Puno and Lake Titicaca

Another early start, although we were both awake before the early-morning call as we hadn’t slept well anyway.  We were both really tired and it was a supreme effort to get out of bed and get dressed.  I had a slight headache and Trevor had to take a couple of Imodium tablets to fend off an imminent attack of the galloping trots; all he needed when spending hours on a long coach journey!   😦

We packed up our cases and left them outside our cabin door to be collected and put onto the coach for the next leg of our trip.  The sun had not yet risen and the air was crisp and cool.  We weren’t really very hungry, but we went into the dining room for some coffee, water and maybe some juice.  We still didn’t have much of an appetite; in fact I think this will be the only holiday ever where I could quite possibly go home lighter than I was when I came!

I had a cup of coca tea but I don’t know whether it actually does alleviate altitude sickness or whether the effects are psychological.  Nonetheless it was some fluid in my system.

We got onto the bus and set off on our way; all I wanted to do was sleep.  En route we passed through an interesting-looking little town called Juliaca.  It consisted of narrow streets which were already busy with traffic, lots of shabby but colourful shops, bars, restaurants, car repair workshops and the hustle and bustle of urban life.  If we’d had the time, I would have liked to have stopped here for a good browse around.

But our purpose for stopping here was to say goodbye to Lizzie and welcome a new local guide called Eduardo, who would be with us for our two-night stay at Lake Titicaca.  So it was “Bye bye Lizzie… no?”     😀

The coach continued on its way and we were due to visit another archaeological site on our way to Puno.  Before that, however, we were once again given a picnic lunch to eat at a scenic spot with views of mountains and valleys.  Once again a lot of the food went uneaten and it seemed a terrible waste when we’d seen local people who were obviously poor, but Rosario said that the coach drivers went through the lunch boxes and picked out any sandwiches, cake, chocolate, fruit etc. that was untouched and they gave it out to the poorer people, so that made us feel less guilty about not eating it.

This afternoon’s visit was to a burial site at Sillustani and also had a good example, set into the mountain sides, of the agricultural terraces.  It did, however, mean a walk of about 15 minutes up a slope; Eduardo said we would go nice and slowly but I didn’t feel up to it at all.  I told Trevor I’d just stay on the bus and wait for them to come back.

However, I wasn’t the only one by a long chalk who was in the full throes of altitude sickness.  Quite a few of us were really feeling under the weather, so Rosario had ordered some taxis to take us straight to our hotel, the Eco Inn at Puno, right on the shores of Lake Titicaca.  Trevor was feeling fine and dandy now and was going to the archaeological site, so I said I’d see him later.

The taxi, like a lot of other cars we’d seen on the road, had seen better days and the driver took off over the unfinished roads as if he was in the wacky races.   I was glad when we finally pulled up outside the hotel around 1.30pm.

Inside, we all piled in looking a sorry sight;  in fact Rosario had already organised a doctor who was there waiting for us.  I knew that lots of water, a couple of paracetamol and a lie-down would sort me out, but some of the others were in a bit of a state and needed oxygen as well as other treatment.

Once I got the room key I thankfully went in and went to bed.  It was a pity I couldn’t appreciate the large, airy room and its big window overlooking Lake Titicaca and the distant mountains.

Around 4.00pm a knock at the door indicated the arrival of Trevor, along with the suitcases which had been on the bus.  I was then able to get showered, wash and blow-dry my hair and have a change of clothes.  When you’re feeling lousy if you look lousy as well it makes you feel worse, so at least being clean and presentable made me feel better, as well as the paracetamol having kicked in which made my headache abate somewhat.

We pottered around a bit and decided to go down to the pleasant hotel reception area to get a cup of coca tea each.  Then we watched a bit of TV before meeting Stephen and Alison in the dining room, where a number of tables had been reserved for the Travelsphere party.  Through the glass windows we could see four or five alpacas tethered in a small grazing area outside; apparently they belonged to the hotel where alpaca featured on the menu!  Alison had also been dismayed at the earlier sight of a couple of cages with warm, furry, cute little guinea pigs in, just waiting to be killed and eaten.  Dreadful.   😦

The menu was quite extensive but as Trevor and I still weren’t 100%, we decided to go for something light like soup or a salad.  I chose an Andean salad which consisted of lettuce, tomato, onion, asparagus, avocado and some roast chicken breast, all served with a piquant dressing.  It was actually delicious and the first time for a few days that I enjoyed my food.  I didn’t dare have anything stronger than a bottle of mineral water to wash it down with, though!

Back in our room we relaxed, read and watched the football on the telly before settling down for the night around 9.30pm. It’s early, but being at altitude (we were at 12,000 feet) makes you very tired as everything is such an effort.  We had a “lie-in” in the morning as we didn’t have to be up until 7.30am, so I hoped we’d get a good night’s sleep.


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