It was an earlier start to the day as we made our way to the airport to catch a flight from Arequipa across the Andes Mountains to Lake Titicaca. On our drive to the Arequipa Aeropuerto (airport), we had a chance to see the beautiful, conical, snow-capped volcano known as El Misti. Although we didn’t have time to climb El Misti, with its’ altitude of 5,825 metres, it is considered a safe 2-day climb for novice climbers who hike with local guides.
At the airport, we returned the Hertz rental car with relative ease and felt relieved to be free of it. At a café in the airport terminal, we grabbed a bite to eat and talked briefly with a man from Winnipeg, Canada, who was on his third trip to Peru.
Our flight to Juliaca airport near Lake Titicaca was with Lan Airlines, which is part of the leading international airline alliance in South America. We felt confident that they could fly us safely over the mountains.
Bob took a quick picture of me as I made my way up the boarding ramp.
Our flight to Juliaca aboard the Lan Airlines aircraft was extremely short, just shy of a half hour. The jet airplane ascended very quickly to a point above the cloud cover which allowed us to see and take a couple of pictures of the snow-capped peaks below before we landed at Manco Capac International Airport at Juliaca. From there, we caught a taxi to Puno.
Our arrival in Puno was with much fanfare. A thunderstorm was underway, with vast amounts of chain lightning and thunder. I have never been so close to lightning before. We could actually look out the car window and see the lightning flashes right in front of and all around us.
At 12,500 feet above sea level, Puno is the highest town in the world.
As we made our way to Hotel Colon Inn, the rain was torrential by times, with water accumulating everywhere. The inclement weather did not stop the local members of the Quechua community from going about their business. It should be noted that most local Quechua people are shy of cameras. Because of local superstitions, the local people believe that a camera that captures their image actually “removes part of their soul” when the picture is taken. Many local people do not mind if you take their picture, but they tilt their heads to avoid looking into the camera lens. According to people from Puno, the best way to take a picture is to smile and always offer payment for a photograph.
Puno is considered Peru’s most important artistic and cultural community. That expression of artistic skill is very evident in the knitting and clothing worn by local people like these women that we saw returning from market. Woolen leggings, topped with either a skirt or dress, sometimes cotton, other times woolen, combined with a shawl draped across the shoulders, make up their habitual attire.
In a lot of cases, in place of a shawl, a vibrant blanket is folded and swung across the back with a baby snuggled within its’ folds. Here again, potatoes are once again king, and quite clearly a big part of the local diet.
At Puno’s outdoor market, most of the Quechua women sported some form of hat. The colours of the clothing were very vibrant.
This lady with a black hat was selling red onions and other vegetables. The customer leaving her vending location has a full bag of veggies!
Having walked around town in the cold rain, Bob and I decided to splurge and hired a taxi cycle to return to our hotel.
Pedal-power just as in Amsterdam, Beijing, or here in Puno is an everyday given reality in this hardworking community.
Our respite from the inclement weather was the quaint Hotel Colon Inn, a little hotel with ample charm. A space heater was provided because the temperatures outside were by then very chilly, and to top it off, they gave us three heavy alpaca wool blankets for our bed.
Checkout our next blog posting from when we visit the Uros people on Lake Titicaca
Frame To Frame – Bob & Jean