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Puno, Peru - September 2009It’s time to leave Arequipa. I’m getting used to this cheap and plentiful way of living and would really like a few more days to explore some more of these colonial exhibition of buildings.

It’s easy to forget why you travel when living a normal life but now I’m here and moving, remembering is so easy – exploration is an integral part of the human makeup and the more different the culture, the more it feeds the soul. I’m also reminded yet again how communication is never something to restrict life and despite my complete lack of any good Spanish vocabulary (outside of some basic keywords), I’ve been able to point, gesticulate and hack together similar words to get the message through. Unlike a lot of people I’ve seen on this trip, I don’t expect Peruvians to translate for me; I’m in Peru and work the language to their benefit, not mine.

After making the most of the fantastic fresh breakfast at the hotel and uploading a few more pics, it was time to check out and ask the guy at the front gate to hail a taxi.  15 minutes and 6 soles later through completely unfamiliar streets, we hit the bus terminal.

After checking in, it turned out we had to pay a departure tax of 1.5 soles per person but I’ve no idea why. There’s nothing mentioned on the website or tour guides about this, outside of departure tax for flights, so it’s lucky we had some change available.  The bus finally headed out, ten minutes late and with lack of internet this time.

It’s a slow climb out of Arequipa, into the mountains that catch the eye when in the center of town. Odd scenes scatter the start of the journey and I see a dead animal laying on its side in a field, with a local throwing rocks at it from a distance. Buildings started to get fewer and less developed within 30minutes and eventually passed into the distance, leaving only the occasional stone hut with straw roof at seemingly random points. It’s such extremely similar landscape to Arizona and New Mexico that you couldn’t tell the difference if there weren’t a few signs in Spanish.

There’s more ground wildlife here than I’ve seen so far, with Alpalcas plentiful, the odd group of sheep and the more rare sight of three Vicuña. It’s hard to photograph anything while moving, as the journey is bumpy and the animals are the same colour as the landscape. Hopefully there will be more chance to get up close and personal with some of these things later on, once we’ve stopped. I’ve also had the privelege to see a couple of Condor but nothing too close as yet. Perhaps the most unexpected sighting was of flamingos in a lake up here. Bearing in mind we’re at around 10,000ft, I didn’t think they were altitude dwellers.

The high elevation is starting to kick in a little. I did take a pill this morning to counter the effects but I was supposed to start 24hrs before and didn’t, due to the consumtion of alcohol last night. If it hasn’t already kicked in, I should feel the benefits before the end of the day. I have a lightness of breath, slight head pressure and tightness in the chest but otherwise well. Feet are cold and going occasionally numb but moving gets the circulation going. No headaches, dizziness or becoming distant yet – the fact that I can put together this blog means the brain is still functional.