Day 14 — Heading Out of Puno

Thursday — April 16

After another good night’s rest, we were ready to tackle our sightseeing/travel day. Overnight showers had left everything looking fresh. The early morning temperature was crisp, putting a bounce in our step as we hastened to the dining room for one last breakfast at Casa Andina. Afterwards, we took a brief stroll to the hotel’s floating totora reed dock. There were a variety of birds and waterfowl looking for breakfast in the marsh waters. It would have been nice to do some bird watching, but time was not on our side.

"Alma — Cocina Viva" where we enjoyed good food during our stay.

Lake Titicaca boat tours organized through the hotel leave from this private dock.

Vidal arrived as we were checking out of the hotel. When he asked us for permission to have Veronica tag along, we agreed wholeheartedly — an opportunity for “on-the-job training” for our budding tour guide.

With the bags loaded into the van, we headed out of Puno, but not without making a quick stop at the Mirador Puma Huta first. Loosely translated, the name of the overlook means “the viewpoint the puma came to” — remember Percy’s translation of Titicaca: “where the puma came to drink.” Fittingly, the first thing we saw was a huge stone puma looking out over the lake. Next came the gaping maw of a snake — another sacred symbol of the Inca.

A puma, one of the sacred symbols of the Inca, stands watch over Lake Titicaca.

Mui’s been swallowed alive by the giant snake at the mirador.

We put aside the oddity of the giant stone creatures and enjoyed the view of Lake Titicaca on what was quickly becoming an overcast morning.

An “I visited Lake Titicaca” photo op from the mirador.

Panoramic view of the world’s highest navigable lake.

While we were enjoying the views, Vidal had disappeared from sight. He was apparently getting permission to visit the school next door — a little surprise for us. The kids were lined up at the railing outside their classroom, prepared to sing a song for us. We enjoyed the short, impromptu performance and gave them a standing ovation. Vidal, who had already distributed pencils to the kids, then gave each child a sheet of stickers as a thank you for a job well done. When we left, the kids were grinning from ear to ear.

The kids prepare to sing a song for us.

The kids are rewarded for their performance.

We would have spent more time at the overlook and the school, but we had one more stop to make before we needed to get started on the drive to Juliaca — it just wouldn’t do to miss our flight.

Next Up: Day 14 — The Chullpas of Sillustani

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