We get up in the morning, and have a continental breakfast - a roll with a bit of jam, juice and mate de coca... I don't even have time to finish it off. We take a bus (picture on the left) and go to the mountains, supplied with coke leaves.
Arequipa is situated 2398 m above the sea level, and we are going to reach Chivay, going through Pass of Winds situated 3650m. We travel in great company, two very nice girls from Austria: Elizabeth and Eve, and an elderly couple from Quebec and guide.
On our way we visit Indian village where you can drink Mate De Coca or buy a traditional woollen hat or a jumper. As usual I can’t take my eyes of the children and I keep taking photos… We also met a very companionable lama that made us laugh a lot.
Colca Valley is about 100 km from Arequipa. On the border of Arequipa there are seven volcanoes, Mismi (5597 m), Cutiti (5063 m), Bomboya (5200 m), Hualca Hualca (6025 m), Sabancaya (5976 m), Ampato (6310 m) and Ananta (5100 m). At the bottom of the valley there are 8000 hectares of gorgeous preinkanian terraces with a subtle irrigate system. Every single bit of the ground is used; flat slopes are wider than the steep slopes.
On our way to Chivay we pass 3 natural levels: QUECHUA 2500-3500m, SUNI 3500-4500m, PUNA above 4500m. Our guide tells us that on the first level we will only see cacti, as there are no animals!
La presencia de tres regiones geográficas naturales del Perú, variedad de microclimas y zonas de vida ecológicas: Quechua, Suni y Puna a más de 4500 m.s.n.m.
Later on we see lamas and a lot of plants. We stop again to admire all the beautiful views and that is when I think to myself I’m scared of heights, but luckily there are coca leaves to make me feel better. We get to the wind pass, nearly 5000 metres, but after taking two steps I can hardly breathe! All around us there is an unbelievable amount of apachetas. Anyone can build one from all the stones that lie around and leave there something for the mother Pachamama – Mother of Nature. Usually people leave something precious such as Coca leaves. While building it you can pray to the Pacha mother with your own intention, or as gringos say, have a wish. I could hardly bend down, but I could not resist a prayer in a place like that!
Chivay welcomes us with a few dressed up lamas. In Quechua, Chivay means love, so we are entering the city of love. Unfortunately the love was quite expensive there; we had to pay 35 soles per person to enter the park.
We arrived at a small restaurant filled up with tourists. There was a table full of traditional dishes and for 15 soles you could practically eat everything that was on the table. The food was deee-li-cious! After that we had two hours to relax at the hotel, where they have booked us in but with some very strange surnames…
In the evening we went to La Calera – hot baths full of calcium and iron! The water coming up from the ground can even be up to 85°C hot! It was amazing! We met a group of Polish people who bought their trip in a travel agency, and for 18 day they have paid the same amount of money as we did for 5 weeks!
Later on in the evening there was a traditional dinner cooked for us and a dance show. We walked into a hall full of tourists… and thought it wasn’t something we wanted to see, so we tried to explain to our guide that we are going somewhere else, but she got a little bit upset... but we really didn’t want to spend a whole evening with tourists… As we walked around the town we heard some music noise. As we followed the noise we got to some school where people were having dance rehearsals and they didn’t mind us staying there and watching. Robak has even got up to dance with them! On our way back to the hotel I went to the internet café for 15 minutes just to check my emails and I found out that I’ll have a son! Unfortunately I was exhausted and had to energy to celebrate. I hardly slept during the night. I’m sure it’s the city of love.
In the morning I'm still feel awfull, help is coming from my Austrian friends, they gave me some tablets, and I feel much better after that. Later that day they save me from being run over by the bus. We laugh about the girls rescuing me twice today. Isn't it funny that sometimes one meeting has such a huge influence on my perception of an entire nation? I know how false generalizations can be, but because of those two girls I have such sympathy for the Austrian nation now. Big kisses for Elizabeth an Eve. And hope to see you soon, maybe on Machu Picchu.
Today we are going to Cruz del Condor which is 3450 m above the sea level. On our way up we stop a few times to take a look on all those beautiful views. We also visit Yanque where we go to see an old church with baroque exteriors. On Plaza de Armas there are a few Indian girls dancing for tourists... The view of one poor skinny girl holding a piece of cloth and all the beautiful mountains are very sad. This contrasting image will be in my mind for the whole journey. Incredibly beautiful country, exploited by white people to some extent, firstly all the gold was stolen, then all the culture changed, Catholic churches were built, today all the travel agencies there are usually from outside Peru... it’s hard to believe but even today people lose their belongings!
We was on a road that was going through the valley, so the views were excellent once again and I couldn’t take my eyes away from the car window…Unfortunately during the rainy weather it is not so beautiful… all of the views are covered by dark clouds and I wasn’t able to see a lot.
That’s all about the most important place. The name Cruz Del Condor comes from all of the condors flying around and some of them can be up to 3 metres wide! All of the local people were amazed by the condors so much that they have made them their symbol. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the condors nor the canyon. The canyon is a lot narrower than and twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in Colorado, USA. What was interesting about it was that it was explored by Polish people in 1979! Next time I will be there I will spend my whole day there and go down the canyon to see it better.
On our way back we stopped for dinner just like the day before. We went back to Arequipa to go to travel information to find out about the Machu Picchu… We found out that there are only two free dates that will be during our time in America! We had to change our plans, as this was something very important and exciting, we couldn’t miss it! We planned everything again! I felt like Willy Fog, except that I didn’t have the suitcase full of money! We have to go now, bus to Puno will be here soon!