My husband and I visited Puno, Peru, in March to see Lake Titicaca, and at one point we decided that we wanted to spend a day exploring some of the small towns around the lake that most tourists skip. So we hired a wonderful guide and asked him to take us to his favorite off-the-beaten-path towns in the Lake Titicaca area. We explained that we really wanted to get a sense of what daily life was like for the people living at 12,000+ feet elevation around Lake Titicaca. He obliged and chose the towns of Lampas and Juli, about an hour outside Puno.
At one point, our generous guide asked if we wanted to visit his friend's house near Lampas for a truly up-close view of Peruvian daily life, and of course we jumped at the chance! This was our guide's friend, and he turned out to be the warmest, most hospitable person we met in Peru. He had a permanent smile on his face and his good mood was contagious. Although he and his family didn't necessarily have a lot of material wealth, they seemed to be some of the happiest people I've ever met. The man was especially proud of his llamas, this white one being his favorite one. I couldn't get over how he and his llama had matching smiles - they made a perfect pair! The day we spent in Lampas and Juli with our wonderful guide and his friend was the highlight of our visit to the Lake Titicaca area, an experience I won't soon forget.