Another Adventure

15 10 2007

On Saturday we took the Inka Express bus from Cuzco to Puno (where Lake Titicaca, the highest navegable lake in the world, is). We had a fright, though, in the morning. We left our “home” in Cuzco, Hostel Belvedere, and took a taxi to the Inka Express bus station. Our driver helped us unload bags, then pointed to two smaller buses than appeared on the Inka Express website. “Here is your bus to Puno” he said, after walking arond the corner to see the bus. “Are you sure?” I asked… “It doesn´t look like anybody´s here, yet they told us to be here an hour early.” We paid our driver, dragged our bags a few steps, and immediately saw that the bus said “Machu Picchu Tours” on it. Oops. Been there, done that. I ran to the taxi driver who was still there…”This is a bus to Machu Picchu, not Puno” I said. “Oh..”  “So what do we do?” I asked him. Another man standing nearby told us that the Inka Express was farther down the street, just a ways, and gave us the address. We could walk there. So our driver took off, and we walked down the street to the address.

Nobody there. Doors locked, with a padlock. I looked in the window, and it looked completely empty.  A man standing there said to me, “Nobody´s there.” “What do you mean?” I asked.. ” where are they?”   “I don´t know. They´ve moved to another site.”  What!? now what?

Just then a man wearing a fleece jacket that said “Peru Rail” (the train we took back and forth to Machu Picchu” walked by and told us where they had moved to. He gave me directions, which I didn´t completely follow, because it was turn here, walk there, look for that, and this, and it was very direct, really, and we could do it in 15 minutes. I asked him about a taxi, and a teeny weeny taxi came by. He hailed it, but said, looking at our bags, “This is too small for you. You need a bigger taxi.” But the driver said he could fit us in, us and our bags. So one bag was set on top (not fastened), and we squeezed in, and it´s a good thing we didn´t walk. It would have taken us at least 30 minutes. And it was definately not direct, or easy, to find.

But we made it! We were early, and we made it. Thank God for the guy pointing us down the street, for the guy who told us that Inka Express had moved, for the Peru Rail guy, and the taxi driver.

Despite that harrowing start to our day, the bus ride was quite good. The bus itself was quite nice, the guide fairly good, though a bit repetitive and too talkative. We had many stops in small villages along the way, passed llama and alpaca herds… tons of them.. So cool. I think I already wrote that. And I hugged and alpaca. Even better.

Each town we stopped in had a “Plaza de Armas” or Central Square, with a church, mini-park, benches, vendors at tiendas (selling me alpaca wool socks so I could stay warm on the bus.) The churches were fascinating. We couldn´t take photos inside, but such beauty, and strange similiarities in ceiling painting, similiar to rosemaling (sp?) from Sweden. One church we visited is called the “Sistine Chapel of the Andes”.

We have met so many travelers along the way, including two fun couples from New Zealand. At one of the stops, we got off the bus, and one of the NZ men said, “Another plaza… another church….” Very funny, and very true. But good, for us ordained people.

Our hostel in Puno is a slightly not-so-great. Though I appreciate their concern for the environment in having a solar system schedule of hot water, we only each had one shower there during our two night stay, and Jo Ann had an ice cold shower, Jim had lukewarm, and I had a lukewarm turning ice cold shower. But the family that owns this hostel is very nice. The breakfasts are fantastic, the father of the family  is adorable and sweet, the blankets were warm, and two nights there did really do us any harm. I´m just not the “roughing it” type anymore.

Another hostel, another cold shower, another plaza, another church, another ride to another new city, another adventure, another day of protection from worse things happening…. and another day of beautiful people, scenery, llamas and alpacas.



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