We crossed the border from Bolivia into Peru at the border near Lake Titicaca. We were actually relieved to be out of Bolivia. We were tired of dealing with the gasoline issues and on the whole we had found the Bolivian people to be less than friendly.
We were now on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca. We headed to Puno, the next big town to get Peruvian soles. We also intended to complete a trip to the floating islands, as Keira really wanted to do a boat trip and we had not been there before. We knew it would be touristy and this turned about to be true.
The Floating Islands is a group of reed islands. The local people have established communities on these islands. They make a living from fishing, and tourism. It is a real tourist trap where they play on you being a captive audience. Keira did like the boat trip, and the islands held her attention for at least 5 minutes before she found a little boy to play with.
From Puno, we headed north to the Sillustani Ruins, where we camped for the night in the parking lot. That night a man claiming to be a security guard approached us. He wanted money from us in exchange for his services. We did not give him any money suspecting a scam. The next day, we found him attending the toilets!! We visited the ruins that day. They had some buildings intact, which were burial chambers called Chullpa. The architecture was interesting, as they had carved out the inside of the rocks and filled them with rubble to make them more stable. They uncovered several mummies and many artifacts from the site including adornments made of gold. The houses in the surrounding area were made of local stone, a contrast to the adobe homes of Bolivia and northern Argentina
Heading north the following day we encountered our first roadblock at a small town called Ayaviri. The local people were protesting because a mine in the area is dumping waste into their water supply. We had no problem being stopped for almost 2 hours for such an important cause. Unfortunately quite often the local people have no impact, as the mines are big businesses with more influence on the government. They sprayed a slogan on our windshield in support of their cause.
This delay did put us behind, so we entered Cusco in the dark. Thankfully our friends Els and Gerret had given us directions to the campsite, so we were able to avoid downtown Cusco with its narrow and steep streets.
It was wonderful to see Gerrett and Els again. We had met them in Cafayate in Argentina about a month before. We exchanged stories of our travels, and hung out in the campsite together for several days.
The campsite, Quinta Lala, is on the hills above Cusco. It is on a large parcel of land and specifically targets over Landers. It is a cool campsite as people often stay for long periods of time, so a real sense of community is established. Whilst there we meet some great people including Sol and Alvarito, and Julia and German 2 couples from Argentina; a couple from Chile, Claudia and Cristian; an Aussie couple Tony and Betty, and 2 couples from the USA. Everyone shared travel stories, information, food, tools and skills. We even had a birthday party for Sol, decorating their car in balloons and having an Argentinean style asado.
The campsite is a wonderful place for children. It is fully enclosed, has a large area with trees and grass, has chickens, cats and dogs, and the community embraces the children. Keira thrived there, playing with other children, feeding the chickens, saving mice from the cats, visiting other travelers and hanging out in their vehicles, and patting the many dogs.
The temperatures were very pleasant during the day, but at night the temperatures dropped dramatically. The temperatures were -2 to -4 degrees Celsius during the night. We woke up to ice on our tent and frost on the ground. We were lucky to have Els and Gerret’s trailer/living room to hang out in.
The festival of Inti Raymi, the Inca new year, was held on June 24th in Cusco. The main festival took place at the Sacsayhuaman ruins, the inca ruins above Cusco. There were hundreds of performers dressed in a variety of costumes. They performed dancers and acted out scenes from the inca times. Thousands of people were in attendence crowding the hills. Crowd watching was just as interesting as watching the performance. The local people bought full meals of chicken, rice, and vegetables with them. People were selling all sorts of foods, from porky bits, to popcorn, to jelly and fried foods. That evening Millie and her husband, the owners of the campsite, had an asado (BBQ) of alpaca and vegetables, to celebrate the festival and their 10 year anniversary.
The connections we made with fellow travellers at the campsite were amazing. We parted, exchanging emails with hopes to meet up again in the future.
HIGHLIGHTS/CHALLENGES OF THIS AREA:
MOST VALUED POSSESION: hot water bottle- needed at the campsite as the temperatures dropped below freezing.
BEST EXPERIENCE: Mike- hanging out with all the other over landers; Keira- playing with Barley and Bar the two big dogs at the campsite ; Riss- meeting and hanging out with people at the campground
MOST CHALLENGING EXPERIENCE: Mike-sitting still and pretending to be interested in the cultural performances at the festival.; Keira- saying good-bye to friends and the dogs; Riss- getting out of our icicle laden tent and braving the cold
BEST FOOD DISCOVERY: Mike-the Argentinean asado at the campsite; Keira- chocolate somewhere probably; Riss- soy milk again
BEST CAMPING SPOT: Quinta Lala, above Cusco
Just a place to keep our mates informed on where we are at, and what we are up to.