Today, after a breakfast buffet & lots of Coca Tea, I join the coach ready for the journey to Lake Titicaca. We retrace our route out of the Canyon passing strange-looking moss which can live for 500 years & when touched, it actually feels more like a rock than moss.
On our way to Sillustani, we stopped at a shepherds´ corralled Alpaca to photograph them. As we arrived the farmer was just letting them out to graze. They all walked in a very organised line towards where they were going to eat, followed by the shepherd's dog keeping an eye on where the Alpaca went. The shepherd we learnt was 65 years old but he soon sprinted off after his animals, I was having trouble breathing properly just walking at this high altitude & he must be very fit & have a good supply of coca leaves with him.
We stop at a lake in the crater of the volcanoes we are travelling through for a picnic lunch. The altitude is making breathing difficult still but I walk to a nearby viewing mound to look over the beautiful blue lake below before returning to look at the garments that the locals have set out on stone tables near where the coach is parked. I buy myself an Alpaca cardigan for £15, it is very light & warm, it will be great back in England in the cold.
As we continue on our way to Puno at Lake Titicaca we stop to visit a family in their home, made of mud, brick & some dry stone walls. Within the grounds of the home are several buildings, a main living building, a storage hut (where manure is kept for fires) & a kitchen. The man that lives there gives us a demonstration of how he & his wife use the local tools for digging the land & planting the seeds for the corn. He then shows us how he uses his sling to hunt & scare off the foxes that come looking for his chickens.
After his display, he then brought out home-cooked food for us to try, a selection of potatoes that tasted beautiful along with bread, cheese & some corn fritters that I had to have more than one of. The man showings us his home is very funny if he were in the UK or USA he would probably have his own TV show. As we get on the coach to leave nobody can remember seeing him wash his hands between showing us his cow dung patties & giving us the food.
A short time after leaving the family home we arrive at the burial towers at Sillustani. The mound on which they stand was an island but a cliff collapse joined it to the mainland. We park at the base of this hill & begin our walk to the top. Because of the altitude, we stop several times on the way to catch our breath & a few of my companions are sick. I chew on some coca leaves & push on to the top where we are told about the burial towers. The special people of the villages would be buried in these when they died & a lot of alcohol & drug-laced concoctions were taken in the ceremonial burial. This also became the last party, of the favoured servants of the person being buried, as they were then murdered & buried along with them in the tower. The tower we were looking at had one side blown away by visiting Spanish grave robbers in search of treasure but we can see intact towers further along the ridge.
We continue on our way & drive through Puno to our hotel right on the side of Lake Titicaca. When I get to my room, which is on the ground floor, I look out of the room to see an Alpaca grazing outside my bedroom.
At lunch, I order a starter & the main meal. My main meal arrives without me having my starter. I thought they must have forgotten my soup. After tasting a few mouthfuls of my Alpaca dinner my soup starter arrives, to quickly be taken away when I tell them I don't want it at the same time as my meal. After the meal whilst having a beer, my soup is brought out again & the manager explains that the chef has made it for me, I explain that I wanted it as a starter, not as an accompaniment to my meal & he begrudgingly takes it away again & removes it from my bill.
After another beer & a chat about football with two of my companions, I retire to bed for an early night.