Puno itself is nearly nothing of interest. Most people who go there go to see the Uros people. The Uros live on islands they have made out of the reeds that grow in Lake Titicaca. As the reeds decay, they pile up more on top. These days they have electricity, schools and other infrastructure and, most importantly for them, a thriving tourist industry. I saw it in it’s less touristy state about 8 or 9 years ago. Given my time considerations, I chose not to go out there this time and to preserve my memories. I overnighted in Puno, skipping the several worthwhile Inca and pre-Inca sites around there, and headed for Cuzco.
My original plan (Why do I even think about planning?) was to spend maybe a day around town, go to Macchu Picchu and maybe the Sacred Valley, then go to Nazca and a park north of Lima. What happened was there was a transportation strike here and a pilot’s strike at the airline I am taking to Los Angeles for my connection to Seoul. Both of those are resolved, but the timing of all that prevented me from going to Macchu Picchu or getting to Nazca. It’s a long story, but the gist of it all is that I’ve hung around Cuzco for 6 days and later today am taking a bus to Lima where I will hang out till my flight leaves in three days.
On the bus from Puno I met a Swiss woman, Marita, who has been traveling 13 years.
I am authorized to tell you she got a terminal cancer diagnosis 13 years ago and decided to check off the items on her bucket list rather than prolong her previous life with cancer treatments. Seems like an obvious call to me, but you know how it is. Most people stay home. The cancer disappeared and she’s still traveling. Too bad she doesn’t have a website. She’s done some amazing stuff.
We’ve been pretty relaxed here in Cuzco. There are far worse places to be stranded. We went on a tour of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Here are pics of that area.
That last place was Moray. We didn’t have a guide, but it is sure interesting how they decided to build those terraces on a circle like that. The terraces they built are interesting, but NOTHING compares to those in China
Here is the 16th century church in Chinchero.
As I said, we didn’t get to Macchu Picchu. It’s comforting to have been there before, though. For sure you’ve seen pictures of that place. If you haven’t, there are millions of pictures better than I could have taken to be found online.
Cuzco has changed since I was here before. It’s more modern, cleaner around the center, and touristy. Not that it wasn’t touristy a mere 8 years ago, but it’s got upscale stuff all over the place and a McDonalds right on the Plaza de Armas. Here’s the plaza.
It’s been wierd around here. Well, actually it’s probably been normal for Peru. There was a transportation strike, supported by many businesses not bothering to open. One of the reasons for the general shutting down and shuttering of windows was the threat of violence. All this was right in the middle of one of Cuzco’s biggest celebrations. During the winter solstice, they have traditional pageantry celebrating their Inca and Quechua heritage. Many hours of parades and music were to be interrupted by this labor action. It was thought this might last two days, which would have disrupted a lot of planning. Plus, violence would have ruined the vibes. As it turned out, nothing untoward happened. The protests died out by midafternoon and festivities resumed. You see in the previous pictures how it looked around the plaza during the happy part of the gathering. I didn’t think taking pictures of the riot police would be such a hot idea, but it was cute to see the bulls leaning on their shields, helmets at their feet, chatting on their cell phones, no doubtedly with their wives and friends about each others kids parading around them in their costumes.
These festivities will be going on for a couple more days. Those pics were of the parade of the kindergartners. All ages, groups and what not are in on it. I’ll put more parade pictures up when I get the wide angle pics copied onto DVD in Korea.
Speaking of Korea, I’ve got to get out of here and have some lunch before taking the bus for Lima this afternoon. Maybe I’ll have a chance to blog again before my flight three days from now. Until then, as always, be well all of you.