Arequipa - Canyon Country

Trip Start Aug 06, 2010
Trip End Dec 20, 2010

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Monday, October 4, 2010

I wake up to someone getting out of their bunk and opening our dorm room door.  There is some murmuring and I look up to see Martin and Amelie outside.  Fully dressed with all there bags.  It quickly comes apparent that I have slept through my alarm (or turned it off) and the bus is in 20 minutes time.

I make a mad dash getting changed and packing my bags for the bus ride and literally run downstairs and into the waiting cab.  Martin checked my out to save time and we end up arriving at the bus terminal dead on 6am.  Its a bit of a mad rush but thankfully this is South America and things never leave on time so in the end we wait around for 20 minutes before the bus actually leaves.

I have the very front seat up the top which is great for the views of the scenery.  I like to take buses during the day.  I like to see how the scenery changes and the towns etc.  Also its much safer to travel by day.  The journey today is 11 hours but Iīm hungover so quite content to just sit back.  Also Iīm happy to get out of Cusco after my experiences over the last few days.  The first movie they show is in spanish so I donīt watch it.  The second is Public Enemy with Johnny Depp and its in english!  I watch the first three quarters before annoyingly sleeping through the ending.

Near the beginning of the trip I see a sign pointing to Arequipa but the driver takes a different direction which I think is strange, the lady assurend me the bus was direct.  Later it becomes apparent that we have gone a really long route, almost back to Puno and then down to Arequipa when there is (as far as Iīm aware) a road that goes directly from Cusco to Arequipa.  Stll the man next to me is a local and going to Arequipa so its weird he would chose a non-direct bus.

Finally we make it to Arequipa.  The scenery along the way has changed from the greenery of Cusco, to yellow deserts, arid plains and finally dusty plains.   Arequipa itself seems a dusty town and Iīm not too impressed.  We catch a taxi into the city and when we get to the main square (another Plaza de Armas) its really quite beautiful with a big square, fountain in the middle and flanked by colonial buildings on each side and a big cathederal.

Iīm quite impressed and after checking into our hotel we walk through the middle at night and its really nice.  We book ourselves a 3 day tour of the Colca Canyon which is one of the worlds largest and over twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the US at 4,000 metres.  I negotiate a discount on my bus ticket to Lima from the same agency and think Iīm doing pretty well until a couple sit down beside us an negotiate a price almost a third cheaper than what we paid for the tour.  Will have to remember to negotiate more!

We head to a restaurant that is Lonely Planetīs top pick for Arequipa and the meal is absolutely top notch.  I have a quinoa soup as a starter, apparently it is a really nutrious wheat (but not a wheat Iīm told).  Havenīt heard of it myself but maybe it is found back home.  The mains are served on hot plates and come out sizzling.  I go for a trilogy of meat, beef, alpaca and ostrich!   The food is really delicious and in London Iīm sure it would still be a really good restaurant.  Its a really classy place and even the iron stairs were designed by Gustaf Eiffel (the guy that designed the Eiffel Tower).  Thankfully the prices arenīt London prices!

Satisfied we all head back to our hostal, tomorrow we need to be ready for 3am!  This time I triple check my alarm to make sure I donīt have a repeat of yesterday.
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Dad on

Early to bed - early to rise. Luckily your friends called on you. Enjoy

Mum on

You'll certainly have some tales to tell, you've seen such a variety of things. Glad you're getting some good meals.
Love Mum

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