Sunday, 12 May 2013

The Peru circuit (Day 3) - on the way to Puno - The 27th of April 2013

As we were getting ready to drive off, Cristina, a street vendor, whom we had bought some watercolour paintings to and had quite an interesting conversation with (on living conditions and difficulties for the average street vendor in Arequipa) the previous day, came by to wish Marie Hélène and I a safe journey to Puno.

We were touched, once it was clear that at that particular morning hour she would not be selling her husband's paintings to anyone and had genuinely come around to say good-bye.

Most of the day would be spend on the bus, so I just grabbed my camera and started trying to "capture" images of the bustling outside atmosphere, namely in the villages we were driving through.

Everything went according to plan until we were stopped by a Police office who stubbornly insisted on a list of the passenger tourists be presented on an official form by the Agency, which the guide had but which he refused to accept once it was handwritten and not typed.

This apparent "simple" situation led to an hour delay, in which we had to stand by the road until Fidélia managed to locate some place in the middle of the "desert-like" area we were at then, with a fax machine and have the required list sent to her.

Whilst we were waiting I started talking to a child who came by with her mother and ended up giving her some of the decorated pencils, balloons and lolly-pops I had brought to distribute to the local children.

Once we set off the beautifully desert landscape unveiled itself in front of us in an almost magical way ... as if we were travelling through some unknown territory to our senses. The Cabana and Collaga peoples who are said to have inhabited theses regions 2.000 years back are said to have developed an irrigation system, which allowed part of those lands to be cultivated. Some terraced patches of green could be seen in the distance with the snowy volcano peaks behind.

We were supposed to have stopped at some animal protected areas, but because of being behind schedule ended up just being able to photograph some vicunãs and alpacas from inside the bus.

The outside landscape colours gradually changed onto hues of blue pinkish colours, which looked almost unreal ...

We finally reached one of the highest peaks along the way ... and although none of us was affected by the high we kept on being permanently warned about that risk and what we had to do in case we would.

We then stopped at the Cañon de Cotahuasi, said to be the deepest canyon of the world (3535m), whose view was breathtaking. Some vendors stood there displaying a wide range of handicraft goods ... I couldn't resist buying some exquisite rag dolls and a baby alpaca foulard.

We all felt this stop to have been a "blessing" before continuing our drive to Puno via Juliaca where we would be having lunch at a local hotel.

The short trip to Juliaca, whose atmosphere we didn't even appreciate taking into account that we were really "starving", didn't take long.

I was approached by two siblings, whose mother worked as a desk receptionist at the hotel and managed to once more distribute some of the things I had brought for the children.

The truth is ... no matter where one travels to, a few balloons, candies and pencils can make the whole difference in some of these children's lives ... a shy smile ... a glimpse of happiness in their eyes ... a brief moment of "happiness" ...

(To be continued)

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