Posted by: Talie Morrison | December 7, 2009


Tourist Bus to Puno

After going to Machupicchu, I booked a bus to Puno, which is on the banks of Lake Titicaca.   I booked the Tourist Bus  – which not only got me to Puno, but we stopped to see museums and Incan ruins along the way.    It was a 10 hour trip, but at least it was broken up by getting out and touring along the way.   After all I am here to see the country!

Sales at the top of the pass

Lake Titicaca is at 3,830 meters above sea level – That’s higher in altitude than Crested Butte.   And it is a huge lake 170 km long and 60 km wide (you will have to do the conversion yourself!)  It is the largest lake in South America.    I booked a two day trip out on the lake –  We went out to the Islas Flotantes (floating islands) of the Uros People  first.   These people  have cut reeds and made actual floating islands and they anchor them to the bottom of the lake

Lake Titicaca

and then build houses, boats, and actually live on their constucted islands.     It was facinating!     Then we went part way across the lake (for 3.5 hours) to the island of Amantani.   We were “assigned” to families who would feed us and house us for the night.   I was lucky to be paired up with a lady from St. Louis (who spoke fluent Spanish) and  her boyfriend from Lima , who only spoke a little English, but at least I had a translator with my family.   And we were lucky, the family spoke Spanish – some of the natives on the island only speak Quechua.   After lunch with our families, we hiked to the top of the mountain, saw the Incan ruins and watched the sunset.   Then after dinner with our families,  we dressed up in the local dress and went to a fiesta!   I know it was a bit touristy, but it was great fun – and it is one of the ways not only to experience the way of life of the locals, but also to spread the wealth to those who can really use it.

Part of my host family!

The next morning, we got on our boat to go to Taquille (another island on the lake).   It was blowing pretty hard and the waves were pretty big!   Some of our passengers were very nervous (and I got to admit, I was a little concerned).   But we made it – toured Taquile – a beautiful little island, and by the time we headed back to Puno it was sunny and calm!   With 3.5  hours on top deck, I got a wee bit sunburned!   But it was worth it!   It was beautiful!

From Puno, I headed down to Arequipa, another 6 hour bus ride – no stops this time.   I had one of those incredible experiences when I got to Arequipa.   … So Arequipa is the second largest city in Peru.   Before I left Puno, I was warned about “taxis and unsavory characters”.   Actually, Miguel in Cusco had also warned me that Arequipa was a big city!  Miguel had given me the phone number for his brother who drives a taxi in Arequipa, but when I booked the hostel where I was going to stay in Arequipa, they said they would pick me up at the bus station.   My bus was supposed to get in at 5:15 pm.   But the bus actually arrived at 4:oo pm.   I didn´t see a pay phone, so I just thought I would take a taxi to the hostel I had booked (really, I am capable to take a taxi!)  So I went to the line of taxis, and a man asked me if I wanted a taxi.   Pretty normal stuff, eh?….   His taxi was a “proper taxi”,  so no worries!   And believe it or not, he turned out to be  Miguel’s brother!   Way Cool!   (Totally an “Abraham Moment”).   And, of course, he knew the place where I had my reservation (since it was originally a recommendation of Miguel’s!)

    I booked a 3 day excersion down into the Colca Canyon – which they say is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon.   But the way they can say that is because there is a range of mountains right next to the canyon, and if you measure from the top of the highest mountain to the bottom of the canyon, yes it is deeper.   But having seen both, I don´t think you can really compare them – they are just different.   But it was beautiful, very lush and green in the bottom.   We stayed a lodge in the bottom the first night, and the next day we hiked from little town to little town in the canyon.   The second night we spent at the “Oasis” with a swimming pool – I wish I had the photos to show you…..

    So from Arequipa, I took a bus to Tacna.   So here I had been so careful in Arequipa when everyone had warned me about it being such a big city and dangerous and all….              but then in Tacna, while I was having dinner with a lovely new friend (a kindred spirit from Australia!   A 60+ year old female traveling alone!  Robyn is definitely a kindred spirit!) – and while we were having dinner, I guess I let my guard down – and while one guy created a diversion, in a second, the other guy had taken my daypack!   We realized what happened and chased them out into the street – but they were gone…….    Big Bummer!    So my life has gotten a little more complicated since then!   Not only was my passport and camera in the pack, but my flash drives (with the backup of my photos) and lots of little stuff that I will really miss (my iPod shuffle, my swiss army knife, my postcards showing Crested Butte,  my Lonely Planet guide books,  all the names and addresses I had collected in my first few weeks of my trip,  stickers for kids along the way, and even my friend “pete” – which some of you will know! 🙂  Wah!

Arequipa and Misti, the volcano, in background

So I have been in the process of (first) getting a new passport – that has entailed flying to Lima    The American Embassy is in Lima and I was able to get a temporary (one month) passport which at least got me out of Peru and into Chile.    Now I’m in Santiago and will apply for a permenant passport tomorrow (Monday).   It should take 3 weeks, but I am sure I can find lots to do in Chile ( I hope I can travel around as long as I don’t go out of Chile) while I wait for it to get back to me….   and hopefully, Christmas won’t mess up the timing too much…   Once I have a passport again, I can resume my trip.   This morning,  at the “duty free” shops in the airport, I  replaced my camera and now I am glueing it to my side!   Ah, the joys of travel….. (some of the joys are more fun than others!)

      My first impressions of Santiago are awesome.   It is big (only 7 million people conpared to Lima’s 8 million).   Angie told me I would love Santiago and she was right!    It seems to be a very clean city for being so large.   I’ve booked a hostel in a “bario” (that’s a neighborhood) called Bellevista – very Bohemian – and I´m loving it.  I scouted out the American Embassy (today is Sunday) and I can take the subway and walk to get there.   I want to be at the Embassy at 8:30 tomorrow morning.    




  1. Hello from Boston where we had our first snowfall of about one inch!!! I depart tomorrow for Denver to be with my son, Russell and family as he is having his hip replacement surgery on Tuesday..18 months after the accident! Nothing but good thoughts!!

    I hope to be in CB for Christmas! Sending hugs to you and love reading about your special adventure!!


  2. Talie,

    I am so sorry you got ripped off. It is too bad that our affluiance has corrupted even the most distant culture.

    I want to wish you a Merry Christmas from all of us in Crested Butte. Ours will definately be a White one.


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