Our Explore group of 20 met up in Lima, at the Esperanza Hostal in Miraflores. The Esperanza was not your typical Hostal. There were 40 fully-carpeted rooms with private baths, situated in an affluent, residential neighborhood. This is where the most popular restaurants and shops are located. I developed a real taste for Pisco Sours, a drink made of lime juice, egg whites and Pisco Brandy. They go down easy and pack a big punch!
The entire group was YOUNG, about our children’s ages, with no one over 35 but us “oldie” Americans! They were from different areas of Britain, and promptly adopted us as surogate parents. Fun-loving surogate parents.
Spent the first two days in Lima visiting the Cathedral, touring around the city, and the “Gold Museum”. Lima didn’t knock my socks off, but The Gold Museum was something else! This collection contains a wide assortment of pre-Columbian gold handicraft, weapons, ceremonial objects, jewelry and gold from both the Incas and pre-Inca civilizations. I don’t recall ever seeing such unbelievable objects in gold – one after another along with some of the best preserved mummies I’ve ever seen!
An early flight to Juliaca, on the high Altiplano, the next day. We rapidly discovered the altitude was 12,552″ as the group staggered off the plane, gasping for breath.
Chris, our guide, immediately started pushing “Coca Leaf Tea” on us to deal with altitude sickness. Huh? Coca Leaf Tea? First we heard about it. Yes, it is distilled from the same leaf as cocaine, is a legal substance in Peru and contains a significant amount of cocaine. No wonder it works…It doesn’t taste that great but who cared? And, when in Rome…..or Peru….in this case….
After our happy group peeled themselves away from this “Coca Break”, it was time to drive to Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca. This is the world’s highest navigable lake, at an elevation of 12,500′ We stopped at Sillustani which probably dates from the 14th century. Sillustani is known for their “chullpas” or funerary towers. There are over 60 towers and the style depended on the rank of the person buried there. Are you important? Then you get a BIG tower.
In Puno, we took a boat trip on Lake Titicaca to explore the floating reed islands. The Uros Indians live on islands made from totora (a reed that grows in the shallows), and also construct their boats and homes from these reeds. We all got in these reed boats to explore the Lake, praying that the boats actually were water-tight and floated. View image
Don’t you love the boat’s design – the little animal heads and ears? The locals also sold miniature boats made of reeds. Since we had 7 grandchildren at that time, “power-shopping” began with the purchase of little boats. Never let it be said that ex-Marine and I don’t do our best to help the local economies.
After a night in Puno…..