Travel Journal

jumping out of windows, counterfeit money and the patron saint of snakes....

(Thursday 10 June 2010) by Katie and Tina on the Run!
We have a lot of blogging to catch up on, but weve been waiting until we could find an internet cafe that would let us upload our pictures but alas, all of arequipa has no such place, so we will have to write now and picture later.....

To begin..

We took a bus from Cusco to Arequipa a week ago. Its a nine hour ride so we figured wed do it overnight and knock out paying for a hostel. We also decided to go with the most expensive company because we have heard not so awesome things about Peru buses (more to come on that...) When we booked the tickets we had the option of 1st or 2nd class, and the difference between the two being only about five dollars, we went with the high life.
When we got to the bus station (a covered patio and a bus) and boarded we quickly discovered that we were the only ones who went for the expensive ticket! So as everyone else pushed and shoved into the upper section of the bus, us spoiled Americans just waltzed right into the lower section where we had the entire thing to ourselves all night.
The other best part (besides when the flightattendant came to bring us our first class meal of a turkey sandwich and when we told her we were vegetarian she said they only have veg food on rides of twn hours or more. apparently vegetarians donqt need to eat if its less than that) Was the fact that the seats quicte litterally lay all the way back to a reclining position! Yes, we were hungry high rollers all the way to Arequipa.
empty bus ride..where is everybody?!
empty bus ride..where is everybody?!

We quickly decided that Arequipa is not our jam. the buildings are ugly and the backpackers are just here to party. We dont really fit in.
BUT! our first night here we made the now tiresome venture out to find something we could eat. We finally setteled on a vegetarian place that looked not entirely awful and sat in a lovely table, by the window.
The waitress was a supreme mumbler and we couldnt understand a damn thing she said so w just agreed to whatever the set dinner menu was, without knowing what the hell it was. bad choice.
First she brought out the traditional Peruvian soup weve had so many times its probably coming out our ears. But this time it tasted even more like feet than usual.
Then she brought us some unidentifiable juice smoothie.
Truly. No lying. Tasted like dirty laundry.
And finally, the icing on the oh so terrible cake.....we knew we were getting quinoa...what we werent prepared for was the jailhouse slop of supposed quinoa mush with some questionable green things floating in it. As well as the fact that tina wached her heat it up in a microwave.
Seriously it was like shes gone back there, gotten sick on a plate, and then brought it to us to eat.
We know it is incredibly privlidged and spoiled of us to turn our noses up at food people eat happily everyday...but this time we just really couldnt do it.
Tina looked at me with fear in her eyes and asked what we should do.
I folded my napkin and said
were gonna leave 10 soles (the actual cost of the meal) on the table, wait until shes in the back, then were gonna jump out this window and run like hell.
So thats exactly what we did to avoid the embarassment of telling her we couldnt possibly eat the food without vomiting!
We very well might spend some time in hell for that one.

Watched a teenie-bopper salsa competition that night where we had some massive confusion between us and the door guy and why he was trying to charge us 50 soles to get in, until we finally realized he though we were trying to enter the competition and that was the cost per couple! Oh the idea of us in a salsa competition in Peru. Hilarity.

After much debate due to lingering sickness, and cost and potential dislike, we finally decided that we would venture to the Colca Canyon (deepest canyon in the world, take that U.S.) on our own.
We started with a three(ish) hour bus to a small town called Chivay. Checked into a lovely hostel that had a pet baby alpaca hanging in the front yard. We fell in love (Tina names just about every animal we come across, pietry)
There are some great hot springs in Chivay that we took part in for a few hours that night. Oh how our aching bones needed that water.
the hot springs at chivay
the hot springs at chivay

Later, when we ventured out to find dinner (always a scary endeavor) we saw down the street a large group of local people holding hands and runnind and dancing to the music of a horn band following their parade in the rear.
Of course we had to run to join in!
They were quick to let us into their festivities, and although we had no idea whay on earth we were running around in long lines holding hands, with squishy ancient peruvian people who were all drunk, not to mention the fact that we are seven feet taller than anyone involved!
We made an intoxicated circle around the plaza before stopping to hoot and holler and pass around more of the corn beer all the local families make.
When we finally got to awkwardly ask someone what we were celebrating, we were told that St. blah blah blah was the patron saint of snakes and today was his day, hence the running around in lines like snakes!
We went to bed to the sounds of them still snaking. Man these people know how to party!

Finally ate dinner (the dinner was safe) Where afterward we paid with a 100 sole bill and when the lady brough Tina the change, Tina noticed that she handed her the 50 sole in a crumpled wad, rather than the normal way of giving someone their change nicely laid out.
Good news for us, Tina is a detective!!
She thought it was weird so she pulled another 50 out of our wallet to compare and discovered that the one she had given us was a fake!
So next (Tina may be the detecive but I am still the muscle) I had to confront the folks about the money. I told a boy that it was bad and he took it back into the kitchen where there was much hush hush talking and probably curse words and then it took fifteen minutes of confusion and no one talking to us for the lady to slam down a different bill on the counter and hurry away!
Tina saves the day!!

The next day we took a two hour bus to Cabanaconde, where the trek down the Colca Canyon, and our cursing and crying began..
the calm before the storm....or rather the top of the canyon bef
the calm before the storm....or rather the top of the canyon bef

Its a 3000 foot drop into the canyon, and our poor busted knees crunched the whole way down. We cursed ourselves for having such a terrible idea.
The botton of the canyon is called the Oasis, and from above, it truly looks like that. Sheer rock walls on both sides, and in the middle is a little island of palm trees and tiki huts and swimming pools.
The downside is that you can see it from the top...and then it takes three hours of it never feeling any closer, to get there.
Finally made it down, where we rented our own tiki hut and decided we werent going to brave that stupid canyon for two days.
Relaxed in the swimming pool, got in some good reading, and ran into yet another person from the states who knew me and my poetry! Oh the world just keeps getting smaller!
we lived in the one on the right!
we lived in the one on the right!

Finally hiked out at six in the morning to avoid the heat, and our i-pods plus a little trail dancing pulled us to the top. Much easier than the top pulled us to the bottom.

We decided to be very efficient and take a five(ish) hour bus straight back to Arequipa, and then we were going to hop on a midnight bus to Puno.
Oh how wrong we were.
This was a loesson learned in never. ever. expecting Peruvian buses to get anywhere in the amount of time they say they will. Also dont expect them to drive on paved roads. or have air conditionig. or for all the people sitting around you to have bathed recently. or for them to ever stop for anyone to use the restroom. five hours. no stops. wow.
We did stop again in Chivay just for people to get off. We thought there would be enough time for Tina to use the restroom.
Oh we were wrong.
Im holding down the fort of our seats, when suddenly the bus starts driving without my dear girlfriend on it! I jump up and (because i dont know how to say stop) just start screaming No! No! No! running ip the aisle, pushing over women with babies and shoving the empanada lady into a seat i finally get to the front and start banging on the door of the driver. By this point other people have started yelling faltawhich I assumed meant stop, now i think maybe it means go, but i started yelling this at the driver, along with mi amiga! mi amiga esta in el baqo! oh high school spanish did me well. except he really did not want to stop, finally the empanada lady tells the other guy something, which gets him to tell the guy to go back, but i am still nervous that were going to leave, plus were on the opposite side of the bus station that tina went into the bathroom so i think she will never find us but i cant go find her because the bus will lave and all ourstuff is on it!
Finally Tina finds us and the bus takes off while litterally we are jumping on....onqy for it to drive ten minutes before getting stuck beause of some road work from a bus that tipped over the edge only two days before!
Oh dios mio.
We sat there for an hour before getting back on our very bumpy way. At some point a guy stood up and started playing very loud flute music for 45 minutes and then tried to sell us mints.
We dont understand a lot here!
It took seven hungry and very much having to pee hours for us to get back.
We decided there was no way in hell we were getting on another bus last night, so we stayed here again and are headed out to Puno at 8:30.
Say some prayers for us!

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