Phew we´ve gotten pretty out of date and after that last mammoth post I´m gonna try and skim some of the details…
Soooo a couple of weeks ago I took a 4 day tour of the Cotohuasi Canyon near Arequipa that we´d booked a couple of months ago. Unfortunately Dave had a tummy bug thing so he coudn´t come, so I had to brave it alone! It ended up being just me, a couple from america, and the guide and driver. It was pretty cool still though, the canyon wasn´t so much of a canyon as a really deep valley but it was still pretty amazing and I saw ALL of the cacti against deep blue skies, muy bonito. We got to say in a fancy pants ranch-like hotel for the first night in the town of Cotohuasi, and the owner Liz decided to come along with us which was great coz she was just lovely! She reminded me a bit of a posh cantabrian woman with pearl earings and turned up collars. She only spoke spanish so it gave me a chance to brush off the cobwebs on my conversational spanish and she very patiently corrected me everytime I spoke haha. We ended up hanging out together as the group ended up splitting when it came to the hiking into the canyon, and she became my guide, pointing out different tracks and plants, and after learning I was gluten-free, gave me lots of tips on yummy things to make with quinoa, and even commanded Surgio (the driver who hiked with us) to climb up a Guayaba tree and pick us some yummy fruit haha. We camped in the valley on the second night and me and Liz were roomys, she got to take daves place in the tent. We ate the most amazing food, even when we were tenting they cooked us steak with cheesey quinoa rissoto (Liz requested that she make it specially). In the morning we got up early and our guide Salomil made us quinoa pancakes, by the way, I love quinoa. Liz and I hiked back out with the sun draining into the valley, so lovely. Liz grew up in a wee villiage just outside of Cotohuasi town, and we got to walk through it and a few other tiny town which you can only get to on foot. They were pretty run down but very beautiful still, and since I was in charge of the camera I took ALL OF THE PHOTOS IN THE WORLD. We passed fields of quinoa and kiwicha (like quinoa but smaller) and saw people harvesting it. After a soak in the hot pools we headed back to the hotel for the last night, and a beautiful dinner. Liz had gone out and bought pan de maiz (bread made of corn) for me, and also the ingredients for pisco sours, the national drink of Peru, and gave us a lesson in making them. On the drive back to Arequipa we stopped at some petroglyphs out in the middle of the desert that the andean people a couple hundred years BC had carved into the rocks – lots of llamas and shaman and human sacrifice. So yea, pretty sweet trip but I was also stoked to see Dave at the end : )
Back in Arequipa (which is a beautiful town also) we had a grand time just wandering (something we do well) and visited a massive old convent where nuns used to party. Now there´s only 30 left there, but it´s like a mini walled city within the city.
ok daves turn
After Arequipa we headed to Cuzco the incan capital. This palce is pretty legit and every day we were there we saw a celebration of some kind or another. No lies every day. It was awse we saw indigenous people dancing and parading in the streets in full traditional costumes complete with dead baby llamas and all. After we soaked up the festive mood it was time to do the infamous Inca Trail. Now one could spend ages describing this once in a life time event but in respect to the boredom of others I will try and be brief.
On the first day we had to get up early at 4 in the morning to meet our tour group. This time is a blur as 4 in the morning isnt a real time, merly a fictional zone in which mythical people wander and the rest of us are oblivious. Anywho we bused from Cuzco to Ollyantatambo and to the start of the inca trail. This place was padamonium as they only let in 200 people each day and it was gringo central. That day we walked 11 ks through lovely andean vallys and saw wonderful vistas of massive incan ruins. The people on the trek were lovely and we made some great new friends. We arrived at our first camp delighted at the first day and even more delighted to find our tents all set up and a delicous meal being prepared for us. No kidding the food was dope we havn´t eaten this good in the whole time we have been travelling. I was almost at the point of gaining weight whilst trekking which was rad. The next day was a challenging day indeed; we had to climb a pass of 4200 meters and had to make 1000 meters hight from our first camp. The views were breathtaking and we were all elated when we reached the pass. As pride comes before the fall so does ellation before despair at the decent (de ja vu?) but we made it down in one peice to yet another feast. The third day was spectacular and our awesome guide led us through an incan coca ceremony on top of dead woman´s pass. we were all so privaleged to be a part of this as Percy our guide was very passionate about incan culture and many other groups were not so lucky to have such great guides. We walkd for 15 ks that day and saw 2 great sets of incan ruins. This day was my favorite. We arrived after dark to our final camp site and ate like kings befor retiring to bed. On the final day we woke up at 4 for the final push to Macchu Picchu. This was some kind of crazy social experiment to say the least. The gates to the final bit of track up to the sun gate dont open till 5.30 so our tour group along with 200 other people waited in nervous anticipation. At 5.30 we were off and nothing was off limits. I was supprised at my competitiveness and came close to pushing the slowest humblest tourest off the track if it meant that I was one person ahead when we got to the sun gate0. It was all in good fun though and no one died that I knew of. Arriving at the sungate we got our first veiw of Macchu Picchu in the valley below. It was spectacular! From there we walked down to the site itself and explored it with a wonderful guided tour preformed bu Percy and Ernesto our guides. We were shattered and longed for hot pools and beer. Macchu Picchu was the icing on the cake of a wonderful trip. People seem to gloss over just how hard the inca trail is an I am determined not to do this. It was painful brilliant and made it even more special arriving at Macchu Picchu after a long hard 4 days.
In all, our tour party consisted of 16 trekkers (all of whom where awse and we made some real good friends, nothing forms bonds like being in the trenches) 2 guides – Percy and Ernesto who where amazing, 1 cook who deserved at least on michalen star, and 20 porters – these guys are machines carrying extreme loads always with a smile, they even gave us a round of applause each time we reached camp which was nice however somewhat undeserved as they did most of the work.
We´ve done some things