Here are some fun facts about the new country we moved to :
Language – Spanish, Quechua and Aymara
Currency – Nuevo Sol (PEN)
National drink: Pisco Sour
Number of varieties of potato: more than 3.000
We reached the border city Puno only to find out it was the folkloric capital of Peru! This meant that every day there was a different celebration! Right on the first night we were there, we saw a group of teenagers dancing in the streets, which seemed quite spontaneous but we learned later on it was a school celebration.
It was a rather ordinary city other than that.
What is unusual about Puno is that it is set on the other side of the Titicaca lake! Therefore a must-visit is the Uros islands,! These are artificial floating islands made out of totora reeds, a plant that grows on the lake. About 2000 Uru people live nowadays in these islands.
The community that lives in the islands once spoke an Uru language, but it is long forgotten along with their religion. Urus still keep some traditions though and live a simple life.
We were impressed by the dimension of the islands. They were not only large but also quite numerous. On our visit we were welcomed by one of the island's 'chief'. He explained how they used the totora reeds like a net to make the platforms that served as base to the island and how they needed to replace them for new ones when they started to rot.
The largest islands had also a watchtower, probably a remainder from the first purpose of the islands!
Cusco was much more beautiful than Puno, even the street signs were gorgeous. It was full of little intricate streets that climb the city, it reminded us of Bairro Alto in Lisbon! These neighborhoods were actually born from the Inca constructions and although most of that is buried or destroyed, these places kept traces from the Inca urbanism. You can still see some original Inca construction that is now included in part of colonial buildings. We were impressed by the quality of construction of Incas, specially their masonry.
This get us to the famous stone of twelve angles. Now incorporated in the Archbishop Palace built by the Spanish, this is one of the best examples of the Inca's fine quality of construction. This kind of structure has an excellent seismic behavior. The cellular polygonal shape of the masonry blocks, built with no mortar, allows them to have significant movement in case of an earthquake, without each block loosing contact with each other. João, as a structural engineer, was amazed! The Archbishop Palace as a Spanish building was also interesting and we were surprised of how rich was inside: it was full of fine religious art pieces.
It was also in Cusco that we ate the best in Peru! We tried some awesome 'Ceviche' (raw fish in lemon sauce) and some 'Aji de Gallina' which is also famous - and delicious!