We had two days in Cusco after Salkantay and I spent both days essentially doing nothing. I found an excellent creperie with a beautiful view over the city and I sat there to eat and write, enjoying some time to myself and a chance to sit and relax after putting my body through so much. We also finally gave in to the absurd amount of ladies offering massages in the centre of town, paying around $12AUD for a one hour massage which may not have been the most skilled but certainly did the job.
On Friday we caught a night bus destined for Puno, the final stop before the border between Peru and Bolivia. Puno was not a well-off city with very little tourism, known for its petty theft of both locals and tourists. Street vendors and markets replaced closed-down shops as I walked along the broken path, dodging the gaps in the concrete and the endless amounts of rubbish. It may not sound like much but I loved the feel to it and it reminded me of parts of Africa, making me feel more at home than I expected.
The markets were mayhem with each fresh produce stall looking the same, making it a challenge to decide who to buy from. The meat section came next and then the make-shift restaurants, with customers sitting on plastic chairs that intruded on the walkways adding to the plethora of smells already filling the building. Kids seemingly belonging to no one ran around the floors, stray dogs utilised their olfactory senses in an attempt to find leftover food or someone nice enough to donate current food. Shop owners yelled out prices and customers pushed through the walkways just trying to get everything they needed in a timely and orderly fashion. It was definitely mayhem, but I loved every minute of it.
In the afternoon I walked to the top of the Condor viewpoint and looked out to Lake Titicaca and the city that lay beneath me. I took my time to breathe in the view, after all it was a less-than-pleasant journey of 600 stairs to get up there, bearing in mind that my legs still hadn’t fully recovered since Salkantay. The houses were dotted as a sea of brick red with mountains behind me and the lake in front, a stretch of blue so wide it was hard to believe it wasn’t the ocean.
With our 24 hours in Puno finished we got on another bus bound for Copacabana, a town still sitting on Lake Titicaca but from the Bolivian side.