We are now officially "on the road", having left Cusco Saturday morning on the tourist bus for Puno and points south in Peru. We took the WonderPeru tourist bus to Puno, on the recommendation of a guide friend of ours from the South American Explorers Club in Cusco, who assured us that there were good sights to be seen on the way. We were just happy to be on time for our 7:15am departure, with all of our bags packed after 4 months in Cusco!
The bus was very comfortable, excluding the Brazilian ladies in front of us who wanted to see exactly how far their seats would recline. Luckily, Noah's Spanish was good enough to alert them of impending leg trauma...
Our first stop was a fantastic church in Andahuaylillas which, unfortunately, did not allow pictures inside, so please imagine some amazing paintings and artwork from the 16th and 17th centuries. We thought it was marvelous - the kids were suitably unimpressed.
Next stop was the town of Raqchi, the site of the ancient Temple of Wiracocha. This was really interesting, since this was a location in a great book we've read called "Inca Moon" (highly recommended, but not really a kids book). We were amazed with the center wall of the temple, which gives some idea of how large this grand temple was originally.
Back on the bus to La Raya, the highest point on the trip at 4225 meters above sea level (14,222 feet), where we were able to take some pictures of the landscape in-between saying "No Gracias" to all of the vendors who wait for the tour busses to come through.
Our final stop before Puno was Pukara, an ancient site from around 300BC, and is one of the original settlements in the area. Interesting, but we only got to visit the local museum, so no good pictures of the ruins. By this time, we were all kind of wishing that we were in Puno already...
Finally made it to Puno, and got settled into our hostel, enjoyed some not-so-fast WiFi, and went to bed.
The next morning, we hooked up with a local driver and went to visit the ruins at Sillustani. This is a pretty neat site on the shores of a lake about 45 minutes northwest of Puno.
Containing the ruins of ancient (pre-Inca) burial towers, we had a nice time walking around, taking pictures of (and exploring inside) the towers. We even saw some local rodents...not sure what this is ("tail-less squirrel gopher guinea pig").
After we left Sillustani, our driver took us to Llachon, which is located on a peninsula in Lake Titicaca.
After a very bumpy ride to get there, we found a very quiet (muy tranquilo) village on the shores of the lake. We stayed with a family (in "Habitacion Numero Dos"), and explored the island a bit.
Alex and Leah made a lot of new friends with the animals on the family property...
...and we all had a relaxing time (with the exception of one of the largest thunder & lightning storms we've been through in a long time - very exciting!)
This morning, we said goodbye to our host family
and caught a ride on a local boat heading back to Puno. We had a lovely (and slow) ride across Lake Titicaca, enjoying our time on the water (and all getting quite a bit of sun).
I guess we've been making a lot of memories, since it seems like weeks since we left Cusco, but it's only been a couple of days. Tomorrow, we catch a bus to Arequipa and continue our adventures to Colca Canyon. Chau!