Sorry for having not posted for a few days. We have had a series of long and interesting days and just haven’t had any time for writing. I’ll try make up for it with a series of short posts
The first half of our free day in Cusco was spent waiting for a doctor to visit Jill whose migraine and reaction to the high altitude had not got better. He gave her a couple of injections that were large enough to fix a horse. By the afternoon, she was feeling much better and we went for a short stroll around some local shops and bought some alpaca scarves and a jumper. What better than spending money on nice things to make you feel better. We picked up some laundry from a local shop down a lane way and then had a light dinner
We left Cuzco for Puno, near the border of Bolivia, on Monday. morning on a train that was run by the Orient Express Company. It took us about half an hour to clear the suburbs of Cusco and then had an interesting trip for the first part of the day as we travelled along the Vilconata Rivers.
We reached the highest point on the track at a location called La Raya which was at 4313 metres (14,150 feet). We stopped here for for 20 minutes to visit a local market. The women all wore their bright dresses, multi coloured scarves and traditional dress. I had a lot of fun photographing them surreptitiously as they are rather shy and don’t like having their photo taken. It was noticeably hard to breath here. Every step seemed to make me puff and the only way to manage was to walk slowly and take a number of deep breaths every now and then.
Lunch on the train was a pleasant three course meal served at our seat. One of the ways this high altitude is affecting me is that I have very little appetitive. I am taking serves from the buffet that are only a fraction of the size that I would normally take. The train was very comfortable and while some people were complaining about the ten hour trip, I thought that it was a simple commute after my train trip across Siberia last year.
Just before arriving at Puno, we travelled through the town of Juliaca. The local people run a recycling market on the railway track. I guess that they don’t have to pay rent there for a stall, and the train only comes through four times each week anyway. It was astonishing to see the array of things on sale. Stalls seamed to be in clusters – selling things like computer components, car parts, metal, vegetables, cloth and almost every other imaginable item that someone else may want to buy. As the train approached (extremely slowly) people would pack up their wares and move them off the track and then replace them as soon as the train had passed. Others by the side of the track were no more than six inches from the side of the carriages.
We finally arrived in Puno, on the shore of Lake Titikaka, by about 6:00 pm. The second half of our day was spent travelling over an enormous high plain that extends for over 500 kilometres from La Raya to central Bolivia. It reminded me of a gigantic version of the Bogong High Plains – no trees, golden yellow grass. We passed the occasional village where people kept llama, alpaca, sheep and the occasional cow.
It was too dark to see much of Puno and we were glad to see our hotel for a quick dinner and bed.