Cusco and Puno

The arrival that evening into Cusco was a tad blurry. I definitely was feeling the altitude quite a bit, and it was cold.

A sensible me would have had a quiet dinner then gone to bed. The actual sequence of events was rather the opposite. The closest restaurant open for food was a Pisco bar, so of course it would have been rude not to sample the pisco. Alpaca sliders and several pisco sours later, a few of us let Christian (our tour leader) lead us astray in the Cusco night clubs.

Heaps of fun. I even thought it was great to take part in a ‘dance-off’ circle, and whipped out a few pirouettes then the splits on the D Floor. Drunken-Di you may be thinking? Hmmm… at least I am proud to say that I didn’t jump up and dance on the bar with several other locals, even with persistent encouragement from Bec…

Next day = death day.

I wasn’t sure if it was a fierce hangover, or altitude sickness, or gastro, or all of the above. Sick sick sick.

I tried to join the group for dinner and managed two sips of wine then a couple of bites of Ceviche. Trout ceviche was so rich, it was not a smart idea to order it with my delicate disposition. Josh knew I must be really ill, to not even be able to finish a glass of wine.

Dodgy guts kept me on my toes all night. I was on struggle street. I later found out my sickness was a bout of a gastro bug, as Josh unfortunately suffered the same, a day later (and without excessive amounts of pisco being involved).

Cusco was a awesome city though. I summed up some energy to buy an alpaca sweater! And a hat. It was pretty cold as soon as the sun went down!

I didn’t enjoy the full extent of what Cusco had to offer because of my fragile state, but at least I can say I experienced the night life! With the full day bus ride to Puno the following day, Imodium was essential.

Thank goodness the Imodium did its job successfully. We were able to see some interesting Peruvian countryside and cities on the way to Puno – an eight hour bus ride. The bus was actually pretty luxurious and comfy.

I was still feeling waves of sickness mixed between feeling excited that I was finally feeling human again. Boogied along to some new tunes as I started to think about planning my set list for DJing at Laundry Bar again in April.

I finally felt right, just in time for a night out in Puno with the group, and our arrival was perfect to coincide with one of their main festivals. Dancing in the streets and fireworks – this was their part of the year and many people traveled to Puno especially for this dance festival.

Fireworks were going off right outside our hotel window late into the night… I thank zopiclone for the sleep I wouldn’t have otherwise had!

Our Lake Titicaca trip started with a visit to the Uros communities, on floating islands made from reeds. The locals put on a demonstration of how the floating islands are made, and we learnt about their lifestyle and history. I found it all a little inauthentic and too touristy now, but it was definitely an interesting place and they were very friendly. Good on them for jumping on the tourism bandwagon and making themselves a brief living.

I bought a cushion cover with a cool design of the zodiac calendar which I thought was woven buy the local villager, but then saw the same one later in the day at another village. Oh well… Just as well it was only NZ$16/40 Soles.

The tour continued to Taquile Island, with the added adventure when our boat broke down half way across the lake. We eventually succumbed to being rescued, with the lucky timing of another tourist boat travelling nearby in the same direction.

We trekked to the top of the island, still a struggle with the altitude but I was starting to adjust. The island was beautiful and boasted some spectacular views over the lake.

The highlight of the day was the delicious trout for lunch and learning about the interesting customs of the locals. A very unique culture with men proven to be great by their knitting ability. Yes, knitting ability. The young single men have to knit their own hats to a certain strength and quality, to pass a test before being allowed to move in with a girlfriend.

The test involves pouring water into the hat in front of the town president and all of the girl’s family, and the water has to be held inside the knitted hat for five minutes without leaking through. Interestingly, if the hat passes the test the girl and boy then live together in the boy’s parent’s house for two years as a trial before they are allowed to be married. Sounds sensible.

I wonder what equivalent would be suitable for our modern day. I don’t know any men who can knit, and I’m not sure I’d find it that useful in a suitor. Cooking and wine provision perhaps…

The boat ride back was spent sunbathing on the top deck. Bliss!

Our time in Puno ended with a group dinner out with a show, which included a performance of several different local dances. Costumes were amazing, especially the masks!

Next up on the tour was La Paz, in Bolivia. A not so fun bus journey, precarious ferry journey, then another bus got us to our hotel in La Paz and a yummy Mexican dinner.

A group of us signed up for mountain biking down Death Road. The nerves of what we were about to embark on encouraged us all to have an early night and a good sleep.

I was sensible to avoid watching the YouTube videos of buses falling off the side of the road. But I knew the danger was going to be serious. Argh!

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