Spent a day in Arequipa and started to figure out how I am going to close out my journey in Cusco. I booked an early AM flight from Cusco to Lima on my day to return to the US. That only means I am not spending more than 12 hours in Lima...just enough time to dip into town and have some ceviche. I also tried to hook up a multiple day rafting trip but I am going to need to head to Cusco to do that.
So I headed off to the second deepest canyon in the world for three days (second only to another in Peru). It was pretty amazing. The bus came to grab me at 3 AM and then we had a 4 hour bus ride that started by looking at the condors that are in the Colca Canyon. According to several bird enthusiasts, they were much larger than the California Condor. The wing span of these was 9 feet. Unfortunately I am not privy to one of those ridiculous cameras that takes amazing pictures, so I did what I could. After that, we got dropped off for the next two nights on a trek that only
covered about 40 kilometers but was mainly inclines and declines.
The first day was straight down for about 4 hours. Evenutally we hit a river crossing and soon after found our housing for the evening. The river water runs all the way to the pacific ocean and it is glacial runoff. The accomodations were very rustic, with thatched roofs and pretty subpar bedding. There was zero electricity and the food was cooked with a fire and eaten by candlelight. The stars were outrageous and bedtime came early.
The next day was an early start and I spoke with a Chinese girl in our group about the perception of the US in China so it was a pretty interesting conversation. The second days hike was a leisurely 4 hours and we wound up at some mineral water pools. The place we stayed in had dirt floors and quite a few scorpions but everyone survived. We had a pretty sweet campfire with a group of Italians and Brits. In fact the Irish guy commented on how out of 20 people there I was the only American...a theme that seems to be running consistent on this trip (except for the one´s
currently in the room where I am typing butchering Pink Floyd´s "Wish You Were Here"). The Italian´s were a lot of fun as were the Brits. The best was akwardness of the group with ten different nations represented and most trying to insist on singing nursery rhymes from their home countries. The song that goes something like "My bunny is over the ocean..." seems to have been a popular one in Germany in early 60´s because that dude just wouldn´t quit.
We started our climb this morning with a 900 meter climb from the floor of the Canyon to the rim. Typically it takes 3.5 hours but we hammered it out in about 2. It was work. Reminded me a bit of a Linville Gorge Trail I have done a time or two. At the top someone who was riding a mule got kicked by the mule when they were getting off...I guess the karma of not wanting to walk caught up with them. Finally we got some breakfast and drove through flocks and flocks of llama and alpaca.
Now I am back in Arequipa but after having spoken to some folks about Cusco and also remembering what
it is like to hike in groups of people of different abilities, I am trying to figure out a better way to enjoy Machu Picchu. I can´t take the waiting on folks who walk slow (yes I can be selfish but getting through the burn quickly is more my style). I guess that is just the downside of not traveling in groups of 6...but I can at least hope I wind up in a decent group for the Salkantay Trail. Who knows, perhaps I may not do another significant trail after some of my chats with folks that have done them.
While I am on a soapbox, please be aware when you are in public spaces. For many it is the chatter on cellphones that is way too loud, but to me public displays of affection are disgusting. Please do not engage in a conversation with someone while sitting beside your significant other and then start making out with them and ending the conversation. Licking the other person´s ear in front of ten people isn´t appealing to anyone. I am glad that people may have found their life long love but please don´t give them hickey´s when you are
riding on a bus with a lot of other people. It is polluting the public space. Quite frankly, it is foul and most everyone would appreciate you getting a room.
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