We ended our 3 months in Peru with a fizzle.
We left Ollanta and headed to the market town of Pisac. Hundreds of stands selling the alpaca stuff you see everywhere, but in the center there was a regular fruit and vegetable market. We couldn’t stay long, because Bode was sick (a cold) and the last thing he wanted to do was shop.
We hit an empanada stand near the town square for a quick lunch, and then we asked for some to go thinking it would be an easy dinner. Bode opted for a drive day rather than staying in Pisac, mainly because he wanted to watch movies in the back. So, we headed south avoiding Cusco and made it to the same hot springs we camped at on the way to Cusco. It was really cold (we were again at about 4100m), so only Jason braved the pools.
Bode still wasn’t feeling well, and didn’t have much of an appetite so we just gave him snacks. Jason and I ate cold empanadas and we all went to sleep early.
By 4:00am I was throwing up out of the side of the van. I’m not sure if we mentioned that the bathrooms at this place were pretty awful, but it wasn’t the kind of place you want to have a stomach bug.
I made it back to the bus, and spend a couple hours sitting in the driver’s seat with my head on the steering wheel before I could manage to crawl back to the bed. At this point, Jason was up with his turn.
By early morning, Bode was up and feeling better but the two of us were in bad shape. We were 4 hours to Puno and decided to just go for it, there was no town nearby so we really had no choice.
I don’t remember much of the drive, I was just trying to hold myself together. I had to have Jason pull over a few times, and I checked my watch every 20 minutes or so. I could not wait to get to a town and into a proper bed.
About 2 hours into the drive, I got a fever and every joint in my body was aching. Finally we were on the outskirts of Puno. There, we met with a miner’s strike that had the roads blocked. The collectivos were pulling up to it, letting the passengers out to walk the blocked area and pick up another bus on the other side. There was no way around, so we turned around and followed a motorcyclist onto a dirt road. We later found out a group we met was stuck there for 5 hours.
The road was steep and rocky, and there were cars going in both directions. We got stuck at one point, and I had to get out and put rocks under the tires to get up an incline. Then, it was just bumpy, which seems all the worse when you are achy.
Finally, we get to Puno – which is a pretty crappy town. Outside of town, near Lake Titicaca are some nicer hotels which allow car camping. But, once we pulled into the first one I went inside and got a room and stayed in bed for the next 3 days.
I hate leaving Peru on such a bad note–it has been a country full of surprises. We entered and spent a lot of time on beautiful deserted (and some not-so-deserted) beaches that rival any we’ve seen. Along the coast there was the amazing and terrifying drive that reminded me of Highway 1 in California.
And the people, so nice and hard-working. The woman, most of which have a baby or some giant load on their back wrapped in a bright blanket, several big skirts and all with a hat- some completely embroidered, some with sparkles that would make some of my friends jealous, some ridiculously tall bowler hats.
There were the big cities; Lima which surprised us, Cusco which disappointed us a bit. There were ruins, the majestic Manchu Pichu and Nazca Lines; but just as enjoyable were the pre-Inca sites we stumbled upon some of which still contained human bones.
There was also desperate conditions; the poverty, the cold in the mountains. I’m not sure what I expected from Peru, but I was definitely impressed. And now, finally feeling better we head off to see the other side of Lake Titicaca in Bolivia.