With a heavy heart and a severely damaged liver, we left Bolivia. We got our bus to the border town, Puno. It was really not that unpleasant compared to previous journeys. I think knowing that this was our final Bolivian bus made it all sweeter. We heard from friends that Peruvian buses are a close second to the angelic buses of Argentina. Delighted. We skipped the floating islands and headed straight to Arequipa. At the border, tired and weak from our Bolivian bus but exited to jump on our glistening Peruvian bus. I handed my passport to the border police and he stared at it for a moment. Suddenly, his face lit up. He looked at me, absolutely delighted. It was as if he just realized that I was a celebrity but alas. Oh no. He merely pointed at my head in the picture and then at my head in person and exclaimed
before breaking into hysterics. Grande is big in Spanish by the way. I have a big head. A representative of the Peruvian government mocked the size of my head. Usually, I am the first to mock the size of my head but after a Bolivian bus journey, I was not willing to laugh about the size of my head. We jumped on the next bus and away we went.
We arrived in Arequipa insanely early. We found a cheap hostel to check into before moving to The Wild Rover. Unsure why now that I think about it but I am sure there was some rationale to it. Perhaps for a good nights sleep. However, the Rover in Arequipa is extremely tame in comparison to its Bolivian sister. After some fairly intense, constantly on the go traveling in Bolivia, Arequipa was full on holiday mode. We went to the WR which had a pool. There was plenty of relaxing by the pool and chilling out. It was pretty wonderful. There was six of us at this stage, me and two of the girls decided to do the Colca Canyon trek. It was modestly priced and I love treks so it was a no brainer. We were collected from our hostel @ 3.30 to bring us to our starting point was a bit of a rough start. I fell into a pattern of good nights sleep while in Arequipa. With all these treks, they are always going to be great but can be the best thing ever if you get a brilliant group. Unfortunately, our group was not the best. All very nice and pleasant people but without being much older than us, felt much more mature. This most likely says more about us than them. The trek was pretty intense at the time which I really enjoyed. It was a great walk and a superb bonding experience with my original South American traveling companions.
The trek was a lot of getting up early at stupid o'clock (I am bitter about waking up early). I say "a lot" but it was a 2 night, 3 day trek. So, there was 3 early starts but I am feeling dramatic. The first night, you stay in this really cool, tiny mountain village. The village might have a population of 50 (at the max). It was awesome. We just hung around up there and ate some amazing food that our guides supplied. It was at this dinner that I believe we lost the love and support of our group. I would like to believe we were the lovable retards of the group. Slow minded and constantly giggling at nothing. The giggling found a target though. There was a multilingual Colombian chap who was talking about how he found plurals in the English language really awkward. He was going into more details and used some examples. He said that he always says "Sheeps". That is sheep with an "s". We erupted with laughter. I could not stop laughing. It was one of those moments where you know you should stop but you just cant for whatever reason. Shameful scenes. This chap could speak Spanish, French, Flemmish and English but.....like, he added an "s" to a word that should not have one. What an idiot! In saying that, I am unsure if I can say "sheep" in any other language than English. I say "unsure" to insinuate that I may be able to say "sheep" in another language. I am delaying finishing this paragraph because I am certain that I know the word for sheep in Spanish but I just cannot put my finger on it. Alas, we must move on.
I am writing this first in a book before you get this pristine beautiful blog. I am writing it outside and a sprinkler has just turned on and scared the crap out of me. Anyway, lets move on. The second day/eve is easily the highlight of the trek. You trek down to an absolutely beautiful Oasis. Jesus, a nut just fell from a tree and nearly hit me. This park (in Auckland, NZ) is a death trap. Fingers crossed I can survive this. If not at least I'll die doing what I love the most. Talking absolute nonsense.
Moving on, the Oasis was unreal. We could see an absolute paradise below us which made the steep, steep downhill trek a lot easier. The Oasis was glorious. I sat on a rock overlooking a peaceful stream in the sun, sipping a beautiful beer. It was a glorious moment. Legs aching from the trek but so worth it. The shortest walk was on the final day. A three hour uphill walk, I believe. I was hoping for some sort of sleep in (as always) but alas, another 4am start. The early starts make plenty of sense, it is always to beat the humidity and heat. The final walk was fairly harrowing as it was quite steep uphill.
It was a very rewarding feeling to finish the trek. I really pushed myself and ended up doing it in a brilliant time but have no idea what time it was. I remember the guide being impressed, so you should be impressed also. I arrived at the peak of the canyon to find our Colombian pal having a moment up there. He was crying his eyes out. Hopefully not over our laughter at the "sheeps" incident. Maybe he was so proud to climb to the top first but then he saw a sheep and realised he will always be a failure when it comes to plurals, no matter how many canyons he climbs. I was too tired and enjoying the fresh orange juice that I purchased to see if he was OK. So, I just sat there, looking over the canyon drinking my juice with a Colombian man weeping in the background. It was just how I imagined it would be. We got the bus back to Arequipa where we spent a few more days hanging out by the pool. Arequipa is a really beautiful colonial town with some really nice and affordable restaurants. We had organized some voluntary work in Pisco for a few weeks time so we enjoyed splashing some cash while in Arequipa. By splashing out, I mean one or two tips to MacDonalds. We were not having lobster or anything. Guinea pig was surprisingly expensive in Arequipa for whatever reason. I could not really understand why as Guinea pigs were in abundance and do not contain much meat. Highly recommend Arequipa and the Wild Rover there. So much tamer than the others but enough happens to keep you entertained. The pool is really nice also. There is also a superb Mexican restaurant directly opposite the Wild Rover so make sure to check that out if in the area. Oh, we also went to see "Juanita" who is an Incan Ice Maiden. Sounds exotic! Juanita was a child who was going to be killed as an offering to the Incan gods in roughly 1450 but whatever happened, she died before the offering and was preserved in Ice. She is still preserved there and it was pretty crazy to see how well preserved her body is. I found the tour epically boring but from my previous blogs, we have established that I am borderline retarded. However, when we started learning about Juanita, it got very interesting. I cannot really remember how much the tour was but I think I would recommend it. I think they just padded a pretty boring tour around Juanita but Juanita herself is very impressive.