Peru is not what we thought it would be, in almost every way. Although it's a Catholic country, they're not at all prudish. (I don't mean that Catholics are prudes, but it is a very religious country.) Everywhere we've been, we see couples kissing, holding hands and holding each other. Nancy said it's most common now for people to live together before they marry, and most families have 1 or 2 children, so they must be using birth control.
I miss it. It's got such a wonderful feeling to it, and the people were so incredibly kind to us. Today we had lunch on a balcony overlooking the plaza before we left for the airport. Sandra, the woman who picked us up at the airport, accompanied us back to the airport and hugged us goodbye.
The flight was only 30 minutes long to Juliaca, over mountains. Juliaca was also much more charming than the guidebooks suggested, and the plains between Juliaca and Puno reminded me of the Tibetan plateau, or Mongolia. (Of course I've never been to either place, but it had that feeling because of the strangeness of the light. You really do feel like you're on top of the world.) As you drive through the altoplano you see mountaintops on the horizon, and it's easy to shift your head a little to imagine that they're just tips of huge mountains instead of the whole mountain in the distance. In the plains are these very low adobe houses, all dark brown with low pitched brown roofs. People drive small herds of cattle. It was a thoroughly remarkable landscape. When we pulled into Puno, we were surprised that it's much bigger than we expected.
And OK, here is the final amazing piece for the day. Our hotel is absolutely amazing. It's right on Lake Titicaca, and our room overlooks the lake. It's sumptuous, so comfortable. The lobby has a beautiful fireplace, with lots of comfortable chairs in small groups, and people are actually sitting there, reading and talking. There is a deck overlooking the lake, but it's too cold to eat out there now. And the restaurant is so charming, with a great menu AND it's not expensive.
view from our bedroom
So far, this vacation has been absolutely perfect. I thought our Vietnam vacation was the pinnacle, and thought maybe it was so perfect largely because we were in the early stages of our relationship and that made things extra special (which it did, of course). But this vacation is even more amazing than that one. It's true that if anything, we are much closer now than we were even then, but this place is just amazing. I know I keep using that word, but it really is. Marc and I travel well together, and he put together a perfect trip.