We left Arequipa at 8:45am; a much more civilized hour, if you ask me, and traveling the byways of Peru to land in Puna. This is where Lake Titicaca is located, and at 12556 feet elevation feels quite challenging. My legs feel like heavy weights, I feel lightheaded and headachy. On the plus size no nausea and vomiting, which I am told can be common initially. The sensation will pass hopefully soon; Barb and I have been upping our caffeine and chewing the local coca leaves, which is supposed to help. We shall see...
We left Arequipa (a mere 7,661 feet (those punters), wondering why ice cream is called frozen cheeses in this country among other mysteries... We discovered a lovely Archeological Museum the last day, which showed the large ceramic pots used for making and fermenting wine (my kind of people), and some eerie pottery faces. The Cathedral tour was okay, but the hike up the tower to see the bells was a challenge. I must say that is was refreshing to learn that they actually use these bells; I find it disconcerted to huff and puff my way up some tower just to learn that there are actually tiny speakers at the top from which they broadcast recordings of bells... (I am looking at you Notre Dame...)
The bus was a bit less comfy, mainly because Barb's seat would not recline at all, while mine had a slow hydraulic leak of some kind which meant that it kept creeping into a fully reclined position, gazing into the eyes of the man behind me if I put any weight on it. I am sure that this looked ridiculous; me fading slowing down and espisodically wrenching myself back upright, Barb sitting stiff and straight like some kind of schoolmarm at her desk....
The tour of The Cathedral off the Plaza de Armas was interesting in what they didn't tell us. The famous organ of thousands of pipes made in Belgium in 1870 was damaged on the way to delivery in Peru and was played for 40 years out of tune. It has since been repaired after the earthquake of 2001. A woman was playing it while we were there and it was lovely to listen to. As we were settling our hotel bill we spent time chatting with Miguel who manages the hotel and has been a great source of where to go and what to see. He is a 37yr old entomologist from Venezuela who has travelled to Cuba, Argentina and several other countries on university stipends studying ants. He pulled up pictures on the internet to show us what he had studied and his passion was so evident. So sad that he can't go back to his own country (for reasons that we did not discuss). He kept telling us to visit Venezuela when it became safe again. We will!
Traveling to Puno we were on a massive, flat, arid plain with large hills in the distance and then snow capped mountains beyond. There were occasional vicuna and cattle but little else. Pulling into Puno and glimpsing Lake Titicaca beyond, the possibilities for the next few days of exploration lay before us. If we can catch our breath and our legs don't feel leaden with every step we'll do fine. We bought fresh coco leaves at the market and have been drinking coco tea. Hopefully, this does the trick.