Escape • Explore • Enjoy

While the bodies still can and we still have our marbles!

Category: Arequipa

It’s Better To See Something Once Than To Hear About It A Thousand Times

On our fridge back in New Zealand, we usually have a picture of our next adventure affixed to the door.

Like a visualization thingy.

It inspires our dream it – design it – do it, philosophy of life.  And motivates us to ensure we focus on magnetizing towards making the picture of the adventure, a reality.

An image of Machu Picchu is currently affixed to the fridge door.

Another philosophy of ours is to always have the next adventure on the radar before we step off the plane and therefore, Machu Picchu will come off and another image will go up, when we arrive back home in the next few days.

We also have another image that has graced our fridge for a number of years with the quote: “It’s better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.”  The quote just resonates.

More so today when we saw it came out on the plate like butterfly chicken – a term used when you cut the chicken in half and split it open to resemble a butterfly.

Except, it wasn’t chicken but a local delicacy Cuy.  We knew it as Guinea Pig and you knew it was, the head and feet were still attached!

It was a crispy brown colour from having been deep fried.  A tomato and red onion salad with a hint of dressing and, two deep fried potatoes accompanied the menu meal.  Not sure about the teeth showing and thank goodness that you couldn’t see any eyes, they were battered over.
But once you got over the paws and head, it was quite delicious.  A bit like chicken, perhaps.

The traditional Peruvian dish Cuy … or Guinea Pig

It was our last full day in Arequipa and we knew we had to try the traditional Peruvian dish that we had heard about, a thousand times.

It was something different to end this adventure on.

We have taken heaps of photos as a return ticket to the moments experienced, that will otherwise be gone.  The blog scripted adds value to remind us of the emotional feelings we sensed.  To propel us to keep going … to escape, explore and, enjoy.

This is the last blog post from Peru.

A special thanks to all those who have followed, liked or made comments. It’s been a blast.

Until the next adventure … keep well and live purposefully.

The Rurus

 

Colca Canyon – The Flight of the Condors

Our pick up time was anywhere between 2.45 and 3.00 am.

We were also changing hostels on our return therefore, it was a 2am get up, showered, dressed and pack in readiness.  We were the first pick up by the mini-coach and was fortunate to get the seats right behind the driver.  By the time we exited Arequipa bound for Chivay, the van was full with different nationalities – Polish; Russian; Welsh; and Italian.

Everyone dozed, except the driver.  Other tour company’s shared the road at this hour too, all heading for the same destination.  It’s was a 3.5 hour drive and as the dawn broke to gain traction, the terrain was that as if we were on the moon – undulating and baron.  Not ugly but a funky attractive.

It was the first time that we had seen an active volcano in the distance bellowing cloud to form a haze on the horizon.  Stopping at a viewing point, it was still below zero because we had ascended to just under 5,000 metres.  Arequipa lies at 2,330 metres.

We have never seen an active volcano before.

Could be the moon landscape.

A sharper view of the Volcano smoking.

As we browed over another extinct volcano rim, we got our first glimpse of Colca Valley, the deepest gorge on the planet – twice as deep as the Grand Canyon.  At the very bottom slicing a path, the Colca River and, one of the sources of the Amazon.  The valley and its summits attracts adventurists whether it be hiking, mountain climbing, river rafting, or mountain biking.  We too left our scream after the reason we had made the journey to it.

To experience a viewing of the Condors.

Colca Valley, the deepest on the planet.

We still had some ways to lose height; pay the entrance permit fee and stop off at Yanque, one of the Colonial-era villages dating back to the 16 century, for the all included breakfast.  Communities here are pre-Inca descendants and still preserve ancient customs and distinctive traditional dress.  Solar heating systems on roof tops certainly a modern day improvement.

As we steadily climbed some more to where we again disembarked the coach, we were joining the hordes of others at the Cruz del Condor.  The man-made terraces far below made the landscape have a ripple effect.  It wasn’t too long, and then there they were, gracefully flying the thermals of Colca Valley.

The valley of the ripples.

They are the second largest bird in the world, to the New Zealand Albatross to give you an indication of their wing span.  They hugged the cliff soaring without as much of a flap, criss-crossing backwards and forwards.  For the numbers of people sharing the experience, there was bugger all volume coming from the crowd.  Only when a couple flew close over head did everyone in unison mutter the ‘owwwwwww’ sound.

The show went on for a good fifty or so minutes before the earth had warmed enough to have them climb higher up into the sky, making the photo opportunity more technical with our point and shoot.  Didn’t phase us, we were just happy to have watched them do their thing.  We got our bang for our 2am rise and shine.

The flight of the Condors.

Re-tracing back down the mountain, the next stop was some hot pools to have a soak before lunch and then our return ride home.  The question was posed by the tour guide, “Anyone up to try zip lining across the valley?”  Total zip line distance, 1,050 metres.

As the shackle was hooked onto the line, the go-pro was activated.  There was no count down, just a push and then the “whaaaaaahooooooeeeeeee.”  It was an adrenalin rush.  Claire followed after some encouraging motivation by the tour guide when she went to get back into the coach deciding not too.  The expression on her face when she pulled up after crossing the openness was priceless.  She had enjoyed it more than she thought she would.

The 2nd part of the Zip Line and Thermal hot pools below.

During 1995, on Peru’s second highest peak Mount Ampato (6,310m), a sacrificed Inca maiden, known to the world as Juanita, was discovered frozen – mummified.  It was one of the most important archaeological finds of the last few decades in the Americas.  You can google her story.

But don’t just google the Condors.  Come and experience them in the flesh.

A sacrifice out of anyone’s life agenda worth taking.

Whilst the bodies still can and, we still have our marbles.

The long road driven.

Arequipa – The White City

A southern city, Arequipa is the second largest city in Peru.

It was founded in 1540 and has retained an historical heart constructed almost entirely of sillar (a porou, white volcanic stone), which gives the city it’s distinctive nickname “the white city.”  Backdrop to the city, in full view, are three volcanic peaks with heights around 6,000 meters.  It must be cold up there as they are partially snowcapped yet, Arequipa enjoys perfect weather most of the year round, having on average 300 days of sunshine, huge blue skies and low humidity.  Global warming and ozone deterioration have had some impact because they used to be snowcapped all year-round; nowadays, only for three or four months of the year.

Notwithstanding, have you ever arrived somewhere and had a gut instinct that a place is somewhere you could spend a heap of time at, versus always being on the road?

Well, Arequipa did it for us.  As we ventured down to the Plaza de Armas (city centre), the architecture and design of the fronts of all types of buildings were incredibly charming and gorgeous.  Pressing the button on the camera was feverish.  When we entered the centre itself, OMG, it was a canvas of aesthetic gracefulness.

The Cathedral, Plaza de Armas.

Plaza de Armas

Plaza de Armas – towards the Cathedral.

The Cathedral looking towards the volcano mountains backdrop.

Plaza de Armas

People everywhere, just meandering around or sitting relaxed.  Giant palms and trees in purple flowers.  The fountain was spurting water; kids played around it’s edges.  The odd tout was blending in but a whistle from the tourist police ushered them along so as not to hassle.

That’s been a great difference here in Peru, touts don’t aggressively get in your face like they do on other parts of the globe.  There are beggars, generally the older generation and again, they don’t cause you any harm.  You don’t see as many dogs roaming neither, perhaps further out might be a different scene.

Sad …

The atmosphere was lovely; it felt right.  Apart from a day trip to see the Condors, we secured accommodation so as to spend the remainder of our time in Peru, living and breathing Arequipa.

Some down time just relaxing where a daily walk using a different route each time, is as equally rewarding as sitting in a lounge chair beside a pool or beach.  Claire has been able to still do her bookkeeping role servicing her customers whilst traveling.  Technology has improved somewhat since she did the same across Canada and the hours spent on such hasn’t interrupted our adventure at all.  In-fact, when you love what you do and do what you love, play-work-play can go hand in hand.  Besides, as long as wifi is compatible (and it has been here), look at her office.  She has pioneered mobile bookkeeping by doing it.

Claire doing mobile bookkeeping.

It has also been an opportunity to catch up on the blog posts and pics.  A lot of content cut and pasted for which I sometimes think has been too much information overload.  Only a couple more posts to do and then I too can swing into illustrating from the images captured.

Arequipa, put it on your bucket list to visit, should you venture in this direction.

For us, there is one more item on our list to tick off during our last days here.  Or should I write menu.

That being to eat rodent. Or commonly called Cuy, or as we know it, guinea pig!

Photo and blog post pending …

Assassination Attempt; 17 Hours Overland Bus Ride; Freeloading Ticks!

We had wondered why Cesar had a limp and put it down to his age and body weariness

However, Cesar shared with us how to be campaigning in an election comes with risks.  Back in 2016 when he was standing for a seat during another election, he was targeted by a couple of fella’s who shot him, splintering his femur bone in his left leg.  Cesar showed us the x-rays where the bullet was and where the new rod is.

Holy crap.  I remember making the joke when we were driving down a dirt road going to the rally that this is just like a scene where bullets start riddling the car!  Then Cesar pointed to a hole in their lounge window that we hadn’t seen before.  It was from a bullet during the same assassination attempt!

The bullet hole shadow in Cesar and Salvit’s lounge window.

We slouched down in their car as they took us to and dropped us off at the bus depot.

All jokes aside, lovely people and an airbnb experience worth staying at.  Just wait till after the elections in October!

We knew we were in for a long haul to our next destination.  Estimated time of arrival, 17 hours.

The bus departure chaos was similar to the one we experienced in Cusco.  As the bus pulled out of Puerto Maldonado, it was very different from the bus company used from Cusco, there was no food nor blanket.  Damn, I’d warn shorts for this one and we only had a packet of Lays chips and packet of Ritz biscuits.

Lake Sandoval was only 200 metres above sea level.  The curvy road traveled, elevated to over 2,000 metres.  After the lip-sync movie ended, we managed to doze for half a dozen hours.  A slight headache from the altitude; there were various stops along the route – some got off; some got on.  Some knew how to flush the on-board toilet; some didn’t.  We had to disembark at one staged check point to walk twenty meters.   Otherwise, it had been a long time since we had endured a monotonous distance like the one we endured.

Even though we were on the pan-American highway, our advice for this type of overland travel, try to break the trip into two shorter parts.  Or, fly.

And that is what decided to do from our final destination this adventure, making the decision after we arrived into Arequipa.  Fly the next bits.

But all soap box speak aside, the landscape during daylight hours had vastly changed from lushness to desert like baroness.  Wild Alpaca’s and Llama’s freely roamed the openness.  Bumps of extinct volcanic mountains rose up to form an unbelievable snow-capped backdrop behind the city.  And that was spread out as far as the eye could see.

Overlooking a lake on the road between Puerto Maldonado and Arequipa.

Landscape between Puerto Maldonado and Arequipa.

Volcano country.

It was a short taxi ride to our hostel and what does one do after checking in?  Take shower to freshen up and feel younger again!

It was then that the free-loader was discovered, having latched on in the jungle.  Yep, a tick.  Having a had a party of a time.

It was important to only panic a small bit so as not to have the head space play too many mind games.  Lyme’s disease did feature in the thoughts after I had pulled the thing off and wondered if I’d left the head of the thing buried under the skin.

We visited reception to get some instructions about seeking medical advice and the great thing about some hostels, is that they can have a doctor come to the location.  One did.  At first, thinking it was a mosquito bite, but when we showed the little bugger who now lived in a small zip-lock bag; good old google helped with it’s identification.

Brent’s Tick!

Fortunately, she prescribed a ‘doxycycline’ prescription (the same medicine used for malaria) that we already carried.  One was swallowed as she assured us that the risk of Lyme’s was 99.5% a possible no.  What does one do but just take the med’s, disinfectant the area and then, be optimistic that all will be well and that it couldn’t possible get worse!

For which it kind of did.

After a nights sleep and the early morning reaching over for a cuddle, we discovered another freeloader on Claire.  Having fed off the side of a boob, this one was four times larger than my one.  Pfft, of course she had to have a bigger one!

Again, it was pulled, disinfectant applied and the same course of tablets for the next five days.  It too now shares the same plastic zip-lock bag cell.

Claire’s Tick had to be bigger!

We remember Alex sharing how he hasn’t had a tick before, but has had episodes with moth larvae.  During the rainy season, if you try to dry your clothes exposed outdoors, there is a moth that lays an egg on the material.  When you wear your clothes, the hatched larvae can piece your skin and then live and feed off you just under it.  They grow, are painful and the only way to extricate them is to suffocate them with tape so that when they pop their head out, they can be removed.

Huh, if we had an option, we would have happily just had the 17 hour bus ride one.

And no type of freeloaders!  Certainly hoping no moth larvae, that’s for sure!