July 20, Puno, Peru
Another cold, high altitude trip for today's ride from Arequipa to Puno, on Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world at 12,500 feet above sea level. I knew that Puno was high altitude but I sort of hoped that the day would be a gradual climb to that altitude; no such luck. From Arequipa the road very rapidly ascends from 7,800 feet to about 14,500 feet above sea level, the altitude where I spent most of my 200 mile day. It was cold and exhausting and I was very happy to quickly find a hotel in Puno with a hot shower.
Across the street from the hotel is a restaurant called "heros" that has guinea pig on the menu. The menu said it was a favorite meal of kings. I had alpaca the other night so I figured why not try it - maybe guinea pig tastes like cow too. But then it arrived, just laying there on the plate looking like deep fried road kill all sprawled out in front of me, face down, his egg sized head with a carrot in his mouth and each of his four legs reaching out to the edges of the plate. I tried to get a little bit of gamy tasting meat from the hind quarters, back strip and little legs but there wasn't much and I have to admit I wasn't trying very hard. Guinea pig has a flavor all it's own that I'll likely never taste again, not on purpose anyway, and it didn't make me feel one bit like a king.
I finally put together the last of the Atacama pictures: