We called the front desk last night to ask for a wake up call at 5:45. Unfortunately, they must not have understood our english very well, as they called at 4:45. We were dressed and fully awake before we realized it, so decided to enjoy a relaxed morning getting ready. Sigh, it looks like we are going to have to wait until we get home to get a rest.
We were picked up at our hotel and taken to the bus station where we caught a luxury tour bus for our 12 hour drive to Puno, with 5 stops at points of interest along the way. Our tour guide, Elio did a great job of explaining what we were seeing. We made a quick stop at Oropesa to buy a giant circle of Oropesa sweet bread for sharing. This bread is very popular in Cusco, and can only be bought here. Delicious!
Our next stop was Andahualillas to the Sistine Chapel of the Andes. This was a most beautiful church, with every wall covered in a mural, and wonderful gold plate framed pictures and altar. Some people think that it is garish, bit I found it to be absolutely breathtaking! Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed in the church, but notice the murals on the outside.
Our next stop was at San Pedro to see the ruins of Wiracocha, the male God of the heavens. Pachamama is the female god of the earth. This was one of the early ruins built, in the 12th or 13th century. Our tour guide explained that because so much volcanic stone was used, it is possible that this ruin was built to honour the volcano.
This was an interesting structure. If you look at the photo of what they believe the original structure to havebeen, you can see the original walls and columns in which the bases are still standing, with the main wall in the middle still intact.
We stopped for lunch in a lovely area in which the main activity is breeding alpacas and llamas. We had lots of fun watching the baby lllama playing.
La Raya is the highest point along this route, at 4313 meters, and the border between the area of Cuzco and that of Puno. We stopped for a quick picture of the beautiful snow covered Andes (and of course the ubiquitous tourist stands), and jumped back on the bus.
Our last stop was in Picara where the bulls that the Incas place on top of their houses are made. We visited a museum that showed the broken pottery that had been dug up from pre Incan times. Our guide told us that this town is where the Incan culture began.
We finally arrived in Pino, and caught a glimpse of Lake Titcaca from the bus. Puna is not an especially attractive city, so we are grateful to be leaving early in the morning for our two day trip to the floating islands, with an overnight stay with a local family.