|Once again, relatively early, we set off for the main attraction near to Arequipa...the Colca Canyon.
The road winds its way northwest past the Chachani volcano (inactive) climbing all the time alongside the Arequipa to Juliaca railway.
Willy, our guide, wants to point out the massive cement factory on the way... Yes Peru is doing a lot of construction...
After a brief stop for supplies & to fix a punctured tyre we set off again.
We've been told that the altitude may affect some or all of us badly & we are given a demonstration on how to chew coca leaves (with a bit of ash). Phil (oz) takes to it really well munching on these odd leaves, but some including Marcel are gagging on them. Fiona has a green mouth & green teeth, whereas Marcel has just turned green.
We resort to chewing toffees, a much preferred option as it turns out sugar also helps combat the altitude effects.
The group on the bus are a friendly bunch, again a mixture from the US, OZ, UK & Holland. There is, however one woman, with her beleaguered looking husband who just cannot seem to shut up...she's driving Lindel nuts. There could well be an unfortunate accident occurring soon.
Passing llamas and alpacas we continue climbing up to the highest point, 4800m (15840ft). Up here we are all gasping for breath. Fiona, who'd previously wanted to walk to Everest base camp (16,500ft), is not rapidly reconsidering.
One girl at the back of the bus is really sick & needs help from Willy, all others just look plain ill.
Just after the highest point the road plummets dramatically down to Chivay, the main town in the Colca valley. We stop for lunch (at our hotel) & most head off to bed for some rest. Fiona & I are the only ones to visit the hot springs. These are similar to the ones in Banos but instead of happy locals & in fact fully of rowdy tourists. It brings back memories of Banos & we thought of the Wokingham girls roughing it in Ecuador.
Evening brings a trip to the local cabaret house, don't get excited lads' this is Peruvian cabaret not Parisian cabaret. Basically, this consists of VERY loud pan pie music (of course, what else did you expect by now, come on....) & some very strange dancing. In one dance, the couple repeatedly hit each other with a ball of flax (while trying to smile amidst the grimace). Then they drag the audience members in to endure the same beating. I wonder if this is a preparation for married life???
Don't worry it WAS noticed that both Willy & Mario (the guides) vanished during this part of the evening, not to mention THOSE who were not feeling too well & ate elsewhere (Natalie).
Tomorrow we travel into the canyon with a hope to see the Condor...