Archive for September 23, 2012

Sunday Travel Tales

Puno is on the northwestern side of Lake Titicaca

Back to Peru this week, but not Cusco, at least not yet.


This small city is the hub for Peruvian tourism. Nearly every tourist passes through Puno on the way to somewhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re coming from Bolivia, going to Bolivia, coming from Cusco/Machu Picchu, going to Cusco, or if you’re coming from Arequipa or going there, or whether you are visiting the Uros (floating) or Taquile islands on Lake Titicaca. The tourist trail goes through Puno.

Most people don’t spend much time there, usually an overnight on arrival before onward plans, trains boats or buses. They don’t go to see Puno.

The centre of Puno is Jiron Lima, travel agencies, cambios (exchanges) restaurants and banks.

I spent five months there in 1999, I worked as a dog’s body for an agency. Sometimes as a guide out to Taquile Island which I knew from past trips very well, sometimes I simply collected tourists from their hotels and saw them off on their various transports.

When I wasn’t doing this, I was opening a restaurant. You see for all the tourists passing through Puno, there wasn’t one restaurant that offered them anything familiar except pizza, and it wasn’t very good pizza. The agency I worked for wanted a restaurant, mainly for their tourists, but that is another story, the politics of which were screwed up beyond recognition. I designed the restaurant, the bar and the kitchen and prepared the menu as a Peruvian/English parellel, and I named her.

The Lake Pub

I also carved the plaque for above the door. It started out as a 40kg slab of hardwood, geez was it hard wood, 100cm x 55cm and about 10cm thick.

The result was this…

The Lake Pub


The centre piece was an oil painting of Taquile Island sunset. I paint too… Sorry the photo is B&W, but I haven’t managed to recover a coloured version yet.

As I mentioned, the politics involved eventually meant that I quit the project and moved on to my next job. I heard the restaurant was changed to solely Peruvian and became ‘just’ another restaurant in Puno which failed after a few months.

Sad really, after all the work I did.

In the supermarket yesterday, I found this bottle of chardonnay.

Now it’s not often one finds an Australian wine in a Brazilian supermarket, especially one so remotely removed from anywhere chique like where I live, which is only a stone’s throw from the boondocks. You will find Argenine wine, Chilean wine, wine from Portugal and France and Italy; but to find one from ‘Down Under’ was a total surprise.

It was about then that my ‘Impulse Buying’ mode kicked in, especially when I realised that this bottle had traveled one width of the Tasman Sea further than me to get here. R$26 (about USD13) was a reasonable price, that was when my ‘Impulse Buying’ mode totally took control nearly singeing the label as it was launched from the shelf to my shopping trolly.

It now sits in my wine rack awaiting a suitable occasion when I should trot it out to impress the local yokels.

It’s probably not plonk, Australia does produce some good whites, better than my own New Zealand ones, but we do hold the upper hand with reds.

There is a shop in Barra da Tijuca that has New Zealand wine, but at R$106 for the cheapest bottle, it doesn’t trigger my ‘Impulse Buying’ mode in the same manner.; a bit like the Ballantynes 30 Year Old Whisky I found in the same shop for R$1,360… they stay on the shelf. I dream.

Cool again today and cloudy, and it’s time for a nap.


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