Published: May 8th 2012May 7th 2012
I am writing this entry sat almost alone in the worlds deepest canyon, the Colca. Valley, high in the Andres at 3500 meters. Snow capped mountains and volcanos in the distance. lush green valley wall and far below me a river of which I can just here its sound. Above me two Condors are circling, catching the thermals created by the sun and the valley. Thirty minutes ago there were over 200 tourists here.but they have now left and it's just me and the magnificent, butt ugly Condors. Oh and Peruvian women selling their wares, and they don't count.So what made me get out of my pit at the unholy hour of 2.45am following a great barbecue the night before? Condors and apparently lots of them.
So, the Colca valley lies north of Arequipa and there are tours to the valley. We decide on the two day tour. I need to be in Cusco for Tuesday and it was, for me, not do-able. I have not planned it at all and was considering a
night bus but walking along a street saw flights advertised to Cusco.£80 one way. So an 11 hour night bus ride and no Condors, or a 55min flight and Condors. Will only pass this way once.Bought the ticket.
We finally got back to the hostel and asked to book the two day tour the following day. Unfortunately it was completely full. "You can go by public bus" said the hostel owner. Get the 11.30 morning bus.Sounds good. Save money and more independant fun.There are five of us in the dorm. Rich the lumberjack ( still ok) sister Stacey. Carmen, me and now Lukis, a 26yr old social worker
from Wisconsin. All of us our up for the trip.So Sunday morning we needed to be 'up and at em' quite early so we wandered into town, found a bar for a quiet drink, bumped into others we knew from Arica and partied until 6am.!!
We were all a mess when the alarm went off at 9.30, a few hours later. A quick shower and then five of us squeezed into the smallest taxi ever to get to the bus terminal.Sadly the bus was full and there was not another all day. Not ideal.There were however 5 seats left on the 3.30am bus the following morning so went for that instead.We agreed to return to the hostel and spend a quiet night in so that we would be up at the unholy hour of
2.30am to make sure we got the bus this time.That was until the word barbecue was mentioned. As it was our last night all together, having been with Rich and Stacey for two weeks, seemed a great idea.BBQ was a roaring success and others from the hostel joined in. Finally got into bed at midnight!But we were all ready to go at 2.45 am and a sleepy team travelled by public bus to the Mirador de Condor.
All animals have a routine, and Condors are no exception. They fly about between 8am and 10am. Tourist companies also have a routine and so when we arrived by public bus at just after 9am it was not so much Mirador de Condor as Mirador de punters. There must have been over 150 people on the mirador. It was packed.<br style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgba(255, 255,
255, 0.917969);" />But the condors had clearly been waiting for us for as soon as we arrived, four condors drifted over our heads, like some sort of fly by. Huge birds with enormous wingspan just above our heads. One could almost reach out and touch them. They buzzed around the gigantic canyon until as predicted 10am. The engines of the tourist transits were started and within 20 minutes all that was left was the five of us. If we had booked the two day tour we would have been on the bus too.
The others were staying the night in a nearby village with hot springs but I had to get back. So we bade our farewells on top of the mountain, in the sunshine having achieved what we set out to do and see some Condors.And then there was me. I had two hours to wait for the bus to come back so settled down for a kip. And then the condors came back out. Lying on the floor they were circling
right above me. Knowing they only eat carrion I moved every now and again and I waved at them occasionally just to make sure I did not end up as Condor food..
And then a stroke of luck. A small red car came into the car park with it turns out Peter, a retired Naval commander, and his wife Isobel. They are touring Peru in a rental and were late because they locked the keys in their car this morning. So the three of us watched the Condors, without the hoards of tourists for over 20 minutes until the thermals took them further down the valley and out of sight.They kindly offered me a lift back to the main village where I could get an earlier bus and get something to eat. On the way just marvelled at the stunning beauty of the canyon and valley. the steps on the sides dating back pre-inca days.
Now south American food
outlets are not known for their speedy service. You sit down and wait. And wait. And wait and then eventually someone will bring over a menu. They wander off. You try and decipher what they have to offer and then wait. And wait. And wait. Eventually someone will come over and take your order. You ask for a beer aswell. And then you wait. And wait. And wait. Eventually someone will bring your food and you remind them you ordered a beer. Eating out in South America is a slow painful process.
I arrive at the bus terminal at 1pm and bid farewell and thanks to Peter and Isobel.
My bus is at 2pm, and hour later. Normally enough time to eat some food and have a beer but this being South America unlikely, and as this is the last bus of the day i cannot miss it.
I find a pub come food emporium in the village 10 minutes from the terminal.<br style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: normal; background-color:
in case you don't see one
they have put this up in the village
rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.917969);" />Time to whip the South Americans into shape if I am to eat drink and make the bus."Hola" I said to the man hiding in the kitchen. I was the only customer. "abierto?""si""ok, Tengo un bus a dos. Quiero una cerveza y una bocadillo rapido. Es possible?"(I have a bus at 2. I want a beer and sandwich quickly. Is that possible?)A look of horror in his eyes. This is not normal. Normally it would take over an hour to arrange this, even though I am the only person I the place.He shouts out and a woman appears. More shock horror on her face when it dawns on her what is expected. A beer and a sandwich in less than 30 minutes?And so, just like the condors were gracefully flapping around the canyon hours earlier, so now the waitress and cook were flapping around in the kitchen of the bar trying to arrange this massive order. Chicken ham and fried egg sandwich with a small beer.As I smoked a cigarette I could here then talking in the kitchen. The signs were not good . Then rushing out of the kitchen came the cook. She wanted to see who it was who had the audacity to make her prepare a sandwich fast. She looked at me then rushed back inside,Five minutes later the waitress came with my sandwich.
" y the cerveza? " I enquired.
Nice to see that even under pressure they still forget to bring over the rest of the order.
I mean who would have thought it? A man wants a beer in a pub.
South America baby.
ps Made the bus in good time and packed ready for Cuzco and the Inca trail.