Note: Ryan has his own blog which has more photos and log posts. http://www.ryandecorso.us
Posted on February 24, 2013
I wrote this a few days back but posted the hat post instead. First of all, the tremendous amount of support was really unexpected–I truthfully didn’t know that people even read my blog until then. I’m starting to wonder if there’s a enough hats and materials in Puno to cope with the sudden demand. I bought a hat and pair of gloves yesterday, and I’m going to look for someone in town to buy the first real set of hats from today. I’ll get around to replying to everyone individually soon, we are all sharing one internet connection that’s fairl slow and unreliable.
Now, here’s the post about Puno from three days ago:
I’m going to try a different strategy, one where I write ten page to page-and-a-half blog posts instead of one ten page droning wall of text.
Day three in Puno, Peru. There’s still lightning, and the weather is perfect—40-50F at night, and low to mid 60s during the day alternating with light rain and sunlight. There’s five sheep outside the door in the corner of the bricked-in gas station. They live under a derelict 1960s pickup with a few pieces of once-galvanized steel leaned against the right side to keep out the rain, and during the day someone takes them to graze in a vacant lot between a pharmacy and an apartment building along the highway into the city.
I have to watch for frogs when I take my dog out for walks. They’re about two and a half to three inches in length, and are also probably toads and not frogs (I haven’t wanted to touch one to figure out, plus I’m not entirely sure they’re unvenomous). The amphibians are also incredibly slow and can’t move more than a few feet a minute, even when my dog’s trying to eat them.
Today, we went into town to walk around. I brought my hiking boots into the Central Mercado to have them fixed. I love my hiking boots, they’re a pair from LL Bean that cost $100 because I wanted shoes that wouldn’t break in six months. That didn’t make a difference in the end, because they ripped out by the time I made it to Ecuador. By the time I got to the Altiplano, the left shoe had a four inch hole in the side that filled with sand, and the right was slowly disintegrating. I was afraid I’d have to buy some sort of Bolivian Mining Boot, which, while it would have been cool, would also have been really uncomfortable. I took my shoes into the Mercado, and the cobbler couple told me that it would cost S/20 ($8) to repair the shoes, get the sand out and replace the sole-pads. I swapped into my sandals, realizing I hand put on a blue sock and a bleach-stained brown sock which were now highly visible. The cobblers did an incredible job, double stitching, glue, everything. Now they even fit better than before, which is a little baffling.
After the market we stopped in a bakery where I got a slice of bread pudding that I swear tasted like a Halls Mentholyptus cough drop.
We walked the ten blocks to the waterfront, along the way passing through several small street markets, some sort of marching band gearing up in street and a group of old Aymara women dancing with 600ml beers in the street to tinny music played out of a blown 500-watt Peavey speaker. I bought a small bag of bells from one of the stalls for my goat and presents. I think I’m going to go back and buy more since they were incredibly cheap and of a higher quality than what you’d find in Fairbanks. The waterfront was nice and more than a little surreal (sometimes it’s hard to connect “Oh, it’s Lake Titicaca with “I AM standing on the SHORE of LAKE TITICACA”). There’s a large artisan market down by the lake which we walked around for a couple of hours. Everything was incredibly well made and unbelievably cheap, but the real star of the market was the fifty-five gallon drums of sodium cyanide that served no purpose that I could tell. Most of them were partly full, and I meant to ask one of the vendors why exactly they were there, but I forgot.
I found a Chifa restaurant to eat dinner in. Chifa, is Peruvian-Chinese fusion that’s everywhere here. However, there’s almost no Chinese, and the food was the most Peruvian I’ve seen yet. My plate was stir-fried French fries and fried rice with hot dogs. We also got something labled the “Triple”, which contained all four Peruvian food groups: rice, pasta, french fries and hot dogs, all re-fried together in a wok.
After dinner we needed to buy groceries at the supermarket. As always, the music was turned up to the point where it was hard to hear other people, and it was blaring a combination of Latin electronica and eclectic English music. I remember a couple of disco tracks, Karmachameleon and Smooth Criminal clearly. They also seem to play “Staying Alive” almost every I’m in a store, and the Electronics department usually has “Gangnam Style” playing really loud out of a display-model stereo. Putumayo has it all wrong.