One of the last things I saw in Puno was a shoelace salesman carrying his wares around his neck.

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As we turned our backs to Bolivia we were again impressed with the beauty of the puna and the range of environments that we crossed. In two days we went from a high of 4400 m to sea level, passing snow capped mountains, the highest navigable lake in the world, the puna grasslands, utterly arid desert and gorgeous waves crashing on the coast. What a place you are, Peru!

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From Puno to Arequipa we saw flocks and flocks of alpaca. It seems to be lambing season, tiny white baby alpaca were postcard cute, trailing around after their mothers or prostrate on the grass resting. There were vicuna, lots of caracara and other birds, high hills in the puna that looked like they were covered with greenish velvet, really tufts of grass. There are flat sea green mosses that spread out in irregular circles, too, looking like they were poured on the ground. It’s a wonderful if difficult environment, with farmsteads spread across the base of the hills. The walk to school must really be 10 miles, uphill both ways.

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The Saturday market we visited was in Imata, drawn by a huge pile of sheep fleeces and alpaca fleeces..

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Details 1/24: Rain overnight until about 8 am. The sun came out, we left the hotel at 9 am and had no trouble finding our way out of town, even the turnoff for the shorter route. Start mileage 167395. We arrived in Arequipa about 2:30 pm. Total for the day was.

We ate Jonathan’s birthday dinner at the Camaroncito, but with the menu from the adjoining Casona del Virrey. It doesn’t matter which menu you order from, as they are both owned by the same group. The food was excellent, deep fried pork ribs, with potatoes, green beans/carrots; I had osso buco that came with sautéed red pepper, onion and zucchini and pasta with green olives. JH started with the quinoa soup that was creamy but contained no milk products. We came back to the hotel to eat dessert, the complimentary birthday cake, chocolate with coffee/chocolate fudge filling/frosting. The hotel delivered it to our door shortly after we checked in. Very thoughtful to notice the date from his passport.
This hotel, Los Tambos Arequipa, has the best service I’ve ever had. The cake, the help in finding a mechanic who would make a house call, directions, general cheerfulness. I’ve never seen greater willingness of staff to find out information of any kind for a guest. Cost s/. 210 per night. Current exchange rate is just over s/. 3=US$1

Details 1/25: Left Arequipa at 9 am. Weather 21 C. Made our way out of Arequipa within 15 minutes, and that’s saying something, not one U-turn required. Stopped to change drivers twice, and arrived in Nazca at 5 pm. It took 2 hours less going downhill (to Nazca) than uphill (to Arequipa).

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Hotel Nazca Lines gave us the rate we found on booking.com (US$68), exactly what we paid last time. This despite being quoted $140 per night on the phone, and $85 on arrival. They have great towel sculpture. Our first visit is to the right. Our second visit, below. Despite the elephants, we enjoyed our stay less this time, it took 3 tries before they gave us a new remote for the A/C. It just needed new batteries, but the guy was sure it didn’t, until it died and the A/C wouldn’t go on after dinner. Our patio hadn’t been cleaned lately, so anything you set down on the tiled bench came up with a layer of dust. I used a towel to clear an area to set laundry to dry, then the towel was red-brown with dirt. Also turns out that the floor wasn’t cleaned out there either and we had to brush red-brown footprints off the sheets when I came in and put my feet up. We ate in, this time, also a mistake. The pisco sours didn’t have enough ice, though they weren’t strong at all. The pasta with chicken and garlic included no chicken. This was pointed out when the check came and the waiter offered to add some chicken….. This is a great place to stay if you are going to swim and eat dinner in town.

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