South America | Peru | Southern Peru | Cuzco (Cusco) – Looking back
Tuesday 15th May
Two more days in Cuzco was plenty and we both agreed it was time to move on. Despite everything that you hear, Cuzco is a lovely city and we never felt threatened there. The hassle does get too much though – you can’t sit down and admire the surroundings for more than 5 minutes without someone trying to sell you something of begging for money. More often than not, it’s a child too, which I find quite upsetting. We’d ask them why they weren’t at school and receive a variety of distressing replies, ‘I don’t like school’, ‘I go to school at 7pm and have to work in the day’, and after a long sad silence, one boy told us that he couldn’t afford the books. If I stayed in Cuzco any longer I would be handing out money left right and centre!
It was quite sad saying goodbye to Liz and Richard, the couple we’d met on the Inca Trail and who were staying in the convent with us. So far they are the only people I’ve met who I had anything in common with (along with the other 2 British couples on the trail). It seems that a vast majority of travellers are either hippy types seeking to find themselves (far too deep for me) or public school types who have finished
an expedition helping the poor of the world. I can’t help thinking that my talk of poo and such like would not be too popular!
Anyway, we bit our farewells and caught a bus to Puno.
Wednesday 16th May
Our final day in Peru left us with some unpleasant memories of the place – a shame since the rest of our time here has been very enjoyable (once you overlook the Inca Trail aches and pains!). Once in Puno, we booked an excursion to the floating islands in Lake Titicaca. To save on hassle, we bought the excursion from Tour Peru, the bus company that had brought us from Cuzco, on the proviso that they would look after our bags while we were on the tour.
All was going well and we set off to poke our noses into the bizarre lives of the Uros people. The trip was slightly diappointing, since the islands only seem to exist for the tourists. Still, it was interesting to see how the Indians not only make their homes (and land) from the Totora reed, but also souveneirs, boats and they even eat it! We tried, but it was tasteless. I do keep trying the local cuisine, but remain unimpressed. I tried Guinea Pig in Cuzco yesterday but it fell way below expectations. Give me my mum’s roast beef and yorkshire pud any day!!! This morning we ordered the breakfast of the day and were served a plate of spicy chicken and rice!!!!
The tour was excellent value and everything was going to plan – we would be back ashore with plenty of time to get the 1 o’clock bus to Copacabana, meaning we would arrive to hunt for hotels while it was light. And then of course, it all started to go wrong. Despite knowing what time the tour returned, the Tour Peru staff had locked up the office and left for lunch. Yes indeed, left with our bags locked in their office. A local sent us to their other office, where we were told that our bags would remain under lock and key until the boss returned from lunch. It could be an hour, it could be three and no one knows where he goes to eat. So we bgan to think we would be stuck in Puno, hardly the prettiest place in Peru. Hurrah though, he did eventually return with not so much as an apology and we were on our way to Bolivia.
It was our first journey where our bags sat on the roof of the bus. We were the only gringos board, so there were no other bags to hold ours in place, leaving Hector poking his head out of the window for the three hour journey to Yunguyo on the border. A very strange place Yunguyo, and after being chased around the square and blocked into a corner by half a dozen cycle-taxis, we were more than ready to cross into Bolivia.
The border crossing was an interesting sight, and hopefully a sign of things to come. Half a dozen customs officials were outside playing volleyball with the local business owners. This made it difficult for us to buy any food or water but it was an amusing sight!
Copacabana seemd a friendly place and since it is a little out of season, the hoteliers were hammering down their prices without us even asking! We ended up in the Hostal Colonial. A fourth floor room, all brand new (the building work is going on around us to prove it!), private bathroom and a fantastic view of the lake. The price was lowered to $2.50 per night each on the condition that we stay for 6 nights. Everyone’s a winner!