After our impressive stay on one of the floating reed islands of Lake Titicaca, we return to the city of Puno and stay there for another two days, as apparently Sara caught a bad fish on the lake. Then we set off over the mountains to our next destination. Unfortunately, Sara can’t handle the height at all. She is constantly dizzy. We would like to go to Cusco and see the beautiful city there and of course the Inca sites, such as Macchu Pichu.
But for this we have to go to the eastern side of the Andes and then back to the western side, each time we have to cross the almost 5000 meter high plateau, the altiplano. We are forced to decide to leave the mountains. After all, the car also has to struggle with the altitude and constant overheating.
Nevertheless, we have to overcome the height again, since Lake Titicaca with its 3400 meters is in a “sink” and we first have to climb the mountains again to get down to the coast on the other side. We leave Puno and it goes steadily uphill. The landscape is barren. There is no vegetation except hard brown grass. Surprisingly, the mountains are rolling hills and you can look out over a vast, almost flat landscape.
We don’t have the impression of being at an altitude of 4500 meters.
I’d like to share my enthusiasm for the beauty of the landscape with Sara, but she lies half unconscious next to the sleeping Leon, oblivious to the flamingos that flock in large numbers in the shallow lakes near the highest mountain passes.
I’m trying to hurry, but the engine keeps overheating and I have to take breaks, which cost us time. At lunchtime Leon wakes up and I cook for him while Sara tries to keep him happy in the twilight state.
The landscape is not completely empty. We keep passing through small towns and I wonder who lives here and why. We also see many alpacas, llamas and vicuñas.
Unfortunately, the journey continues at this altitude for some time and only shortly before our destination Arequipa does it go steeply down the mountain. The brutal Peruvian traffic has intensified, trucks thundering down switchbacks and overtaking as if they were sports cars. The sun is already low and blinding. If the country weren’t already ocher in all its variants, the sun would now bathe it in gold.
We come into a control between the district of Puno and Arequipa. But instead of drugs, weapons or alcohol, the officers are after fruit. They search our car and steal half of our fruit. We protest and refer to Leon.
But it doesn’t help, even the baby’s sad eyes don’t help. They take away the pomegranates, mangoes, apples, oranges, plums and avocados. We can keep the bananas. We are stunned.
From afar we can already see the high volcanoes that surround Arequipa, the Misti volcano at 5822 meters and the Chachani mountain at 6057 meters. The mountains rise like titans.
We set up camp for the night outside the city of Arequipa in the small health resort of Yura. There is a thermal bath there and nobody cares that we are staying in the parking lot and staying the night.
We are very tired after the tiring day and the scenic but tiring drive. There are also many dogs here, to Leon’s amusement.
I go to the restaurant across the street with Leon in my arms and ask for dinner. Since the thermal baths are already closed and the only potential guests have already gone home, the kitchen is also cold.
But when I am back at the car with Leon, a lady from the restaurant comes running to us with a bag full of roasted and still warm meat, which apparently was still there and we can have for free. It’s a heartfelt gesture.
In the morning we get a dirt cheap breakfast there. Then we drive slowly down the mountain in the constantly overheating car to Arequipa, where we will stay for two weeks.