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    South by South America Tour – Peru Part 1

    Saturday, October 12, 2019
    Copacabana, Bolivia to Puno, Peru

    Getting my passport stamped out of Bolivia in the border town of Kasani.
    Getting my passport stamped out of Bolivia in the border town of Kasani.

    Check out time at the Hotel Utama is 10:30 am, so I paid my bill and trundled out the door with my big backpack and messenger bag a couple of blocks down to Plaza Sucre in Copacabana. There, I jumped into a packed mini-van bound for a small village called Kasani a few minutes away on the border with Peru. After a short wait in line at immigration, I got my passport stamped out of Bolivia. I was stoked I didn’t get charged an exit fee.

    A Catholic church and an arch in Kasani at the border between Bolivia and Peru.
    A Catholic church and an arch in Kasani at the border between Bolivia and Peru.

    Welcome to Peru.
    Welcome to Peru.

    Next, I walked by a bright orange Catholic church and through an arch, then into Peru’s immigration office. The clerk just looked me up on her computer for a minute or two, stamped my passport and sent me on my way. Although she took a photo of me, there was no fingerprint scanning, luggage x-rays or inspections, or anything else. I was super stoked. I wish entering all countries was that easy.

    The immigration office near Yunguyo, Peru.
    The immigration office near Yunguyo, Peru.

    Following that, I changed my Bolivianos into Peruvian soles at a pretty steep rate at a money changer, then jumped into a tuk-tuk with a local lady and got shuttled a mile down to a town called Yunguyo, where I stopped at a shady spot on the street to eat a big, green apple I had saved. Then I hung out with a trio of street musicians in front of a little shop. After they played a few nice tunes on guitar and drums, I flowed them a few soles and they seemed stoked. They asked how long I was going to hang around, but I said unfortunately I had to leave.

    A street musician jams in Yunguyo, Peru.
    A street musician jams in Yunguyo, Peru.

    Street musicians jam in Yunguyo, Peru.
    Street musicians jam in Yunguyo, Peru.

    So, they got a young guy who drove a bicycle taxi to give me a ride a few blocks down to a corner where mini-vans pick up passengers bound for a town called Puno. The kid pulled all the way up to a curb with the front of the cart where I was sitting jutting over the sidewalk right where people were standing in line for the vans. It felt pretty funny. After I got out, I was confused about which van to get on, because none of them had destination signs in the front window.

    A bicycle taxi driver lifts a load in Yunguyo, Peru.
    A bicycle taxi driver lifts a load in Yunguyo, Peru.

    A short while later, I asked one driver if he was gong to Puno. He said yes, but for some reason he never reached for my backpack when he was loading luggage up on top. It seemed like he was unconcerned if I went or not. I was a little bit confused about what was going on. A few minutes later, that van left. Then a couple of more vans filled up quickly and also left. At that point, I caught on to the boarding method and stood a little ways into the street by the curb to make sure I would make it into the next van.

    A Sur Andino van in Puno, Peru.
    A Sur Andino van in Puno, Peru.

    Here's lookin' at you, kid. Puno, Peru.
    Here’s lookin’ at you, kid. Puno, Peru.

    Of course, no more vans showed up for a really long time. I’m talking like close to an hour. As I stood out in the blazing sun (fortunately with a wide brim hat and sunblock on), a big crowd gathered on the sidewalk behind me. Still no vans. Finally, one pulled up on the cross street to the right, not directly in front of us, which caused a bunch of people to stampede over to it and push and shove their way in. I also tried to force my way in, but some people squeezed by me.

    Layered and torn flyers in Puno, Peru.
    Layered and torn flyers in Puno, Peru.

    I noticed a couple of empty seats. One was in the back, but some lady was saving it for her husband. The front bench had a few things laying on it, so I shoved a bit of it aside and sat down. Then one of those rotund ladies who wears a traditional outfit that includes a bowler’s hat and long braids got mad and yelled at me to move, so I was back out on the street again. I was super pissed because I had been waiting on the street way before any of those people showed up.

    A view through the Arco Deustua in Puno, Peru.
    A view through the Arco Deustua in Puno, Peru.

    A carving of a dragon on a wall in Puno, Peru.
    A carving of a dragon on a wall in Puno, Peru.

    As I walked away, I cursed them out loud, but they didn’t hear me, and no one else standing around even batted an eyelash. Fed up with that ugly scene, I walked back to the center of town to see if I could catch a van to Puno there. A bunch of vans were sitting around empty with no drivers. Then a guy who was hanging out on the street with his drinking buddies tried to help me. I asked him if there was a big bus terminal in town, but he said no and basically motioned for me to go back to where I came from. Luckily, when I returned to the corner for vans to Puno, there was one sitting there with a couple of open seats, so I gave my backpack to the guy on top and jumped in.

    A carving of a pan pipes player on a wall in Puno, Peru.
    A carving of a pan pipes player on a wall in Puno, Peru.

    After we pulled out of Yunguyo, we cruised by some farmlands, through a few small towns and occasionally next to Lake Titicaca, finally entering Puno around 2.5 hours later. After some confusion about which of Puno’s two bus terminals I was at, a nice guy on the street set me off in the right direction to the Olimpo Inn, a sparkling clean hotel with only 10 rooms and a really nice staff in a legit, non-touristy part of town. After checking in, I went for a walk around the center of town, which included the usual tourist trap walking street. At least I found some interesting street scenes to shoot photos of in the surrounding area, not to mention a nice arch at the top of a small hill nearby.

    Words and photos ©2019 Arcane Candy.

    One response to “South by South America Tour – Peru Part 1”

    1. Larry Balma says:

      Gerry
      Sounds like an adventure for sure. Great photos.
      I received another open immediately from Allstate.
      I opened, called and pd one month.
      Let me know if there is anything else I should do.
      Enjoy, Larry

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