Tuesday, 13 November 2012

CHAPTER. REST THEN ONWARD

Well we have had two days "R and R" in Cusco and what a delightful city to have a break in. Cusco was in its time the main religious and artistic and cultural centre for the whole of South America and is probably akin to what Venice or Rome were to Europe. Anyway Cusco is still a delightful mixture of arts and culture and history combined with friendly people, great hospitality and great food. A perfect place for saddle weary travelers to rejuvenate their tired bodies and minds.




"Blow,blow,blow your horn" festivities put on specially in our honour!



"And when the Saints come marching in".
" How I wish to be in their number..........."
St Tremblo,the earthquake saint, getting an airing



But all good things come to end and so on a Monday morning we saddled up the steads and hit the road down to Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca. The high Altiplano was at its stunning best and there is no doubt that the high altitude air has a visual quality of its own. The vistas just rolled on and on....



Reality did strike home however later in the day in the form of Señor Starsky and Señor Hutch from the local Juliaca branch of the Policia Carraterra. It seems that the two gentlemen had the temerity to pull me over and then suggest I was speeding. Who,me? There were many angry words from very red faces in very rapid Spanish. I rapidly decided not to air my Spanish and that the best way out of this situation was for them not to understand me and me not to understand them. It worked although I did say "Lo Siento" or "I am sorry" at least six times. It seemed to be the best only Spanish phrase I knew!

After what seemed like an eternity but was probably a half hour Senors Starsky and Hutch got back into their wagon and beckoned us to follow them back into town. I do not understand a Spanish beckoning sign and was not interested in any special overnight accomodation offers they might have in mind so we stayed put ! They disappeared over the horizon and on to Puno we went in the opposite direction albeit a little slower.

And as we came back thru Juliaca this morning boy oh boy was I a model of speeding virtue but there was no sign of the two angry Senors of yesterday.

" Al the Paca" at the hotel that night. More intelligible than the traffic officers!



Then from Puno we made the strategic decision to miss Bolivia and to head down to Arequipa in Peru and thence down to the coast and into Northern Chile. Arequipa has a special quality of its own and is often used as an acclimatization stop for land travelers heading into the high altiplano as it has a nice mid point elevation of about 2200 metres.

So after getting up to 4450 metres again today it looks like our "high jinks" are over and it is back to "normal" heights. However I might say it does seem a little surreal barreling along at 100kms per hour on a road that is considerably higher than the top of Mt Cook.


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