Alfredo's ya Man!!!

Trip Start Sep 04, 2012
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Trip End Aug 02, 2013


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Flag of Peru  ,
Friday, May 31, 2013

You'd have thought by now that we were getting good at booking and sorting our buses throughout this trip. Wrong. Getting up at 5.30 to get a 5 minute taxi to the bus station (which wasn't even friggin open!!) to get what we thought was a 6.30 bus = idiots! The bus was at 11.....it was cold and we had nearly 5 hours to kill! (it left LIMA at 6.30......which is about 200 miles away!). Brilliant!!!
Anyway, all this was after a bit of magic at a place called Huacachina! Our hostel was one of those that before you've even got though the door, they're tryin to flog you everything they have!! Tours, camera-fixing, onward buses and even strippers in this case!!! Put the ball away and give me my room key please!!! Anyway, I can't be too harsh on him coz we took him up on one of the tours.....sandboarding - Huacachina's signature activity (there's not too much else to do really because the huge dunes almost completely surround the town of Huacachina.....which consists of about 4 roads! Tiny!!). The way that you get to these dunes is by a guide racing up and down them in a dune buggy - and 'apparently' we were goin with 'Alfredo'.....crazy man! Kala wasn't sure but Paul and Steve, the brothers from the Galapagos, we're all for 'Crazy Alfredo' so we went with him! He took us out to a couple of spots where we shot down the sand on our boards (mostly on our front, because we were crap in the main at standing up on them!). A couple of the drops were pretty steep too - top fun! Kala told YET ANOTHER South American guide that she was 'scared' and again with the same results - she was basically told to shut it and was flung down the thing!! She loved it though - and was probably faster than me!! We saw the sun set over the sand and then Alfredo clicked into gear and WALLOPED that buggy all over the show!! We were up and down the dunes, jumping and skidding all over the place!! Kala's leg took a blow from the gear stick and everyones coccyx was in bits by the end!! Scary stuff at times, but class aswell!! A bit of adrenaline for a Friday evening!!
The next day there was a lazy one and started with a nice moment when Kala was surrounded by a class full of kids who wanted to practise their English. The teacher helped them all together ask her 5 questions which she answered, and they took notes. Ah. We did nothing else really except trek up the dunes for sunset, again with Paul and Steve, to take a few photos of the landscape. Lovely! Some real sand boarders were having a crack at jumps and twists and all that off a ramp in the sand (some with 'all the gear and no idea'!) so we had a watch of that for a bit.
Then onto Arequipa (after the painful bus day I talked about earlier!). Arequipa is yet another city that's main attraction is a very quaint and colourful 'old town' with finely restored cathedrals, churches and other such buildings that really give the place character. It's also surrounded by a smattering of volcanoes (where isn't in South America!!?)! Besides a lazy mooch around the place, one thing we did here was a guided tour to see the famous 'Juanita'. OK she's not that famous, but here she is seen as priceless! Found in the rim of a nearby volcano by a doctor in 1995, she was frozen and in the foetal position. The story behind this is that the Inca people took Juanita to the summit of the Mount Ampato volcano and sacrificed her with a blow to the head as a peace offering to the Gods in exchange for safety from the ferocity of the volcanoes. She knew from an early age she was going to be sacrificed and thought of it as her duty. This occurred approximately 500 years ago, and she was left on the volcano. She was 11-15 years old. Since that time, her body has slowly slid into the rim (approximately 160 metres from where she died) and that's where she was found. Her skin was completely dried and she lost her nose and lips, but her hair remained and her body was wrapped in clothes. Her body was extremely well preserved, and we could see her in the museum (well, we could if the guide switched the lights on properly!). Interesting story.
From Arequipa we did a 2-day trek into the nearby Colca Canyon (not so near though, as day 1 was a 2.45 get up!!). We got on the bus and there was one other bloke there.."I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry"......"what for mate?" ......"I'm sorry I'm sorry"....."por que?" (that's 'what for' in Spanish)...."I'm sorry I'm sorry".......this guy is HAMMERED!! Hope he's not our guide.........he's our guide!! Great! (as it goes his recovery was sensational!!). The first part of the day was to go and see the condors there. They're a hugely impressive bird with a wingspan of.....let me just check wikipedia.....yeah 10.5 feet! (About the 4th or 5th largest in the world). The older ones have a white rim around their neck, making them look like a king in the (???)teenth century (i don't know which century!!). One of their claws doesn't grip very well though, so they are forced to eat dead animals in the canyon - which we had an impressive view of by the way!
The two days saw us trek right down into it, stay a night in a basic little village and then trek back up the thing at 5am!! Too early again!! We avoided the sun though which helped! Our group consisted of 8 Canadians, 4 of which were doctors/nurses so we were in good hands! All of them but 3 opted to take a mule up the canyon in the morning instead of walking, which we thought was a bit cruel. That 3 became 2 when one of them was too ill to continue, but we liked him because it meant we got his egg on toast for brekky aswell ha ha!! Once at the top - more amazing views (not too dissimilar at all to the 'Tiger Leaping Gorge' trek we did in China). Breakfast, then lunch a couple of hours later, then home. From here we head back into the top of Chile and into the desert......
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