in July.  I buy a sandwich, bottle of water and bottle of sparkling white.  Lunch and afternoon tea is included in the price, but not drinks or breakfast/extras.  The triple sandwich is excellent.  When they serve the meals they do the Orient Express formal bit, where all the waiters stand in the aisle and they serve all the meals at the same time.

 

I type a bit of the blog, look out the window, then we are invited to the lounge car for a welcome Pisco Sour (very nice).  While we are having our drinks a Peruvian quartet starts playing and a woman dances.

Looking back to Puno
  She gets some of the others up and dancing with her.  Hoorah for the splint.  Then of course they are selling a cd.  I say, no thank you, twice.  Then one of the guys comes up to me and actually asks for money because I listened to their music.  Fortunately my bag was in the other carriage.

 

Lunch entrée was fantastic, some form of sushi, but really only sushi in shape.  Main course and dessert OK.  Afterwards I did what you do on trains, not much.  Spent quite a long time in the observation carriage, took lots of photos.  We stopped at La Raya where there was a market, the usual tourist fare.  Some people got off to have a look.  I couldn’t see any point in saying no, gracias a zillion times, so stayed on the train.

Passenger carriage from my seat

 

The only disadvantage of being on the right side was that there was quite a bit of sun, so I opened and closed the curtains several times. 

 

The train tooted many times, including going through towns, where it always slowed down, and many people wave, mainly the children.  I immediately notice the difference between Bolivia and Peru.  The soil here is much darker and is used extensively for agriculture, which I saw little of in Bolivia.  We are following a river bed for much of the way, so it’s not surprising that it’s more fertile in this area.  For some reason I’d expected that we’d be climbing up into the mountains, but in fact, Cusco is 400m lower than Puno.

Brunch

 

Going through the countryside is like a journey into the past.  We see people threshing grain (wheat? Quinoa?) with large sticks, cutting grain by hand, tending small flocks of sheep (there are no fences), donkeys being used as work horses.  In one town the train drives through the centre of the market and as soon as we leave, they are already putting the stalls back in the centre of the train line.

 

We reach Cusco at about 6 and Nellie from FairPlay is there to meet me soon after.  In Cusco I am having a homestay, lessons and practical classes with an organization called Fairplay.  www.fairplay-peru.org.  Grammar lessons are NS12, AUD4.

Peruvian band and dancer
40 hour and practical lessons NS10, AUD3.67 hour.  Accommodation with a family with 3 meals a day, a bedroom with shower, basin and toilet, is NS180, AUD66 a week, paid directly to the family.  There are some registration fees, donation to Fairplay, fee for homestay (USD10 per week). With a USD10 deduction for being a member of SAE, these amounts totalled USD67.  Fairplay is an organization that trains single mothers, over a period of 8 months, to teach Spanish as a second language.   You pay the money directly to the teacher, not like Fox and most other places where the organization takes most of the money.  You also pay the family direct.  It’s hard to find places where the money goes directly to the people, with a minimal amount for administration.

 

Cusco is much bigger than I had imagined.  I am tired from the long train trip but of course Nele only speaks Spanish with me.

Getting the passengers up
  She is to be my practice teacher.  We go to the home where I’m staying.  There are two other students there, Allison from NY and Marjolein from The Netherlands.  I also meet the family, parents Roy and Gloria and children Moza (17) and Daniel (24).

 

I am anxious to have my knee checked out tomorrow, but it turns out that Roy and Gloria are doctors.  Roy is a dermatologist and Gloria a radiologist!  Gloria looks at my x-rays and says that there are no fissures, which is what the hospital said, but that I have damaged a ligament.  She thinks that I should wear the splint for about a month.  So much for the doctor in Sucre who had a hissy fit when I had a glass of red wine.

 

We have something to eat with the family and then play a game , sapotrying to throw metal objects like large coins into the mouth of the frog.

Bar and lounge car
  It is all very different from what happened with the accommodation in Sucre.  The house is very nice and the family has two servants, so our meals are provided and no washing up is required.  The only drawback is that there is no heating.  I have a shower before I go to bed, so that I can warm up.

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About to leave Puno
About to leave Puno
Puno from train
Puno from train
Looking back to Puno
Looking back to Puno
Passenger carriage from my seat
Passenger carriage from my seat
Brunch
Brunch
Peruvian band and dancer
Peruvian band and dancer
Getting the passengers up
Getting the passengers up
Bar and lounge car
Bar and lounge car
Looking through lounge car to obse…
Looking through lounge car to obs…
La Raya
La Raya
Horses for Judy
Horses for Judy
Typical town scene
Typical town scene
Typical town
Typical town
Pisco Sour lessons for passengers …
Pisco Sour lessons for passengers…
Looking back
Looking back
Roy  picking up coins while playin…
Roy picking up coins while playi…
Cusco
photo by: Vlindeke