Monday, April 29, 2013

The Colca Canyon


Colca canyon

Another item on our Peru hit parade was going to the Colca Canyon to hike (yet again) and see the massive condors in all their glory. So, we do what any good travelers do, we booked an overnight bus to Arequipa, the jumping off point for the canyon. (More on the bus ride and other South American transport later.)

We arrive in Arequipa, the white city, at a bleary 6am, which is obviously everyone's finest hour after an all night bus ride. We stumble around Plaza de Aramas till something was open and booked a hostel, where we promptly all collapsed in our beds and slept for a solid 3h, roosters andSaturday morning construction be damned!

After slightly more sleep we head out in town. This is going to sound stupid, but I pictured Arequipa as this cute little white stone town. I, ah, may have overlooked the part where they said it was the second biggest city in Peru. Told you I was being stupid. So, imagine my surprise when I arrive into this massive city. I liked Arequipa and would certainly recommend it, but I much prefer places like Cusco, where everything is walkable and doesn't feel quite so overwhelming. 

We wander around the Plaza for a bit, pricing out canyon tours. Sweet Jesus, why must everything start between 3-4 AM??? I mean, is 8AM asking too much? Apparently so, because alllllll the Colca Canyon tours picked you up at 330AM. Wahhhhhh. Fine. 330AM it is, just don't ask me to like it. 

We stumble on the bus the next morning and are immediately handed old fleece Hello Kitty blankets. Um, ok? Forty five minutes later I am trying, in vain, to wrap that blanket around me as much a  possible because it is fa-reeeeeezing on the bus. Brrr. We drive for a while and make a pit stop for a couple of the guys. At this point we're at 4700 meters, which is pretty high. A dude passed out! I look out the window and the driver and tour guide are trying to shake this guy awake. "Um, hey Ann. I think that guy is unconscious. Why, yes, indeed he his." Being the good nurses we are we stayed in the bus. Oh, don't look at me like that! What was I suppose to do? He wasn't a premmie, he didn't need an airway, and I had absolutely no drugs necessary on hand. The bus driver was clearly better equipped to handle this than little old me. The guy eventually came around and we continued on to town. He went to the hospital, the rest of the group to breakfast. 

Ok, so when I signed up for the tour I asked the salesman how steep was the climb. He LIED, lies I tell you, all lies!!! He said it was a gentle sloop down, easy, no problem. Have I mentioned LIES?? It was hot, we were trekking in the direct sun, and it was not gentle. The group finally stops at the bottom of the canyon for a break before the last uphill bit before lunch. I totally almost died in the last 20 minutes, I swear. I haven't had that much heat and sun so far and I definitely hadn't had enough water. We're talking all kinds of dehydration, nausea with light headedness. Totally fun. I came around a bend and this old lady was selling warm coke for 5 sols. And sold! Best.coke.of.my.life. I would have paid 15 sols for straight up sugar water at that point. That coke was magical, 2 sips later and I was a new person, a super hero ready to take on the world!  Or at least a person who could finish another 15 minutes of walking. 

Then next morning the group is suppose to meet at 5AM to bring our journey up out of the canyon. The other groups leave promptlyat 5AM. Our groups waits and waits...Um, guys, where is our guide??? By 530 it's getting light out and we are antsy to be on our way. So, we did what anyone would do, we left the tour guide. I have to say, that with all my travels, and all my various tours I have never, ever had a tour guide fail to show up. Let's chalk this up to yet another new experience! After about 20 minutes our guide decided to deem us with his presence. Apparently he had over slept. The French and Australians were all like oh, it's ok. Then there was the angry German girl who quickly pipes up "Actually, it's not ok, it is so very far from ok." I love when other people take the role of angry pissed off groupie. Saves me the trouble of having to do it. 

Between passing out dudes, over sleeping guides, and some intense downhill trekking it was another eventful outing in Peru. 

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