The Church 1 – Poor People 0

Another early start, this time for our ten hour bus to Puno. But this was a bus with a difference. This was a tour bus that was stopping at various places for sight seeing, and so we had to wear green lanyards with VIP passes to show we had paid for museum visits etc. It all felt very Wallace Arnold. Or, going by Charlotte’s age, Saga.
Our first stop was a very nice old church, where we were given 25 minutes to dash round. This was when we discovered many of our fellow passengers were Germans. I made a note to try extra hard not to mention the war…..
This trip was on the ‘Route to the Sun’ highway, and took us through breath-taking scenery for 250 miles through the Andes. Not only was it breath-taking for the views, but for the altitude too, as we passed over 4000 m.
I settled in to listen to some music (my phone having gone, my iPad is now my source of music, so it’s a bit like having the biggest MP3 player around, like having a Ghetto Blaster back in the 80s). My brother Dave had suggested that this would be a good place to listen to Cortez The Killer, one of Neil Young’s classics, and a true favourite of mine. If I was to be pedantic, I could say that technically it was a poor suggestion as Cortez was from Mexico, many thousands of miles away and nothing to do with Peru, but of course, I’m not……
Other favourites today were Iron Sky by Paolo Nuttini, Your Time is Going To Come by Led Zep, Utopia by Goldfrapp, Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick by Ian Dury, You’re So Vain by Carly Simon and I Woke Up This Morning by Ten Years After. Mind you, I was so chilled, everything sounded good.
Strangely enough after yesterday’s blog I had been ushered into the window seat by Charlotte this morning… Having spotted the marauding Germans on the bus, I suggested to Charlotte as we approached the lunch stop buffet it might be a good idea to beat them to it. Next thing I knew she’d donned a crash helmet and pads, and was battling her way to the front, ensuring we were second in the queue! Good girl! I filled up very nicely on alpaca stew (several helpings).
There were several other stops, all designed to try to get us to spend some money with the locals, which I suppose is fair enough. The last one was a museum in a tiny village containing Inca artefacts. All very well, but it was so badly done. It was how I imagined Brian Potter would display a museum at Phoenix Nights.
Peru has lots of very very poor people, and is described as a 3rd World country, but with the possibility of becoming 1st World. What annoys me in particular is this – we are constantly bombarded by beggars on the street. Sometimes I give, but more often don’t. However, we have visited church after church, all rammed packed with gold and silver and with armed guards on them, and I can’t help thinking something is wrong there. Now, I’m not religious, and don’t want to upset anyone who is, but all I see is money being kept within the church (and here it’s all Catholic) and a privileged few gaining from it.
We were told today of a government scheme to help the poor by providing de-worming medicine to them, but had screwed up on a grand scale by giving the wrong stuff, and poisoning many many people to death. It went on to say they were trying to do something to improve it! My suggestion? Use medicine instead of poison.
Anyway, a great trip with superb scenery. At the end we could see snow capped peaks in Bolivia, at 6,400m. Those are the highest mountains I’ve ever seen.
We’re in Puno now, on Lake Titicaca (Finbar Saunders favourite place) for a couple of days. We’ve got used to our constant moving now and have many things in place to make it easier. For example, we always now email the hostel ahead to ask how much a taxi should be from the bus station to them. They often will reply that they’ll come collect us for free, or give us a price we mustn’t pay more than. This is great, as seeing as we negotiate the taxi price before getting in (no meters here) it gives us a good basis for haggling. When I’m given an initial ridiculous price (say £2 for a 30p journey!!!) I like to reply in my finest Terry Thomas voice “Now listen here, young man. Do I look as if I’ve just stepped off the ferry from Mental Land? How about we start again and be a little bit sensible about it all. There’s a good chap.” Works a treat.
Any way, exploring Puno for the day tomorrow! Ding Dong!




I have no idea what they sell in there…


My Peruvian take on the classic 80s tennis photo!!!


Proudly showing off our bus passes at 4,335m


I suspect I know who was responsible for building this…


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