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October 22, 23, Puno, Peru

La Paz in the morning. The city, at an elevation of nearly 4000 metres, is nestled in a bowl in the mountains.






Another peaceful demonstration in the streets. We were very lucky not to have arrived a couple of weeks earlier, because at that time street protests had closed all access to the city. The issue here was the privatization of the water supply. A large percentage of the city dwellers couldn’t afford the high prices. 






Looking down on a central market from our hotel.








Our first glimpse of the famed Lake Titicaca, at nearly 4000 metres the highest lake in the world navigable to large vessels. Titicaca runs 190 kilometres in a northwest direction and is about 80 kilometres across at its widest point. We’ll see more of it shortly.





The main highway north to Cusco is paved, although virtually all the other highways look like this.






We reach the checkpoint for entry into Peru.







One of several stops for paperwork, part of the interminable border-crossing formalities.






But the border town was on the edge of the lake, so the view was a consolation.





Looking back at Bolivia. At the end of the year, Evo Morales, was elected with a resounding majority. He is the first indigenous president of a South American country, and represents the hopes of a poor and exploited country. 













Border taxis.





And carts.






The hotel on the shores of the Lake in Puno in Peru is modern and elegant. Stylistic representations of native culture decorate the walls in the dining room,





the breakfast room,




and the foyer.   










Various walls in the hotel sport this green sign with the large S, which says, “This area is safe in case of earthquake.” That’s good to know.







To the west, the hotel looks out on a small bay towards the town of Puno.







In early morning






At dusk.







And after the lights go on in the town.





October 23

A grey morning.







But it soon warms up.






















Below the mountains in the distance, in the green band, you see a line of small light-coloured buildings. The green band is an island, and the island is actually floating. There are 40 or so of them, and they are woven from layers of the totora reed, which grow at the edges of the lake. They are anchored by stakes and ropes to the bottom of the lake. They are home to several hundred indigenous Uros people who retreated onto the lake from the Incas, the dominant force in the region until the Spanish arrived.




















The boat is returning from a trip to one of the floating islands.








It was a magic place.