Arequipa, Wednesday 08/04/15

Before I continue with my tales of Peru, I thought I’d say a little about my own state of mind. 

I’ve been travelling for seventeen months now and though there is still so much to see and do, there are some things I find myself thinking about. 

Some days it’s hard to get things organised for the next place. It’s good that I can do what I want, but I do need to motivate myself. Everyone finds packing their bag a bore and I have to time it so as not to disturb others in the dorm. Then it seems to get harder not to forget stuff.  Booking buses and beds is quite easy, but I still find myself putting it off. 

There are the things about others in the hostel that can be trying. Snoring is the obvious one, but stage whispers at night, leaving the door open and even whistling have all caused me to mutter under my breath. Hair in the sink is another. What’s interesting is that these are the sorts of things that annoy people who are living together in relationships, so I suppose it’s the price we pay for companionship. 

Speaking of which, though it would be nice to be living in relative comfort, the hardest thing about being so far away is missing my family and friends. Hugs are precious. 

A lot of the time I feel strange. Why is everyone taking pictures of themselves? Indeed, why is taking photos the first thing they do, before they’ve even had a look around? The tour guides know this and build their itineraries around the phenomenon. Some people even acknowledged to me they never look at these photos again. 

Then there’s health. I got rid of my sore throat when I left Mexico. Now I watch my toenail turning black, though it doesn’t really hurt. Also I worry about my teeth. I should have got the problem with my crown sorted out in Mexico, but it would have meant staying in one place for a while and there was so much I wanted to do. 

All these are such minor things, I know, and they can all disappear in a flash when I find myself in wonder at nature or human kindness or simply laughing at life’s little ironies. In spite of that, at this moment, I could do with a friend close at hand and close to my heart.  

So, on with the Motley. After the Inka trial, I took a single room in Cusco behind the Cathedral. I thought I would get a good night’s sleep out of the dorms/tent, but my room was close to the lobby and the dining area, so I was disturbed by people coming in at three in the morning and others leaving at 5.30. I was pleased with the area, though, full of little local shops, narrow streets and a vegan restaurant where I met some interesting people. The next day I met up with the two Canadian women I had met on the trail and we had a great day; saw the picture of the Last Supper in the Cathedral, with guinea pig on the table, had brunch in the Chocolate Museum . . . 

meandered through the local market . . . 

   

 

 and bought some silver earrings in the form of the Inca Cross from a street stall. 

We finally said goodbye and went our separate ways. 

I was trying to arrange a trip to “Amazonia” on the internet, but having some problems. As it happened, I went to the office of an “Ecolodge” and because I couldn’t manage to book flights on my iPhone or their PC, I went to the Avianca office and the ticket cost half the price!

On Friday 27th March I flew to Puerto Maldonado, then took an hour and a half boat ride up the Madre de Dios river to the lodge.  

This was my personal hut.  

 And this the view from the verandah.  

  I spent two days and three nights there and it almost certainly was the most expensive place I stayed, though it was full board with guides, etc. I wish I could have stayed longer.

I don’t have wonderful pictures, as my iPhone does not like moving targets, deep shady forest and distant objects. I caught glimpses of Toucan, Brocket deer, Tamarin monkeys, Squirrel monkeys, Black-faced and White-faced Capuchins, Agouti, some strange birds and so on. There were plenty of Caimans and Leaf-cutter ants and I got very close to some Spider Monkeys.  

“Cool”.

I heard, but did not see, Howler monkeys in the morning and only saw tracks of Tapir and Jaguar. OK, I’m not David Attenborough, but I’m very pleased I went. 

I flew back to Cusco, where it was Palm Sunday and they were making elaborate structures from Palm leaves. The following day they paraded the Black Christ they keep in the Cathedral in honour of some patron of the city and a huge crowd gathered in the Plaza de Armas in the evening. 

Though I liked Cusco very much, it was time to move on. The bus ride to Puno gave me a surreal experience as they showed “Hairspray” on the small screens – not really what I was expecting.  

Puno is on the shore of Lake Titicaca, but other than that is of little interest. I found myself sharing a “2 bed dorm” with a young Brazilian man, Pascoal, who had lived in Stoke Newington for two years, just North of where I had lived in Dalston, London. 

We ended up going to the “main attractions” together. On the first day that meant the tombs at Sillustani where archaeologists found Inca mummies in the towers. The Inca towers are quite impressive.  

 This is the Twelve-Angle stone which serves as an entrance to the chamber for the mummy on two of the towers.  

The towers built by the original inhabitants are much simpler.  

 The area itself has a wild beauty.  

 There is even a “mysterious ” stone with the spiral that represents Pachamama,  or world mother, that messes with your compass.  

 We visited a local family, in stone houses, who offered more good food – potatoes, cheese and a kind of fried bread. They keep guinea pigs, not to eat but because they believe that caressing or sleeping with them is curative, (or at least that was what we were told).

 I love these people, ( the guinea pigs not so much).

Though it was cold and pelting with rain that night, the next day was sunny and we took a slow boat out on Lake Titicaca. 

First the Uros Islands. According to our guide, (who lives on Taquile Island, our next destination), these artificial floating islands were constructed to protect the natives from enemies and also to evade the conquistadors who wanted them to work as farmers. First they tried building on piles of reeds, but these floated away. Then they tried living on boats, but these were too constrictive. Eventually then found that if they built on the roots of the reeds they could maintain a habitation. They then went through several stages of construction   

(A small model of how the floating islands are made).    

Not all the inhabitants accept tourists, but the life must be hard, with no running water and schools and medical services a long boat ride away, so any extra income must be welcome. They do now have some solar panels to provide a little electricity. Their food consists of  fish, birds and the stalks of the reeds. 

Once again poor WiFi means I haven’t been able to complete this narrative so I’ll just leave it for now with some more photos.  

    The  kitchen  

  

 Adios.   

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