29.12.16 Arequipa, Peru to Puno, Peru
We had fun and games this morning, chasing around for a member of staff to pay our bill. To say that the hotel was quiet is an understatement. It was very unusual, sited in a very large park with two swimming pools on an urban estate, manned at both entrances by security guards.
Once we made our getaway, we found our way back out of the town relatively easily compared to the whole shenanigans yesterday, but still had to file out of the busy town in queues of traffic. This raises the question of where they are all travelling to, there is the bedlam of trucks, collectivo buses, taxis, motorcyclists and drivers all jockeying for position, until they reach the edge of town, where it all ends abruptly- do they all turn around and do the whole thing in reverse?
The road 34a was a good one sweeping upwards higher and higher, and mainly populated by coaches and slow going trucks, making it a good ride, if a little busy. When we first stopped for a drink, about 10 am, I noticed I was a little short of breath, and it was pretty chilly. After buying us a drink, I came back out to find there were snow drops beginning to fall, so we escaped quickly.
We knew we were climbing high, but were both quite surprised when we saw the sign which read 4,528 metres (14,716 feet). By far the highest we’ve been. We stayed up that high for a long time, and both of us noticed a tingling numbness in our fingertips, shortness of breath and a slight headache.
However, those things did not bother us at all, we were in the Andes, the real Andes that we have only seen in photographs, with colourfully dressed ladies, Llamas, Vicuna, pampas and plateaus, surrounded by mountains for as far as the eye could see. Wow. Just wow.
Our route turned us onto a lesser used road than the main one, a shortcut maybe, and we were very happy to enter further into the villages, just to see. It was all going really well, until the last section which was a challenging 12 mile half road, half dirt washed away type of thing. But we took it slowly, and made it into Puno at around 3pm, found our hotel (one recommended by John & Wendy- thanks!), before heading into the town square for a look around and a bite to eat.