What happened to Peru? – part 2

My last post had us at the end of my short stay in Arequipa, my first stop in Peru. I had heard so much about Peru that I came with very high expectations. Maybe too high. Depending on which direction people were travelling in, seemed to influence their thoughts on a country.

This wasn’t just the case for Peru, it was everywhere I went. Travellers coming south from Colombia could not say enough good things about the place and everywhere else seemed to pale into comparison. Bumping into people who had come from Bolivia meant that anywhere that had a good bus service and decent food was Utopia.

I had travelled around and up through Argentina, a country that I absolutely love. A couple of weeks in Chile, including a blissful 4 days in Iquique, combined with Argentina probably wasn’t the best preparation. I had become spoiled by two of the jewels of South America. So Peru didn’t make the immediate impression on me that I expected.

Puno from afar.

And things didn’t get any better when rocking into Puno after a 6 hour bus journey from Arequipa. What a hole Puno is and if it wasn’t for the fact that it nestles the shores of Lake Titicaca, I doubt it would get any visitors at all. I got a taxi from the bus station and joylessly stared out the windows as I was driven to my hostel, Pirwa Backpackers. As with a lot of “budget” accommodation, I got a bad first impression of Pirwa, but the two days I had there were uneventful enough for me to forget my initial negative impression of the place. That said, there were no social areas so I didn’t see any other backpackers, and the breakfast was beyond perfunctory.

But the purpose of my visit was to get out to Lake Titicaca and see the floating villages, which I did on day 2. A half day boat trip ticked all my boxes and I thoroughly enjoyed the excursion, and knowing that this is how the islanders make their money, I had fun bartering with the locals as they displayed their wares. I did think to myself though, “would ever buy one of those mobile decorations?”, and I had my answer later that evening when meeting Vix and Hannah for dinner. You dumped them yet girls?

Whilst in Puno I also managed to tick off another item off my South American “must do” list. Eat cuy. Or more commonly known at home as guinea pig. I had to admit, it wasn’t a thought I relished but it was something I knew I had to try whilst in Peru so in i walked and order guinea pig and chips. I kid you not. And the all important question. What did it taste like? Yup, you guessed it. Chicken. I kid you not!

Another night in the soulless hostel and we were ready to move on. To a place that I was genuinely excited about. Cusco. Home of the Incas and gateway to Machu Picchu. As i boarded the 7.30am Inka Express to Cusco I had the sudden realisation that I was soon going to be visiting one of the greatest places in the world, one that I had thought about for many years.