Arequipa started with a 16hr bus journey from Ormeño bus station in Lima. We´arrived just on time after having to shower after our impromptu dip in the pool, loads of goodbyes, tho I did keep telling them I would be back in 3 weeks. Freddy got really upset, so Ive told Sharon to keep a wee eye on him,wee Fernando was being really cuddly as well, so left a bit worried for them, tho Sharon has been called in as emergency help, thnaks Shaz :)
Wilson and Michael came to see us off from the station, so we felt really popular having people waving to us from the bus!! They are great, had a good laugh with them, we luv em!!
16hrs passed no too bad, slept on and off, with a bad version of the Matrix goin on in the background!
Arrival in Arequipa... Taxi driver took us for S4 to hostel of choice, but decided by Rachel it was too minging(backed up by mr friendly taxi driver), so we took his recomendation to the hotel San Agustin, S/20 each, but it was pretty good, clean and oor own bathroom, happy days. Went out to find a tour that we could go trekking in the Colca Canyon, the second deepest canyon in the world, after the Cotahuasi Canyon, also in Peru. After a lot of searching we found the smallest outfit in Arequipa and decided to book with them, still not sure of the companies name!
But.......it was $45 for 3 days trekking, 6hr bus journeys both ways and all meals, and a lot of other stuff we were promised but turned out not to be true! Muchas cheapness!
First night in Arequipa we decided to treat ourselves to a nice meal, unforunately the only thing nice about our meal was the price....
First thing in the morning we were picked up in a tiny taxi with our new trekking mate, Christine from Switzerland. Dropped quick style at the busy bus station with our brand new S/20 rucksacks we got on the local bus ready for the next 5 hrs!
Dunno why I was surprisd when my rucksack started to tear after about 3mins!
Dropped in Cabanaconde, met by Flavio- who spoke no English, taken to hostel for lunch, then we were off....First day trekking, was a speedy descent into the canyon, it was like we were competing for fastest descent. Took half the sole off Christines boots, no time for fotos, or even looking at thte scenery, eventually when we mananged to catch up to the elusive Flavio and asked why the hurry, we were informed we were trying to beat the rain. the whole time we could hear the thunder claps. Unfortunately 30mins from the first nights accomodation Llagua we were hit by the rain. Arrived in a wee farm with a bamboo shelter for tonights home. Brick hard beds and even harder pillows was what we got for paying el mucho cheapness price!
There was a hot tub, so we all trooped off to it, have seen cleaner, but at the least it wasnt black like the cold water pool. It was lovely resting shaky knees after that descent.
First night we met 2 Belgian girls, sure they were dykes- well at least that it wot Rachel said!, and a guy from Quebec who knew it all and a LOT of mozzies, awwww!!
Had enough listening to Mr Quebec after dinner and made tired excuses to get away!
Next day we started at 8am with pancakes for breakfast, then we were climbing...unexpectadly...unfortunately in last nights briefing(oh there wasnt one!!) it wasnt mentioned how the next day was to go!! 3 hrs climbing in the sun made for a hard climb, and 3 sweaty girls! Good when we got to the top, then it was another rapid descent into the Canyon, to the famous Oasis, with its pools. It was amazing, all this greenery in the middle of the canyon, so this time it was us who were rushing to get there,ade it in tim for lunchtime, a quick dip in the pool, then some traditional food, half a plate of rice, half, potato puree and a wee drop salsa to add some flavour on top. Staring to realise the pricing difference as the guys next to us had some meat and fruit!!
Weather came in again, so we hid in oor hut for the rest of the day trying to prepare oor bodies for the 2.30am rise we had been promised.
Dinner time was visited again by about 1000 mozzies, happy days!!!
3am in the morning we were awoken by the elusive Flavio, 20 min later we were ready for the trek in the dark up about 2000m.
Being girls we only had 1 torch that worked between us, so Flavio lit my path for me..intermittently(think he though I walked beer when I couldnae see a thing!!).....and Rachel sorted out Christine. All we could see was the feet in front of us, it wa pitch dark, which was actually a good thing as we couldnt get depressed by looking at the distance left to go, it wa only about 5.5km but all uphill. We took it slow and it was okay, 2 hrs later we were nearly there and the darkness had gone, sun was on its way. There were a few big steps that made it tough on the legs but we were the chicas poderosas and we done it, wet tshirts mind ya, but we got there. Met a manchester guy at the top with his water bottle half filled with whiskey.... Rachel took a token gulp, I wasnae brave enuff!! Thot we were finished but alas no..... another 30min walk took us back to Cabanaconde, the hostel where we had lunch the first day now served us scrambled eggs breakfast which was very welcome after all that walking. Flavio left us as elusively as he found us, and we were back on the Arequipa bus at 7am, felt like it was about lunchtime....
The bus was mad, there was at least twice as many people as there should have been on the bus, all with their traditional outfits, obligatory loads on their backs and those huge bags full of who knows what! The driver had 70s disco music on at full blast... The drivers compartment, usually only with driver and chofer(guy who takes tickets etc) was full, the guy opened the door and this kid went flying into the bus, there must have been about 10 people up front, safety?!¿!?¿!?
All was goin well, we got rid of a few passengers at random places on the road, they must have been planning on walking over the hills to who knows where!!
Then the bus stopped in the middle of nowwhere, assured they were only changing the water, it took about half an hour+ tho.... Then on the go again, and it stopped. Driver and chofer, sleeves up, engine open, spanners oot, and we all sat patiently, waiting n waiting, Peruvians are good at waiting, tired tourists less so!! We contemplated walking then was informed it was 50km to Arequipa, outwith our limits today.
Managed to get it started, on the go for about 1km, passed a sign for Arequipa 87km !!!then it stopped again. This time we were worried, we had a 6hr journey to Puno to go on 2night! Spanners oot, managed to stop another bus and get a hose to siphon petrol, driver walking up the middle of the bus with an open jerry can o petrol, tripping over bags in the aisle, kids on stools, people getting oot their seats for a look, the guy in the front of the bus shouting for another video as the latest Steven Seagal thriller had just ended! Perú, luv it!!
So about an hour passed with a lot of spanners toing and froing, and the bus started,just... guy in front shouting -shut the door, get a video on.... ,bus didnae sound too good, but we were off, yippeeee, me n Rachel cheered, got a few looks from the locals,obviously no the thing to do!! Didnae help when Rachel suggested in her new Spanish vocabulary "cierra la puta", thinking she was saying shut the door,not shut the whore!! Next time she gotta whisper in ma ear before she gets all these dirty looks from the locals.
Only problem this time was the smoke and stench of petrol all the passengers at the back of the bus were screaming about, so we stopped again, our only hope was the next bus leaving Cabanaconde could pick us up, then more petrol arrived, driver and chofer smiling, bus started, this time sounded like it could take us the 86km to Arequipa, the door was closed and we got Shrek 2 on to the delight of the guy in the front of the bus.
happy days, 1415 we arrived in Arequipa giving us enough time to go and complain to the tour company, back to the hotel pick up our bags, get shifted and make the 1830 bus to Puno.