Thursday, 6 June 2013

Head in the clouds

Day 5 - 3 de junio - Colca Canyon

Another great day under my belt! Just sitting in my hotel room now, packing it in early since we wake up at 5:30. The room has no wifi in here so who knows when you'll be reading this. Anyway, we started today waking up at a comfortable 8:30am. With a hotel breakfast, we decided to take one last walk in the arequipan streets that we had grown so fond of in only one day. We visited probably the last starbucks we'd find in peru (today we were leaving the big city) then made our way back to the hotel to check out. We got on the coach (to my dislike, it was not a VW today) and headed out. Btw, for the curious (if any) the major VWs of Peru are the Amarok (very nice truck) the crossfox and the polo (which is named Gol here), and the old style bugs and they are literally everywhere. Sorry, i kind of like to point them out when i travel. Anyway, we soon began our drive from arequipa, but first, a very special stop. Our guide took us to the store to buy a natural remedy for altitude sickness (and everything else apparently) - Coca leaves. Yes these are the same coca leaves found in coca cola and cocaine, however their hallucinogenic properties are wiped out here by drying the leaves. So no, i'm not on a stoner trip through south america, lol. We learned the traditional way to chew them where you wet them in your mouth then put it in your cheek and suck the juice. It was neat, it actually made your mouth numb! The tour guide said that the taste might have most of us spitting it out real fast, however it didn't faze me at all (mom's tested much worse herbal stuff on me). As we left the city, we were given some perspective on a much poorer part of town than we were staying. We drove through neighbourhoods with every house being either unfinished or about the size of my bedroom! The tour guide said that these people work on such a limited income that every month, they may have enough to build one wall of their house, that's why so many were incomplete. Make me glad to know that i'll be making a difference, at least in Ecuador. After the city limits were behind us, we entered the vast mountainous desert that we flew over the day before. Before long we were driving through a vicuña reserve and spotted a good few on the side of the road. Of course we saw a lot of their cousins too - llamas and alpacas but vicuñas are the only one of the three that arent domesticated. Anyway, we continued on higher and higher into the mountains. It began to get colder and colder and stupid me forgot to put my sweater in my daypack. Of course i was in the tshirt and shorts that worked well for Arequipa weather. But you can be proud of me, Canadians, i held out pretty well the whole day. We were given boxed lunches today and made a stop at a little shop and cafe in the absolute middle of nowhere. We were served tea of coca leaves which made us doubly prepared for the highest point of the colca canyon drive. We stopped at the top view point and got out onto a frigid mountaintop (relate my experience to skiing whistler mountain in tshirt and shorts). We were close to 5000 meters above sea level, and even a run to the outhouse took your breath away. The area was filled with what was a type of peruvian inucshuc (i know i spelt that wrong). Apparently if you made on, you got a wish from their Incan mountain god or something. I think everyone was to cold to even consider making one tho. We continued on into colca valley and came across a little village where we bought popcorn and drinks for tonight. Then we had a bit of fun. Jumped into these little rickshaw type things that took us to a nearby hot springs. The water was phenomenal and warmed my cold self to the bone. Even when i got out (by this time it was night and prob around 0 degrees, my tshirt and shorts were all i needed to keep warm. It was a great feeling. We finished the night with an amazing buffet dinner at our little lodge in the mountains and a hangout with the group by a fireplace. Like i said, i wont be up late tonight, i have an early start tomorrow. And to finish things off, Amanda was a little annoyed with me for posting the goofy picture of her showing off our last room. So for your viewing pleasure, i have a goofy picture today of me showing off our new room - enjoy!

Heading out of the city

Chewing on the coca leaves

Vicuñas in the distance

The middle of nowhere for lunch

4910m above sea level

Welcome to coca

The rickshaw

Me and our room

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