Arequipa - Colca Canyon

Trip Start Apr 12, 2008
Trip End Jul 20, 2008

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Left Arequipa (Alt. 2500m) feeling seedy, no appetite, passed thru 4500m and on arrival at Corporaque  near Chivay(Alt. 3800m), at the hotel for the night,  guess who was the ONLY one to need oxygen!  Symptoms you donīt  want to know about, but when I passed out, had everyone running!  Seems our so-called "travel doctor" stuffed it up & gave us far too few Altitude pills to manage the amount of towns at high altitude. And she's the "expert". 
Hotel Mama Yacchi is an eco-resort  and just beautiful.  From there we went into Chivay for meals, traditional music, dance & song and up to Colca Canyon to see the condors.  Their 3 metre wing span makes our eagles look like budgies!  They performed beautifully, swooping and turning right above us. The canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, so cop that USA!  Michael and some others rode mountain bikes 22 kms back down the mountain road.
The hot thermal baths in the moonlight were quite healing.
The people of these mountain villages seem industrious and content, though the whole region is dependent on the money tourism brings.  One Nuevo Sol (39c) buys a bottle of water, a snack and is a decent tip!
Local guides are brought in for each section of the trip and mandatory 'tips' are collected eg 5 sol per person, so for the 2 of us, $4 - cheap!
Wilfredo, Jorge, Suzi, Ricardo & Krisna have been well worth it for the fountain of knowledge they espouse (in broken English).  Our main guide Julio and apprentice Manuel are muy guapo (very gorgeous) and very caring too!
Life happens here just as you see it on postcards and documentaries, everyone in big-brimmed high or flat-topped hats, mimicking ancestor skull shapes, women in full long skirts, many layered with shawls and everything carried in diagonal back-slings, including babies and children, who by the way are big brown-eyed and gorgeous too!  You would love the fashion, Jessica!   Harvest maize, corn or market goods for sale are carried doubling women up under the load.
One of the guides and the blokes from the bus helped a small boy push his huge cart out of a wheel rut to the market site just now.
The long bus rides from place to place only showcase the amazing scenery from snow-capped mountains, farmed ancient Incan terraces,  smoking volcanoes, arid plateaux, rocky stonescapes and everywhere dotted with piled stone "sculptures" - offerings to the gods.  And of course the llamas and alpacas grazing by the roadside.
PS Michael just ducked out and orderd cafe con leche, arriba arriba (takeaway)!  And when they asked if he wanted azucar, he said si gracias.   Hes learning fast!
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