A Travellerspoint blog

Sense of humour a must...

sunny 24 °C

The next morning the group hitched a ‘local’ Limo ride down to the port. Fortunately for our drivers it was all downhill but driving in Puno has it’s perils as we found out...’might might be right’ but even the pedestrians have a sting to their tail as our driver discovered when he attempted to mow down a young couple crossing the road.

Not many people get invited inside the Whitehouse but today Leigh and I were invited to meet the first lady. At this point it’s probably best for me to point out that for starters the house wasn’t exactly white and it was topped off with a reed roof! Welcome to Uros floating islands! Although it was located a 2km boat ride across the bay from Puno it seemed a world apart!

Once again ‘Slasher’ Whelan has been called out of retirement to participate in what has got to be one of the highest international football matches played....3,600m. Whilst the local opposition might have been young and had the advantage of the altitude we had maturity and cunning on our side. All I can say is that those watching definitely got value for money as the sight of 6 westerners bent double with the altitude barely 5 minutes into the game was a sight to behold! Despite the dubious start we were eventually declared the winners (5-1) but I still suspect that they took pity on us in the end!

Later that evening and probably in some form of revenge, we were dressed in colourful local costume and treated to some local dance before we met our ‘home stay’ families for the evening. As we tucked into a candlelit dinner with our new found family our initial fears about the language barrier were quickly dispelled as we engaged in a conversation which represented a game of charades!

Posted by Rosscopico 10:35 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Really, it's mind over matter...

sunny 25 °C

Today saw us depart Colca Canyon for a 7 hour bus ride to our next destination...Puno. During the course of our journey we stopped briefly in the mountains at the highest point (4910m) to make a wish in Andean tradition! However true to form, this moment of quiet reflection soon disintegrated into a full blown snowball fight! After another bum numbing ride and a stop-off to see the Chilean & Andean flamingos we finally arrived into Puno (3827m), the largest Peruvian town located on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in South America.

‘I’m dying, I need to be near a hospital!’ he said. Our guide raised an eyebrow both in surprise and concern...’what exactly is wrong?’ he asked. ’I think I might get a pulmonary embolism’. The foyer fell silent...once again CC, our in-house hypochondriac, was playing up. Deep down we all secretly suspected it was more a case of poor fitness than altitude sickness as he was a tad fond of the buffet counter!

On a more serious note, altitude sickness is not something to be ignored. With symptoms ranging from headaches, loss of appetite, dizziness, laboured breathing to vomiting it's something which can turn a great trip into a bit of a nightmare when travelling higher than 3,000m. So what's the best cure?....acclimitisation, time and a positive attitude..or in Leigh's words...ice-cream!!!!

Posted by Rosscopico 10:43 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

If only i had wings...

sunny 25 °C

After a rather restless night we were woken for our early morning excursion. As we huddled around the breakfast table it was evident that some of us were still feeling the effects of the previous evenings excess more than others, though that was soon to change as we drove out 90 minutes to Colca Canyon - a mere 4160m deep - to see the majestic Andean Condors! With the words of our guide (it’ll be worth it) ringing in our ears we watched and waited. Finally the sun broke through the mist and as the day began to warm up we were treated to some spectacular aerial acrobatics from the stars of the show. As we sat watching the amazing spectacle I overheard the delightful tones of an American teenager whinging to her mother that they had to go as they were behind schedule. Unfortunately her mothers attempts to explain that the condors didn’t quite work to the British Rail timetable fell on deaf ears.....ahhh the delights of teenagers! As the thermals increased and the Condors disappeared off down the canyon towards the sea i was left wondering whether their diets went so far as to include young children...and on that happy note i'll bide you adios amigos!

Posted by Rosscopico 10:37 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

The Irish get absolutely everywhere..

sunny 23 °C

This morning saw us strolling through the busy and colourful fruit market of the town with our guide! The fruit was piled high to the rafters and there was a mind blowing selection of exotic fruit on offer. Stopping by one of the stalls we were invited to try a mini Papaya...it was delicious and apparently the seeds are ground down to make ‘Macca’ the Peruvian equivalent of Viagra - a fact which I duly noted! Later that day though, I made the crucial error and bought some Macca toffees instead of Coca Toffees (which are recommended to overcome the altitude) and proceeded to share them out amongst the group..I’ll leave the rest to your imagination! Following another bus ride we arrived at our hotel in Colca Canyon (3,600m) and was shown to our room...the matrimonial suite no less! Sorry darling but I actually do have a headache, and altitude one at that! ;)

Now for those of you not in the know, there are 2 things you should avoid doing as you acclimatise to high altitude..the first is alcohol and the second is physical exertion....all i can say is someone should have reminded us of these facts a little earlier! Our dinner that night consisted of some lovely local dishes complete with Andean music....clapping away with gusto i was completely unaware that a colourfully dressed woman had sidled up alongside me.....indeed, I was to be part of the floor show! Dancing as best as a man with 2 left feet can manage I was soon reduced to a state of exhaustion as the altitude took it’s toll! However having set the bar high my fellow travellers were then summoned forth to participate in various dances each more complex and colourful than before...some even involved the gents being dressed up as the local women and whipped - Quite Bizzare! Later as we staggered home i spotted what is possibly the greatest discovery since Machu Picchu....an irish pub in the middle of no-where...with no more than a nod we piled in and filled the bar (which was not big enough to swing a cat). Mustering up my best Irish i ordered a Guinness only to find out it came in a tin, was shipped in from Australia and cost £9....sacrilege! Having found our new home, we partied the night away until the wee hours drinking ungodly concoctions with the locals!

Posted by Rosscopico 15:11 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

OAPs on the rampage!

sunny 28 °C

Turning the corner we were knocked for six by the spectacle that greeted our eyes on the main square of Arequipa (2300m)...an OAP protest complete with riot police armed with tear gas! Now I don’t know about you but how dangerous can a bunch of octogenarians really be? ‘Very dangerous’ I was assured by the local tourist policeman....with the government recently changing pension benefits they were on the war path. As I watched them shuffle by in their brightly coloured costumes I couldn’t but help feel sorry for the local official who was going to have to try and pacify this crowd..though at the rate they were moving, he still had a few hours head start to get out of dodge city!

‘Get thee to a nunnery’ I said and that’s exactly where we decided to spend our afternoon..Santa Catalina to be precise! Built in the 14th century it was almost a city in its own rights and offered a quiet sanctuary from the world outside. As our tour guide led us around I couldn’t but help wonder why someone would decide to follow life of solitude and reflection but as I filled out the application form on Leigh’s behalf I was sure she’d love it here.....now just the entrance interview to pass!

PS. All safe an sound following the 5.6 earthquake here in Peru. Unsurprisingly, Leigh didn't even notice as she was asleep!

Posted by Rosscopico 15:07 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

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