Volcanoes and Condors

Trip Start Sep 19, 2005
Trip End Mar 19, 2006

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Friday, February 3, 2006

Copacabana and Arequipa

Another age since I last wrote - really shouldn't leave it so long next time as I am starting to forget where I have been!

Anyway, it was great to see some water in Lake Titicaca, I worked out I hadn't seen the sea or a lake since mid november when I whizzed past in on the bus in Chile!

Copacabana on the edge of the lake is even higher than La Paz, but thankfully it is pretty tiny so there aren't as many minibuses and old dodgy buses spewing diesel fumes all over the place! Walking uphill was still a bit of a struggle and when we went on a pedalo on the lake, I was completely exhausted!!

In order to get to Copacabana we (still with Tom and Emma) took a rubbish bus from La Paz. It was raining inside the bus too and of course my seat was broken..... Such luck! The fun part was getting off the bus and hopping onto a tiny boat to take us over a stretch of the lake (a short cut instead of going round). Then you see your bus loaded on to what basically looks like a raft and floated across the water!

We got a room and bummed about for a bit in the rain in the town, which sells all the usual tourist tat but is actually quite a nice little place with a lovely setting on the lake. Then we found a cafe that has marmite (WOW!) and decent coffee (SO sick of icky nescafe powder) so we spent quite a while in there!!

A it was tipping down the next morning, I didn't make it onto the Isla del Sol on the lake, and by the time it cleared up to beautifull sunshine later in the day, the urge to go there had gone and a pedalo sufficed (and was probably more fun!) The next day we jumped on a bus for a loooong journey to Arequipa in Peru. Of course with lots of faffing about at the border (thanks, random Brazilians!) we missed our connecting bus and arrived pretty late. Still, eventually we made it, having been trodden on by several large Peruvians determined to squash me on the bus.

Arequipa is a really nice town surrounded by volcanoes and with lots of nice looking buildings and colonial architecture. I think we spent 5 days there in a nice hostel with resident parrots and dogs, although I can't really tell you what we got up to - lots of sitting around drinking Pisco sours and coffee, which was nice to have some normalcy. We did manage to visit a huge monastery which was quite interesting and pretty with nice courtyards. We discovered the guinea pig pen there which is seemingly used to breed the nuns' dinners (guinea pig is a bit of a speciality here). Anyway the sight of the cute little things running about quite happily soon put me off any vague inclinations I had had to try the dish!

We also visited a museum which houses the frozen remains of a young girl sacrificed by the Incas on top of a nearby mountain - she had been frozen until a volcano nearby became active again in the 90s and was discovered, along with quite a few other examples of offerings made to the mountain gods. The mummy we saw was called Sarita, which is a dimunitive of Sarah which is quite odd!

One of the meals we had in Arequipa was slightly odd but fun - it was in a touristy place on the main square which served only Inca food. Everything was cooked on hot stones and you had to eat with your fingers and a wooden spoon: Quite a challenge trying to cut an alpaca steak which is definitley nicer than the llama I have had! It was all served up by the chef who looked like Elvis and spent quite some time trying to convince us that everything in the world (eg language, Jason and the Argonauts etc) came from the Arequipa area!

We also spent a day in the Colca Canyon, a couple of hours away from Arequipa. Its twice as deep as the grand Canyon in the US and very beautiful. We saw some condors and stayed in a place with a donkey tethered outside the window, then headed back to Arequipa for a night before an overnight tip to Nasca. More of which next as this is going to be a bit of a double entry as I haven't written for so long!
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