From Copacabana, in Bolivia, to Puno, in Peru, it is only a short drive. Peter and I arrive there at noon.
For the afternoon we booked a trip to the floating islands on Lake Titicaca. The floating islands are the home of the Uro people. As of their history, they existed before sun. They have “black” blood and are resistant to cold, could not drown and were immune to lightning. They have lost their status as super beings, because they were disobedient to the laws of the universe and have mixed with humans. The Uros were one of the first peoples in the Andes, long before the Incas. The Incas treated the Uros badly because of their simple way of life and saw them as lower class people. Eventually, they have retreated to the water to escape the attacks.
Despite their simple way of life, the people of the Uros have outlived the highly developed Incas.
The islands consist of about two meters of tort and are covered with a about on meter of reed. On the smaller islands live 5 to 7 families. One of these islands has perhaps 15 to 20m in diameter. An Island can last for about 30 years if it is well maintained. The islands close to Puno have a population of about 2,000 people. Meanwhile, tourism is a major source of income.
On the evening of the first day Peter and go out in Puno. Too many mojitos force me to stay another day in Puno. I don’t want to drive about 400 km to Cusco in a doubtful personal condition.
Peter is doing better than me and is moving on.
Just 40 km from Puno is the big city of Juliaca. At the exit of the city the road was covered with smaller and up to football sized stones and partially with shattered glass. Every now and then burned something slowly on the street. As far as it was possible I drove slowly through the mess. After about 100m I got stopped by locals. A demonstration, apparently a bit violent. Soon I was surrounded by a whole bunch of people. But I am still 100 to 150 meters away from the mob. The locals told me to take a detour – for security reasons. It is only 15km more to drive. Apparently, the previous days the demonstration was at the other road. Again, the road was barely passable for 300 to 400 meters and also covered with stones and broken glass.
Cusco’s architecture is a real highlight, though, as almost all of South America, with dubious historical background.
Once Cusco was the center of the Inca Empire. The Spaniards destroyed many of the Inca buildings and sites and used the stones to build their massive huge religious buildings and there are many of them in this city.
In the evening I meet Peter again, who took Maurice from Ireland/Australia with him – also traveling by motorcycle. The evening ends again very late what prevents a sightseeing tour the next day. Peter has a bad influence on me. He says of course, it is the other way.
I drive to Ollantaytambo, which is located only about 60km from Cusco. Early in the morning when I walk through the city to organize the tickets for Machu Picchu there are some streets occupied and blocked by people around the hostel. On the city exit road tires were blocking the street completely. Here the mob did not seem so angry as two days ago. Children were playing in the street and it was more cheerful. With the motorcycle but I can easily squeeze through.
Ollantaytambo was once also a very important Inca city too. It is one of the last villages where you can see the city planning of the Incas. Ollantaytambo is the gateway to Machu Picchu. Either by train or on foot on the famous Inca Trail. Although there are a lot of tourists, the small village is laid back.
The owner of the hostel, where I stay tells me about a back entrance to the main attraction. Close to the village there is the temple hill. There were large terraces to grow vegetables, but mainly it was a religious site. So I was able to save 70 or 80 Soles. I was lucky that there was no security guy there, when I sneaked in.
I meet Peter for the last time here. He had already arrived the day before. A you already know the story of the wrong 50 Soles bill.
I start early in the morning. First, with the train along the raging Urubamba River. A 1 1/2 hour ride, which ends in Aguas Calientes – named Machu Picchu village now. Machu Picchu village is located at about 2,000 m above sea level. From there you climb up by bus about 350 vertical meters to the Inca city on a steep, narrow, winding road. A sprawling large facility, nestled in the mountains, that rise around in the air. A city in an inaccessible spot. Everyone knows Machu Picchu from television and magazines. It is an experience to see it live.
27.03. / 28.03.
For two nights I come back to Cusco. I have to get some things done and for that, a big city is much better than a small village.
I almost need an organizer to get along with my appointments.
At the first evening I meet Kerstin from Germany. We met in Ollantaytambo the day before.
At 28.03. afternoon, Steve and Ollie from Botswana pass by at the hostel. Steve Harpt – one of the three Steves – who Andi and I met in Patagonia. Ollie, a good friend of Steve, came from Botswana for about 2 weeks to travel with him around Cusco. They were close to Cusco and it would have been a shame, if we had not met.
As I stroll through Cusco, I suddenly see Alfred and Rosi sitting at a table in a restaurant. Andi and I met Alf and Rosi the first time in Ushuaia and then again at the border to Chile at Chilecito. We traveled with them for three days on the Careterra Austral. We chat for a while and made an appointment for the next evening.
I had a good time the last few days.
I have met new people, Peter, with whom I have spent happy evenings, the very lovely Kerstin and I met “old“ friends again.
There are days when the homesickness disappears.
Thank you for reading, Juergen.