Happy Peruvian Independence Day! At 6 am, the Power bus reached the Puno bus terminal. The place was a hub of activity, with travellers heading to Bolivia, Cusco, Lima, or wherever their journeys took them. Our journey took us to a small village named Llachon which Youjia had highly recommended. In Puno, we headed to the central Plaza de Armas, but everything was closed. Mercado Bastillo was a few blocks away. There, we found a juice stand lady who gave us a cheap breakfast of thick slabs of strong cheese sandwiched in soft bread, with a glass of freshly blended fruit juice to gulp it all down. The two hour combi ride to Capachica was warm, crowded, and suitable for dozing off. I must have slept for at least an hour, waking up occasionally to find fellow passengers staring at my drool-crusted mouth. Upon reaching Capachica, we transferred to another combi heading to Llachon, half an hour away.
Llachon is a small town, with no spectacular museums or Inca ruins to boast of. It modestly rests on the peninsula, right next to Lake Titicaca. As the combi drove through the lone road in this town, I saw mud huts with hay roofs. Rows of tilled soil were found every few feet, proving that the hilly terrain hadn´t discouraged farming. We got off on the last stop and set out to look for a man named Valentin. He is the person who runs a few "hospidajes", or family-owned inns, in this area. Llachon´s attraction is in its peaceful balance with nature; tourists come here rarely, but when they do many families extend an invitation to their hospidajes. We saw one such hospidaje downhill from the road. It had a red roof, making it stand out from the other blue-gray roofed houses around it. I entered a stone arch to find two women peeling potatoes in the sun. For 25 soles a day (less than $10), each of us would get a bed, three meals a day, and a room only feet away from the white sands of Lake Titicaca. This was my dream coming true.
It turns out that this was one of Valentin´s little place. He found us just as we were settling in. The sunshine was abundant and a cool breeze plentiful. Lake Titicaca was a beautiful bold blue, rippling gently. A cacophony of baahs, yeeyaws, and moos filled the air from the sheep, donkey, and cattle in the vicinity. Otherwise, chirping birds ensured that I didn´t hear empty silence.
We took a walk on the shore of the lake. Sheep were running amok toward the water as cows galloped toward them. No one got hurt, but it was quite a scene. Only in Llachon could one see such a battle on a beach.
As night steadily descended, the women who ran the hospidaje lit a campfire. A few other tourists who were staying here surrounded the bright dancing flames along with us. Across the dark lake, a line of glittering city lights reminded me of the urbanity we had escaped from for these next few days. The moonlight and plethora of stars above seemed a lot closer than the show of electrical prowess in the horizon. Being is such calm is a different kind of thrill altogether. It fosters self-reflection and heightens sensory awareness. Neither photographs nor words can do justice to the beauty of Llachon. Amidsts the hiking and constant travelling from one city to another, I will remember Llachon as the town that gave me a chance to breathe.