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Published: June 18th 2011
Day 122 -124
We arrive bleary eyed in Arequipa and check in the hotel. Si and I decide to have a wander round Arequipa and have a nice walk round the town, taking in the mirador and after lunch we head to the convent. Despite it being more money than we thought we decide to go in, and it is lovely, full of beautiful courtyards, even though the seemingly 8 million bedrooms get a bit same, same after a while. We stop in a beautiful garden and share a pecan pie and coffee, before we bump into Marie’Katherine, Jonas and Daphne. Funny moment when Marie’Katherine (who is French Canadian) is explaining the difference between the language they use compared to the language used in France. The conversation in English is overheard by a rather uptight French person who proceeds to take great offence (for absolutely no reason) and shouts that French people also speak English and can understand before storming off in a comical fashion.
We have a very early start and have to be up to catch our bus to Colca Canyon. We are excited and nervous, and we buy some coca leaves to prepare ourselves. The journey
takes forever, but we make various stops to chew coca (it tastes like leaves and makes your mouth go numb), take photos of llamas and have a final stop at 5000 metres. The altitude is affecting everyone and Si and I feel sick, have headaches and feel generally rubbish. After a stop for lunch (which is another touristy restaurant and is only so-so) we head to the town we will be staying in for the night. The hotel is beautiful and the views from our window are incredible. The tour leader takes us for our first short hike up a hill to some ruins. As we walk through the town, we are surprised by several pigs running riot. It is particularly funny when two chase each other, squealing and drowning out the guide. After feeling breathless climbing a small hill, I do feel slightly worried about the Inca trail. A 10 year old girl and 5 year old boy show us some local produce on the way back and sing us a song (soooo cute). Then we head to the hot springs, which are lovely but are made slightly weird by the large group that are chanting and performing rebirths,
with one woman screaming out (we later learn that they are spiritualists – bunch of weirdos more like). We arrive back at the hotel and have to have dinner straight away before an early night.
Up early (boo) and we head out to the condor look-out. After 3 hours in the van, we arrive and do a very small walk to the lookout. Luckily we see loads of condors and at one point two fly by and one does a little look to the side to pose for photos! Unfortunately Si and I are incapable of capturing the condors on photo, as we argue over the camera, and Si ruins a perfect shot I am taking by grabbing it from my hands. (Si - I was just trying to point out that the camera needed to be turned on) The ‘hike’ is very short, and I feel relieved, as I can’t be bothered, but also worried that this is meant to be our acclimatisation for the Inca trail, and so think maybe we should be doing more... Then it is back in the van... for another couple of hours, before we stop at a restaurant and then back in
the van again to drive home. Si and I feel a bit peeved that we have spent so long in the uncomfortable van, but as both guides fall asleep the van driver adds some excitement by driving like an absolute nutter. Even Norman (ex Canadian Mountie) is worried, which makes me even more scared, and I am relieved when he wakes our tour leader to tell her to tell the driver to slow down. We arrive back in Arequipa exhausted (and in one piece)and we feel slightly disappointed that we spent so much time on bus and not enough time enjoying the canyon.
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