On the road to Cusco

How is it possible to be cold when you are covered with a ton (and I mean a ton) of blankets? I wouldn’t have thought it would be, but it is in Puno. I think I have got spoilt and forgotten my English days in unheated houses and flats where the side of your body sitting a foot in front of the fire was warm and your back was cold. Thankfully, I left Puno today and set off for Cusco in the hope that it would be warmer.

Rural scene on the altiplano
Rural scene on the altiplano

Having woken in plenty of time, I then almost missed the 8am bus. I only have myself to blame as I wasn’t watching the time carefully enough. However, I arrived and was rushed through Cruz del Sur checkin (they were a little put out that I had an electronic ticket and was fumbling with my phone to find it!), which included checking in my backpack, checking my non existent ticket and I.D., a wave over myself and hand luggage with a security wand and my photograph being taken. All the bus companies in Peru like to video you either as you get on the bus or whilst you are sitting in your seat. Presumably, the reason is security, but who knows? Apart from the photo being taken, it bears a close resemblance to an airline checkin.

Traffic in Juliaca
Traffic in Juliaca

The next 6 1/2 hours were very relaxing as I sat in my seat in the very front of the upstairs deck and watched the scenery and 2 movies, both at the same time, of course. It is a sign of being old, I feel, that it is considered a bonus to have the front seat of the bus! The movies were in English with Spanish sub titles (which I couldn’t read), which indicates that the stewardess assumed, probably correctly, that the majority of the passengers were English speaking.

High grassland
High grassland
Country village
Country village

The scenery was spectacular as we drove across the altiplano and up through the mountains and valleys before arriving in Cusco at about 2.45pm (only 15 minutes late). Mary Jean, my Airbnb host, was there to meet me and we then caught a taxi to her house, once she had done the bargaining with the driver. This was a major bonus for me as this is the worst part of arriving in a city. Leaving is not quite so bad as the hotel or hostel can call a taxi and usually knows how much it should cost.

The road to the mountains
The road to the mountains

I have a very cosy room at the top of the house with views over the rooftops. Not long after I had arrived and was thinking of going for a bit of an explore, the heavens opened and massive hailstones started pounding on the roof. Needless to say, I delayed venturing out.

Hailstones on the roof
Hailstones on the roof

It was almost dark when I did so my first real experience of Cusco was at night. It is about a 10 minute walk into the centre from the house along narrow cobblestone roads that are filled with traffic. The pavements are quite narrow so pedestrians sometimes have to join the cars on the road. However, the atmosphere was wonderful and I immediately liked the city. I walked around the Plaza de Armas, which is huge, and one or two of the other plazas before going to the supermarket and back to my latest temporary home. It was enough to whet the appetite for further exploration tomorrow though.

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