Day 1: Festival de Candelaria in Puno. Why go?

Two factors coincided this week to prompt me to make my first big excursion from Cusco in months: a friend is headed to Puno for the Festival de la Virgen de la Candelaria, a massive folkloric celebration (paying homage to, yes, the Virgin) with 9 days of dancing, and general partying in the Andean style.
This isn’t ideal timing for me, so I was a little stressed about leaving town at first. Until I remembered that I’m in a different hemisphere to see as much of this amazing place and to experience as much of its culture as possible: how could I really question taking a trip through the Andes to Lake Titicaca for one of the most unique cultural fiestas in Peru? So this morning I started my day by learning a little bit more about the bus options in Peru by visiting the Terminal Terrestre – where you can get a bus to pretty much anywhere in Peru. If you want a cheaper transportation option for Lima, Arequipa, Nazca – you name it – this is where you need to start your journey.
I was pleasantly surprised by the relative ease of taking a taxi to the Terminal and buying my 35 sole ticket from San Luis bus line within a few minutes. And, the bus has seats that recline and at least a toilet…I’m sure it’s not pretty, but it is an 8 hour bus ride. Bonus!
I leave tomorrow at 8AM. And so begins my first big adventure on public transportation, and my first massive Peruvian street party!