Enclosed and separated by high walls from the rest of downtown it is a city within a city -- analogous to the Vatican on a smaller scale. Inner walls are stained bright burnt orange or sky blue by organic dyes that are regularly reapplied -- so one must be vigilant to not brush against them with your shoulder for example :). For 10 Soles extra I join another American couple to take a guided tour, which was well worth it to gain a deeper appreciation for why things were
Later being Saturday night I head out with a girl from the hostel and a local working both at the hostel and a bar. So no surprise he convinced Kateland to go to his bar that he promises is better than the one we intended to check out. Well turns out a b-day party pretty much had taken over the place and after awoke I choose to leave them to check out other bars on the main drag. I'm glad I did as the scene was better, danced with some local girls, bar hopped a bit, found one serving up 1L pints and a Latin rock band that was quite good despite not understanding what they were saying.
The next day sleep in and lazily wander the tourist shops and plaza square. One goal is to buy some warm clothes for the Colca Canyon trek and basically the rest of my stops all at high altitude and frigid nights that my current traveling wardrobe is illequipped to handle. I settle on well-made genuine 100% Baby Alpaca pullover and scarf rather than the cheaply made and/or cheekily designed tops sold by the run-of-the-mill shops that try to pawn off their wares as authentic even though the only thing that's Alpaca is the knitted design. Although I do also get a hat with flaps and tassels as well as gloves that are suitably cheesy for my Peruvian adventures. I've basically worn the pullover as my outer layer every day since.
I get probably (hopefully) my earliest start yet -- 3:15am departure on my way to a 3d/2n trek of Colca Canyon. Our shuttle takes us first to Cruz De Condor at 8:15 to watch the largest birds if prey soar effortlessly through the canyon by riding the thermals rising up due to the intense morning sun.
For the first half hour we spot nothing more than a small one, but then one-by-one fully-grown adults start appearing until there are about 15 floating both above and below us. After day after day of seeing humans they obviously are no longer concerned we pose a threat and perhaps are just being hopeful that some elder has an heart attack or over eager photographer loses their footing so the carrion-eaters -- same as Vultures -- can have their free meal. It really is amazing watching them lazily expand there wings some which can span 20ft to catch the riding air below.
We leave and arrive at Copaconda for lunch and to start the first leg of our trek into the canyon. Now my first observation is that this canyon is not quite as vertically formed as Zion or Havasu in the States, but rather a deep valley running between two rather high sets of mountains -- perhaps it's a marketing ploy to get more tourists :). Anyway it's still beautiful as we pound our knees into submission switch back after switch back until we cross a bridge and make for the 2nd village well be spending the night at.
As standard for local (and sometimes tourist) meals we get a bowl of typically bland soup either with vegetables or various chunks of chicken -- which for me is more for flavor than to try to eat around the bones or other parts -- and either noodles or a local grain. Then a main dish with plain white rice and/or fries -- it's standard to have 2-3 starches per meal -- and some fried vegetables and/or meat. Then after the meal we get tea -- standard, coca leaf -- which is the natural form of man-made Cocaine -- or other local plants.
As I mentioned to a few people on our trip when filling the somewhat obligatory forms that its my b-day today as they always ask for name, nationality, age, and profession as well as sometimes birthday, passport #,and martial status. I tend to leave out some info not warranted but enjoy trying out new professions -- I've been an astronaut, bomb squad, bungee jumper extraordinarie, and of course a world nomad. So anyway after dinner they found at the shop some streamers and balloons to make it a more festive atmosphere.
By the way my group consisted of a couple from the Netherlands, a Brit, and a Belgium guy. All of us were around the same age. Actually our guy with a name that sounds like Roosevelt was the youngest. I'm pleasantly surprised by the quality of our accommodations including tiled bathroom and shower that actually had hot water -- I'd planned to just skip that until the next day. Although our mattresses were more like hammocks the way they sunk inward.
The next day we have a relatively easy hike to the lowest point of the canyon where our oasis awaits.
Ok... this blog is bit incomplete but this damn keyboard is horrible and most of it I had done on my iPod... so I`ll finish it (perhaps) later... besides I´m currently a bit buzzed and about to head out after our party hostel closes down for the night -- but I have my run & coke in hand as I write ;). --Barry
My bus arrives actually on-time from Nazca and I easily get a cheap taxi to the hostel I was recommended and had reserved. The next day I get an overview of Peru's 2nd biggest city -- at least the center where I can walk to. I visit the massive and historical Santa Catalina monastery.