Day 8: From Puno to Cusco

Cusco Travel Blog

 › entry 11 of 17 › view all entries
Already at the sound of my alarmclock, I can feel that I have adapted to the height: no more feeling like a bean bag, but feeling well up to the long drive today, in spite of the for the normal-me much too early time.

After leaving Puno, we make two stops, one for the view of Puno and a last glance at Lake Titicaca, one to buy some drinks and snacks for the road in Pucara, before arriving at the highest point of our entire Peru-holiday: Abra la Raya, at an altitude of 4338 m. We stop there for just over a quarter of an hour, to take some pictures... and to look at the merchandise the salesmen (and women) are offering over here.

Our lunch restaurant in Sievani is a bit of a surprise: we stop in front of a closed gate, no sign of any kind of establishment anywhere.
An elderly woman opens the gate, and our bus drives through the gate and parks behind it. Still no sign of anything, at least no sign of serving any food. We are directed to walk around the corner... and are faced with a large array... of more handmade souvenirs... But nothing eatable. But there's a little door between the displays, and we are pointed to go through there. The first thing we see there is a barnyard with some young alpacas and a young vicuña. Still no... wait a minute, through a door on our right hand, a little further... Just as I was starting to think we were getting  nowhere, there's a large hall, looking very clean and modern, with a open kitchen at the end and a buffet with a wide range of choice waiting, just for us. And it's good food too!

After lunch as much as we want, we have enough time left to look around the place, including the shops.
The things on sale here look quite different from what we saw in Arequipa and before that, eventhough the products are much the same. But the different look makes me find something I immediately adore: my schoolbag for the upcoming year, in Peruvian print with reference to Peru's biggest attraction: Machu Picchu (and that is still to come in a few days).

It's only an eight minute drive to our next highlight: Raqchi. Finally, on our eighth day in Peru, we get to see our first Inca ruins. These are the ruins of an Inca town, with a large temple (from what I hear, quite different from other temple remains found), the remains of houses and (which make the most impression on me) storage houses for grains.
Abra La Raya / Apu. Chimboya
One of the main reasons the Inca culture thrived so well, was their well-organised society, including food storage. That meant that they never (or hardly ever) had foodproblems in the Inca empire. That made the empire very attractive for other tribes to join (well, those that joined willingly, held that as an advantage - many other tribes were forced to "join").

Our tour through the ruins ends at another souvenir-market, where we detect yet another Peruvian product - better not to take home with, it might cause a lot of stir up at the customs: coca liquor. You might say: double trouble. But at that market I do find the souvenir, that now has a central place in my room at home: an goldcoloured Tumi, almost a foot long, to hang on the wall (or in my case: the bookshelves).

From here on we follow the valley of the Urubamba river downstream.
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It gives us a whole series of beautiful landscapes, with an ever wilder waterstream.

Today's last sight is the church of Andahuayllas. Strictly forbidden to take photographs inside, there are people walking around to check the you don't take secret pictures, there's a large screen behind the open doors to prevent anyone from taking pictures from outside the church... A lot of fuss about a church that is not really all that impressive... OK, there's gold on display. Lots of it, that was originally Inca-gold, but confiscated by the church and now reshaped into their religiuos symbols - quite overdone. Well, maybe that's what they're trying to hide: they're afraid that people will stay away if they see on the photographs what there is to see... Not that much!

An apppearance on the main square, in font of the church, I find much more impressive: from a long distance we can see a pair of hummingbids flying around some trees with abundant red flowers.
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From there it's an hour drive to our hotel in Cusco. Or to the place where we are dropped off to go to our hotel, because the bus can't reach it. But it's only a five minute walk to the hotel, which at first glace looks nice. But that's only the first glance, as I will tell at a later moment.

In my room with view of a perfectly blind wall, I repack my backpack, because the next two nights we will be in other hotels, while our suitcases stay here. The reason is that we will travel part of the way by train, and suitcases are not allowed to be taken on that train.

We gather in the lobby of the hotel to go to dinner. Our tourguide directs us to the centre of Cusco, which is just two streets (but quite long streets) away from our hotel.
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On the way to the city square, we pass ancient Peru's largest stone in a building, the twelve cornered stone.

When our tourguide has brought us to the centre and pointed out some good restaurants, she leaves us to arrange the rest for ourselves. Eleven of us go to a restaurant where there's a dinner buffet. And quite good too! A wide veriety of choises for appitizers, first course, main course and deserts. Furthermore, there a band playing live, some numbers with tradional dancers. The music is somewhat loud, but they're very good. And they show their skill by not only playing tradional Peruvian pieces, but also music from around the world: a.o. a Beatles-medley and the overturr Wilhelm Tell (by Gioacchino Rossini) are also on their repertoire.

After a very satifactory meal, we return to the hotel.
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The group soon desintegrates after leaving the restaurant, and I and up with one of my travelcompanions way ahead of the rest. Back in the hotel, we have already finished our first few games of cards in the lobby, before the first of the rest arrives. One more joins us with the cards, the rest of the group calls it a night. We do too, after about an hour of playing cards later, to do our last preperations for traveling light the next few days...
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Abra La Raya / Apu. Chimboya
Abra La Raya / Apu. Chimboya
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Abra La Raya / Apu. Chimboya
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Andahuayllas; Can you find the hum…
Andahuayllas; Can you find the hu…
Andahuayllas; Can you find the hum…
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photo by: Vlindeke