Monday, May 30, 2005

Puno, Cuzco and the time chase


Crossing into Peru involved a 10 hour drive to Cuzco, while stopping over night in Puno, and meeting an old friend, Chen, in Cuzco. While sight seeing the city, I have made a reservation for a flight to La paz, hoping I could mete Tim in Santa Cruz before the 3rd of June. Apparently, my time is even shorter, and the chase to get as quickly as possible to Santa Cruz has started…

The bus to Puno/Cuzco, which was full of escaping Israelis, reached the Peruvian border, and after stamping my passport, we continued on toward Puno, Peru. Puno is a very unattractive city which is a hub to several attraction cities in Peru (Arequipa, Cuzco, Lima etc.) and as a such, there is not much to see or do there. I looked for a place to sleep the night till I take another bus to Cuzco, 8 hours drive from Puno. I have found a small little place which was cheap enough (damn, it's hard to move from cheap Bolivia into pricier Peru), and with private bathroom. Only, that I had almost slept the night without any bath coz for some reason the whole fuckn hotel didn´t had hot water. Ten minutes before I got into the bed stinky, the hot water worked out and I had a really good shower that night! The next morning, I took off the hostel at 6:30 in order to take the 7:00 bus (which was actually leaving at 8:30…just fuckn great!!). The bus was a double story tourist bus, with comfortable seats and I was happy that at least I got a nice bus for the amount money that I paid. On the way, around 12 pm, a woman boarded the bus with a Chola sack (A square piece of Alpaca garment which the Cholas put their belongings and tie around their necks) and started yelling Asaditos, Asaditos. Then, while the bus continued in his journey, she laid her bundle right in front of me on a metal stand that bordered the staircase. She opened the knot of her bundle and to my amazement took in one hand a butcher chopping knife and started chopping pieces of meat out of a poor pig that was smoked a day earlier. For at least 30 min she kept on chopping the smoked meat, handing a bundle of chopped meat in a plastic bag with a smoked potato, which the locals ate with such delight. I decided to pass on this cuisine…After passing Sicuani and actually entering the Cuzco area, numerous locals boarded our bus and I was lucky that a highly stinking Chola sat beside me, and made the rest of the trip a nightmare (3 or more hours). There were times that I almost puked my stomach from the stench that came from her. In addition, she couldn´t get her feet to the ground, so every time the bus was taking a sharp curve, she flung all over me. As much as I try to be open and accept certain things, this trip was not something I could accept so easily. I was so lucky, that she gone of the bus only at the last stop, at the Cuzco main terminal. I was pretty damn happy that finally the long drive came to an end.
At first I wasn't impressed out of Cuzco, as I was in the poorer and less developed part of the city, but quickly I learned to love it´s colonial architecture and the numerous Churches that were all around.
Luck was on my side, when the next day I was sitting on the computer and found out that Chen was also on the messenger. Where are you man, I asked him. Im in Cuzco, where are you? He answered and with an happy comment I answered, im in fuckn Cuzco also! When do we meet?? So, after one hour we hugged under the steps of the massive Cathedral at the Aramas plaza. He had a lot of stories to tell me from their trek of the two lagoons near Sorata. Turned out, that he decided to head toward Cuzco while Barak went down to Rurre for the jungles and pampas tours.
We have toured the city for the past two day and managed to see quite a lot of churches, plazas and fountains, strewn all over this lovely town. We had also some good food here (including a family-size Pizza which was made especially to our request) and in general, life is beautiful, especially in Cuzco.
For now, I have booked a flight back to La paz, in order to retrieve my glasses and other stuff I have locked in the Austria deposit room, and then head toward Santa cruz in order to meet with Tim, which is already there, trying to collect information about the park and the way to get there. Talking with Tim just now, I have learned that my time is shorter than I taught, as we have to be in San Ignacio on Friday morning, a town which is 10 hours ride east of Santa cruz. This is very close, as I will only land in La paz around noon and I need to retrieve my stuff. Even if I take off from La paz the same day with a night bus, Ill be in Santa cruz only on Thursday morning, and we need to take a bus to San Ignacio that will land us at the little town before the only bus for La Florida leaves on Friday. Very close one, that´s for sure. Another option, which is possible, is to take a flight to La paz, from there to Cochabamba and from there to Santa Cruz (costing an aamzing 134 USD!!). This, however, would leave me without any trekking equipment beside my tent and sleeping bag. I could hire some of it in Santa cruz, though I prefer my own equipment...
I wait for an answer from Tim, so I could asses whether it is possible to take an alternative transportation to San Ignacio. Will update ya all!

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