Puno is definitely worth visiting even if your early formative years weren’t defined by Beavis & Butthead, and trying to perfect the Butthead laugh despite being a fourteen year old girl, but it still was undeniably the impetus.
Also: definitely not warm, and my hostel either had no heat or hadn’t turned it on. There were plenty of blankets, so sleeping was fine, but just hanging around the common area was… not pleasant.
Having an actual coat might have helped.
SO, feel-good story time! After a nice eight-hour bus ride rumbling through the desert (it was actually cool, but still… long, and sick, and oxygenless), I hop off at the bus depot in Puno — which was totally not where I thought it was to begin with, so had to get a taxi to my hostel — and promptly left my cell phone in the back of the cab when I got out.
Odds of getting it back, like, ever? lol, glhf.
After a rousing panic attack, I finally go talk to the hostel reception to see if he had any ideas. He spoke almost no English, and my broken Spanish is not helped by intense stress, yet he was so helpful. I managed to convey what happened, more or less, and he called someone he knew who knew all the taxi drivers in town, and that dude came over to look at the outdoor security footage, figured out which driver it was, called that driver, and arranged to take me to meet him back at the bus terminal.
Which would have been super awesome had my phone actually been in the car, which it wasn’t. But it was still just, like… such a kind thing for all those guys to do — and no one asked me for money, despite being taxi drivers and obviously giving up fare to cart my dumb ass around. (Which of course I gave them some, because I’m not an asshole, but they didn’t even hint at it.)
Meanwhile, I’d managed to get in touch with my mother via FaceTime on my iPad, and she’d been — hopelessly — calling my phone from back in the US, on the off chance someone picked up.
Lo and behold — an American traveler and his Peruvian girlfriend had caught the same cab after me, and found my phone; apparently he was going to turn it into the bus station lost & found, and his girlfriend was like, maybe just hold onto it for a little bit. Turned out he was staying at a hostel a ten-minute walk from me — wandered over — had my dumb phone back in my dumb hands within maybe three hours all told. After leaving it in a taxi cab, in the middle of fucking Peru.
side note: I was about to add something like, “which god knows is unlikely to happen in America, for fuck’s sake,” … but actually, shortly after I got back to the US, I somehow left that same cell phone in the parking lot of the shitty shopping mall here in Daytona. Which, again, odds of getting it back?
Well, I’d barely even noticed I wasn’t sure when I’d put it when my mother gets a text from my brother — some girl had found it in the parking lot, found my brother’s contact info (I don’t know or care if she’d managed to unlock it, or if he’d texted my phone or something), found him on Facebook and let him know she had it. Half an hour later, she and her boyfriend drove like 25 minutes back to give it back to me.
Moral of the story, like, people really, truly, are not generally dicks.
Anyway, I think I only spent maybe two nights in Puno, and if I had (a) stayed longer, (b) was not so tightly-budgeted, and/or (c) not been hanging out in I think the highest altitude place I visited, I wish I’d gone on at least like a half day tour of the islands on Lake Titicaca. But, well, all those things were things. Quito was rough enough on my ability to breathe, and Puno is almost three thousand feet higher (about 1,000 meters, for the rest of you who don’t use idiot measurements like us).
So I just walked around town, went to a really cool little marketplace, and walked around the shore of the lake. Not the most exciting few days (phone panic aside), but really, really cool to see.
Unfortunately, my nostalgic attempts to recreate Beavis did not really go so well. Which I suppose is an understandable outcome of (a) being too shy to ask someone to take a picture of me, y’know, recreating Beavis, and also (b) not actually being a 1990s cartoon character.
But I tried. Ish.
It’s okay. Travel Gator was not impressed either.