All and any good feelings towards this vacation have been erased now that I have fucking lost my Ray Bans. UGH. I lost them RIGHT before going on the trek too, which is the reason I brought them. So I wouldn’t have fucking sun in my eyes! Now I know that whenever there is sun in my eyes I am going to feel a little pissy and think how the fuck did I lose my beloved Ray Bans.
Well that’s my general mood right now. Actually, I also lost my wallet but thankfully the tour company found it on the bus. So that a stroke of good luck. As far as I could tell, they hadn’t taken anything and I should check to make sure they didn’t use my credit card for anything but I don’t think they did.
I guess my last post left off in the middle of Arequipa. After I posted that, we went out to look for dinner for Tanya’s bday. She had read about a good Italian place but we couldn’t find it so we looked up and down the restaurant and settled for another Italian restaurant. Arequipa is surprisingly cool for such a shady looking town. Whatever street we were on had some really cool looking restaurants. They looked pretty fancy inside and several of them had private courtyards. Our Italian place was really nice and the waiter was hilariously attentive. He would stand near our table and when we were looking at the beverage menu I was like I think if we look up he’ll come over so we all raised our heads and he practically ran over to us. At some point Caroline dropped her knife and he just ran over and handed her a new one. We ordered a caprese salad, sangria (pear and … peach I think?) and pizza. Not the most Peruvian food but the pizza had sweeter dough than American pizza so we claim it was Peruvian pizza. When the waiter delivered the caprese salad I was like … uh … and pointed at a live bug crawling around. I personally wouldn’t have really cared but the waiter let out this HUGE GASPPP and immediately rushed it away from us. In return we got free coca teas and free garlic bread! Totally worth it. So far I think that was my favorite restaurant experience.
We booked a Colca Canyon trip. Despite knowing the tour started at 8am and that it takes 4 hours to get from Arequipa to Colca Canyon, I don’t think it registered for any of us that we would be waking up at 3am. The tour description also made it sound like we would just be driving around from site to site. The main thing to see here is condors. I was like ummm this doesnt sound like we’ll be doing very much walking … but we were like eh whatevers. TOTALLY FUCKING WRONG OMG. NONE of us were prepared at all for what we were about to embark on.
Well our bus came to pick us up at 3am. So I had woken up around 2 40 after a pretty terrible night of sleep. The bus then went around Arequipa from hostel to hostel to pick up the rest of our tour group. It was actually pretty awesome to drive around Arequipa at the dead of night because there were no other cars and most of Arequipas streets are cobbled so the night lights give it a nice effect. I think we finally picked up everyone around 3:45 and then we were off. The tour gave us blankets and sleep pillows which I thought was pretty luxurious. And I WOULD have gone to sleep in the car but … that night was the beginning of my upset stomach. And by upset stomach I mean diarrhea! UGH. I thought I would have a strong stomach but I believe this Peru trip has only taught me how weak I am.
I wish I had taken pics of Colca Canyon in the dawn but I was half asleep and the windows were fogged up and I just did not want to move. Still sad though because it was really gorgeous. We got breakfast which was essentially … well future Irish friend said it best as cracker bread. I think that’s what all Peruvians eat for breakfast. Just bread. We continued onto condor view point. If you know me, I don’t really care about wildlife so I just stood around going OH LOOK. THERE. THERE. THERE probably several seconds too late for anyone to take a decent picture.
Then we got dropped off with our tour guide. Caroline, Tanya and me were put together with a group of three Irish girls. Really sad but the only person’s name I don’t know is the one person I actually specifically asked and asked how to spell it. I was completely unprepared for her Irish accented alphabet so it was a fail. The other two girls were Rebecca and Trina. I will make up the third name as Thanix. It’s supposed to be some French name, so I threw in a X.
At this point of the blog writing, I only have faintly fond memories of the Colca Canyon trek but I have very clearly written in my journal in the middle of the trip “this is my personal idea of hell” so clearly I did not love it for some part of the trip. Colca Canyon is a lot like Grand Canyon. Hot dusty and lots of cacti. These are essentially the three main things I hate in all of the universe.
So the trek is, first day: about six hours total of walking up and down and around this giant fucking canyon. I think there was a total of three ups and downs. One thing I also hate – senseless waste of effort. Why not just have ONE down. and then ONE up. They would have us go down … to get to a bridge … then back up … then back down for the bridge …. then back up. Good fucking god. Also, our tour guide seemed to think we were in a huge rush so I never had time to take pictuers. I only ever do things for the intent of taking pictures so to me all this walking was even more of a waste because there is barely any photographic evidence of my accomplishment! Another thing: we were staying over night in a hostel at the bottom of the canyon so we all had backpacks. So we were doing this hike with big backpacks and I have never hiked with so much weight before.
Ok. Well. An hour into the hike I had to whip out my ipod to sort of calm myself from continuously cursing myself and my situation of having paid 180 soles (about $70) just to put myself through a perfect mix of everything I could possibly hate in life. At the end of the day we reached the bottom of the canyon where our hostel was.
I actually didn’t mind our hostel much and I think it actually made me enjoy the experience more but … our hostel had no electricity or hot water. Which is to be expected because it’s at the bottom of this huge fucking canyon in the middle of Peru. One thing I wish they had informed us is that they would not provide us toilet paper. Well, we got to our place around 530 pm and I was fucking dusty and disgusting and you don’t even want to know how bad my socks smell. The water is basically heated by the sun, so I immediately went to shower because the water would only get colder. The showers had practically see through walls because they were made of bamboo sticks which had been kind of crappily placed together. Maybe they were going for a more authentic hut feeling. The water was freezing cold but I bit the bullet and just stuck my head in the water and after a while it actually felt bearable. The hostel itself actually does look like a little oasis. There’s a beautiful blue swimming pool surrounded by the canyon walls. So, pretty nice! It was already getting cold so I just went back to our room … which b y the way, was basically a stone hut with bamboo roof and windows.
Our dinner was served at 7pm by our guide, Lucia. Now during most of the hike, I had harbored a lot of builtup resentment towards Lucia. Particularly after the first few hours of our hellish downhill hike, when we were like “are we going fast enough?” obviously as a way to elicit some praise like “yes! you guys are doing so well!” Instead Lucia went “uh … ok.” and we were like WHAT. Not fast enough?! And she was like “um, maybe” and I had to clarify just to make sure “wait … you want us to go faster?!” and she said “yes, faster would be good” and we were all like OMFG IS THIS WOMAN CRAZY. But I guess when I am living in a hostel without any electricity and sitting in the dining hut with only a little burning candle for light, when a little Peruvian woman hands me a big bowl of soup and plate of rice and curry, I have nothing but fond feelings for her.
So we finished dinner around 730 and then we went back to our hut to wash up and sleep at … 8pm HAHA We were sooo exhausted I pretty much knocked out immediately. Before sleeping we looked up at the sky and there were SOOO many stars. As would be expected, as we were at the bottom of a canyon with no other light sources and far from much developed civilization. It was freezing cold though, so I did not continue to look at the sky for too long.
Well the next morning we woke up at 4:45am to begin our 5am hike. Basically for the next 3 hours we would be doing a completely uphill climb from the bottom of the canyon to the top. At first I thought we were doing wonderfully but I had mistakenly thought the flag was the endpoint, so when we passed the endpoint and I realized we had about another hour of uphill to go, my spirit was broken. The first 20ish minutes of our climb was in complete darkness so we had little flashlights on our heads to guide us. I actually enjoyed climbing so early because it felt pretty relaxing. At the end of the hike I thought I was going to die. To anyone who thinks I am fit, let me tell you, I was the least fit in this group of six. So that’s depressing. Well at least I made it. Our guide told us that we had climbed 1200meters (so about 3,900 feet) in 3 hours. I think the last hike I did with Janie and Laura had an elevation gain of 300 feet.
So I can appropriately call that a trek because hiking sticks were involved. Now THAT was a strenous hike. Considering I thought my heart might implode at several points of the trip.
Ok. people are waiting to use the computer at this hostel. We are in Cusco right now. THe hostel is the largest one we’ve been at yet, and I don’t really like it. It reminds me of a Berkeley coop. I think it’s better to just go to a more private hostel because there are way too many people waiting to use the same resources at this large one. Uh well ok what else…
Now I only have a general fond memory of Colca Canyon but I will make a note to never step foot in anything with the word Canyon in its name again. The three Irish girls were hilarious and probably the main highlight of that trip. There was also this Brazilian couple, the girl got sick and looked pretty terrible for the rest of the time but her bf was a trooper. We finished the second day’s hike at 8am and the tour took us to several more sites including breakfast, lunch, a hot springs, and some other view points. Then we got back to Arequipa, where we thankfully got to get a shower in our hostel. I then discovered that I had lost my wallet but then the bus company found it thank god.
Then we took the night bus to Cusco. I think this is when I lost my Ray Bans. I am also missing my eyedrops which leads me to believe that no one stole my sunglasses, but by complete stupidity it probably fell out of my backpack along with my eyedrops. SIGH SIGH SIGH. The movie on the bus was surprisingly good. Don’t know the title but it had Forest Whitaker, America Ferrrera and Regina King. I don’t have time to imdb it. I sat next to this old Peruvian woman named Norma. I am not sure if I understood her Spanish very well, but it appears that she runs an orphanage and was traveling to Cusco for work but generally lives in Trujillo. We carried on a conversation for much longer than anyone with my level of Spanish would be expected to.
The bus ride was a pretty crappy sleep. It vaciliated between freezing cold and sweatingly hot. No idea how. Arrived in Cusco, went to our hostel, explored the city a little bit. I think that’s enough writing for today
BEMOAN MY RAY BANSSSSS