Trip Start Sep 07, 2011
Trip End Dec 22, 2011

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Flag of Peru  , Arequipa,
Sunday, October 30, 2011

The setting sure was a million dollar view but our hotel for the night is at best rustic.  I realize that when mules and horses are the only way into a village, we are not going to find a Hilton, and all things considered my adobe hut with dirt floor made for some peaceful sleeping.  Two hours of sleep the night before and a tough hike down left me where I could have slept on the dirt floor at that point and the sound of the river lulled me right into a deep sleep.  San Juan del Chuccho where we crashed is the last village with electricity and all others down the road are powered with sun by day and candles at night.   Odd it is to sleep in a mudhut with a power switch in the adobe wall and a naked lightbulb hanging from a roof made of something organic.

A light breakfast of two pancakes and a communal bowl of coca leaves for that morning jolt got us started on day two of pure pleasure deep inside Mother Earth.   And no, for the record I did not sample the coca leaves or even the factory made coca tea lining this bowl that would probably get me 20 years to life back home.   Peruvians in this part of the world munch on the leaves to combat the effects of altitude, but I think I taking my chances without the aid of coca is the safest path in these parts.   Grocery stores carry coca tea much as we would buy Lipton tea bags though I am not sure where the donkey parcel service makes his deliveries of these in this village.  

By 9am we were underway without the benefit of coca for our 4 hour hike along the bottom of the canyon.   Some steep climbs and descents reminded all of us that the canyon is boss, and I just thoroughly enjoyed this scenery deep in my new playground.   The river and underground water sources actually keep the bottom of Colca relatively green and fertile for subsistence agriculture and the viewing pleasure for those of us who dare take more than a day trip here.  

One last steep foot killing descent gave us an eye popping view of Sangalle which is known as the Oasis.   Lush green grass, palm trees and even swimming pools dotted the canyon just beyond a couple of waterfalls.  Keep in mind Sangalle is electricity free so swimming pools aside, this village is basic at best.  We spent the night at "Paraiso" and my two cabin crew friends and I enjoyed an afternoon of lounging around.  

The two day hike finishes up here around dinner time with a 5am departure the next morning, so overtired hikers never fully unwind by the springfed pool or laze around in a hammock under a tree whose needles smell like citrusy pine when broken in half.   My room may have been in another dirt floor adobe hut but I enjoyed views that would go for hundreds of dollars at some resort like the Westin La Paloma in Tucson.   Actually, Colca Canyon is far more impressive, and the free aromatherapy in a hammock while listening to the river priceless.

A lack of electricity means no way to keep to alpaca fresh so mercifully the meals are free of cute fuzzy animal meats.   Spaghetti, Knorr soup packages and anything else nonperishable a mule who lost life's lottery can schlep a mile down into the canyon make up the food choices here.   Interestingly enough the four hoofed delivery vehicles bring in giant bottles of beer and we enjoyed the jumbo 650ml size as the sun went down and besides our campfire, the entire "resort" turned to pitch black nothing.  Of course I had no flashlight and had to rely on a candle about 10 minutes from its expiration to see anything inside my adobe walls.

The fact that people survive down here so far from removed from what we consider the real world just amazes me.   Any live contact with the outside besides cell phone comes at the price of a long hike or muleride up to the rim of the canyon.   I am actually enjoying the bliss of no internet, no news, no cellphone, no texting, no email, no nothing.   Being disconnected is a little scary at first, but trust me, you get the hang of it quickly.

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