May 17, 2002 - Arrival in Puno

We landed in Juliaca around 4:45. The baggage claim had all kinds of dolls in Peruvian dress, and there were various native costumes on display throughout the airport. A Peruvian band was playing (Inkamaru), and we bought a CD from them. Drivers were circulating in the baggage claim area looking for their passengers. Noone seemed to have our name, so we went outside. There were some drivers waiting there. We were very excited to meet our new guide, Vidal. We saw a driver holding a placard that said "Vidal". We asked if he might be looking for us as well but he didn't know. We spoke to one nice girl who spoke English and noone seemed to know what had happened to Vidal. She found us a driver who would take us the 45 minute ride from Juliaca to the Q'ElQatani Hotel in Puno. We got into the van hoping we were doing the right thing. This was the first time we had to negotiate such a transfer on our own. It got dark on the ride. We reached the hotel, and we wondered if we should pay the driver, but he left before we got a chance, so I guess not. We checked in and told the woman at the desk that Vidal was not with us. She was surprised and called Milagros, the trip coordinator in Lima. They gave us coca tea and we sat in the lobby. Not five minutes later, a young woman came in and told us that she would pick us up at 8:15 the next morning. We explained that Vidal hadn't arrived. She asked if we wanted to be taken to the docks by tricycle or bus. We didn't know if we were supposed to make this decision ourselves, but in Vidal's absence, we chose tricycles. The woman worked for a third party company called Edgar Adventures which coordinates the Titicaca trips. She recommended a restaurant around the corner for dinner. We went there (Hero's) because it was close by. Craig got a meaty alpaca steak, fried potatoes, beans, carrots, and cauliflour. I got spaguetti bolognese which was kind of salty and didn't have a lot of sauce. I enjoyed it, though. Craig got two Cusquenas (grande) and I got two orange Crushes. The place was nice but touristy, with only one other couple there (also American). After dinner we had a nice chat with them: Chip and Marie from Colorado. We went back to the hotel. Still no word on Vidal, so all we know is to be ready at 8:15 in the morning. Inkamaru band in the Juliaca airport

Dolls in native Peruvian dress, Juliaca airport

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