Written by Emily
After an intensely swanky night in the amazing hotel, Rach and I awoke this morning feeling well rested and tranquil. This tranquility was instantly shattered as I checked the time and realised we had only a sweet 45 minutes to pack up our crap, eat breakfast and get dressed. Suffice to say, the method of packing we have become o so accustom to (I.e just hurling everything and anything into our bags and forcing the zip shut by hook or by crook) was very much employed.
Miraculously, we made it down to reception to meet Ruben and co for our question-provoking flight to Juliaca just about on time. In a way that we had come never to expect from our Costa Rica experiences, a huge, deluxe bus was just casually waiting outside the hotel for us and our luggage to clamber on in, and presently whisked us away to the airport.
Despite yesterday's problems, issues, arguments and endless quiries, everyone managed to check themselves and their baggage in without too much hassle, and after some Peruvian gift-shop crap perusing, we were on the plane and heading for Juliaca, which Ruben had previously told us was officially the ugliest city in Peru. Good times.
The flight was fairly uneventful, involving only an intense, elderly American woman seated next to rach and I, who within only 30 seconds of speaking to me declared that I looked far too cold and that she had a raincoat that I could wear over my knees if I wanted. I politely declined, and continued tto stare at the breathtaking views views from the plane window. Presently, we came to a slamming land at Juliaca airport. Staggering off of the plane, feeling woozy and lightheaded due to he hearty increase in alititude, we made our way to Baggage Reclaim.
This particular Baggage Reclaim area was unlike any I have ever before encountered, decked out in full Peruvian regalia, with brightly coloured dolls in traditional dress perched on top of the carousel and a fully fledged Pan Pipe band piping away a merry tune to add to the usual fun of baggage claiming, something that Rach and I had become quite dextrous at during our travelling time.
Suddenly shattering this delightful scene, came a bellowing shout of concern from Rachel. At first, I and the rest of the group were suspecting a major bag-related disaster, missing or broken perhaps, but a quick inspection from Ruben and I revealed that the problem was much more minor than initially feared. Her padlock had come off. That was the drama. Ruben grinned in my direction, before taking a shaken Rach under his arm, and firmly leading her and her padlock free bag towards the patiently waiting coach that was to drive us the remaing distance to Puno, the small town on the shores of Lake Titicaca.
Our first glimpse of Puno occurred some time into he journey, and sure was a welcome change to the unrelenting stream of roofless edifices that was Juliaca. It certainly provided snap-happy Trevor with some sweet photographic material.
Typically of this new premier service, the coach dropped us directly at the door of another,(granted not quite as amazing, but still a vast improvement on the gap year norm) hotel. We all filed off the coach, and into the reception, where tankards of cocoa tea were swiftly consumed to keep the alititude sickness at bay. We were then handed our room keys and sent on our merry ways. Rach and I became out of breath in an intensely embarassingly short space of time climbing the stairs to room 17. At the time we wholeheartedly blamed the altitude, and not at all our own bad states of fitness. either way, it did not bode well for the impending Inca Trail.
Once everyone had had a chance to aclimatise and settle themselves down all nice, Rubes took us out for a whirlwind trip around the town, and a bit of food times. Because of the possibility of altitude sickness kicking in at any moment, we had been advised to go easy on the old food and have something 'light'. Of course, for such seasoned fatties as Rach and I, this advice was instantly cast asunder, and I soon found myself feasting on a large slab of quiche, Julia's leftover soup, and residual chips from about five different plates. Rach munched down an even more impressive and cardiac-indusing meal of 'Sulchipapas', a highly un-Peruvian looking dish of chips and cut-up hot dog. We then washed down this selection with a nice hunk of cheesecake each.
After hanging at the hotel for a while after this mammoth consumption, Rach and I decided that we were somewhat bored. This plus the fact that neither of us seemed to be suffering any effects from altitude caused us to cruise on down to the main square, picking up Lisa on the way to check out some sort of Christian fesitval (or Jesus Rave as we liked to refer to it) that was going down. On arriving, we bumped into Robert, Clayton, Teresa, some casual Peruvian man who Clayton had befriended and of course Trevor and his zoom lens to view the events on the rickety stage at the front of a gathering crowd.
After an hour, the only highlights that had occurred were the casual Peruvian man teaching us some killer moves, and a man dressed as a clown who performed a slick routine to the first 30 seconds of Michael Jackson's Billie Jean before the music cut out to massive disapproval from the crowd. Weary of waiting around due to the rumour of fireworks and knowing that we had an early start the next day, we cruised back to the hotel to await tomorrow's festivities...