Peru Entry #5

Colca Canyon Travel Blog

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So, Aneesha and , along with two other volunteers Valerie and Stephanie, only ended up having two days in the Arequipa/Colca Canyon area because we weren´t allowed to leave on the bus last Thursday night. We had to wait until Friday because the roads were too dangerous from the strikes. The ten hour overnight bus ride to Arequipa was totally worth it though, even if it was only for two days. We arrived in Arequipa Saturday morning and got straight onto another bus headed for Chivay. We saw some beautiful landscape along the way to Chivay....fields of crops, deep canyons, cacti....it reminded me a lot of the Southwest in the US. We stopped along the route for some mate de muna (tea for the stomach) and/or mate de coca (coca tea for the altitude). After we arrived in Chivay in the afternoon, we headed to the hot springs for a couple hours of hot bathing, which was much needed after a long overnight bus ride from Cusco. The evening entailed a local dinner along with traditional dancing and music. Then we were off to bed for a 5:30am wake up. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chivay

We were off to Colca Canyon by 6:30am so that we could make it to the ¨Cruz de Condors¨ by 8:30am. We watched huge condors with 9-10 foot wingspans cruise above and below us for about an hour...it was absolutley amazing!! The Andean condors glided effortlessly on thermal air currents rising from the canyon, and many times they swooped low over our heads. Don´t worry I got tons of photos with my 100-300 zoom lens....it´s a good thing I threw that lens in my backpack before I left the states because I almost didn´t bring it. The canyon itself was absolutely gorgeous as well. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colca_Canyon  Colca Canyon is the second deepest canyon in the world at 3191 meters (10,469 feet), with the deepest one being Canyon del Cotahuasi at 3341m (10,961 feet), which is right next to Colca Canyon. I read that Colca Canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, but it´s definitely not as wide. I can´t wait to use Photomatix when I get home and see the beautiful HDR shots I took in the canyon country.  We had a few hours in Arequipa before our bus departed Sunday night, so we visitied a famous monastery/convent for a few hours and then had a yummy Pizza dinner (along with Sangria) before departing on our overnigt bus back to Cusco. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arequipa

One of my roommates, Aneesha, departed back to the US on Tuesday.....I will miss her immensely. We shared many good times together over the past three weeks. You definitely get really close to someone really fast when you share a room in a foreign country. It´s been nice having such fun, flexible, outgoing, intelligent roommates. My other roommates, Grace and Marieke, are volunteering in the jungle for a few weeks. Grace will only be there for two weeks, so I will have a couple days with her again before she departs on July 26th. Vanessa, a Special Education teacher from Chicago, and Ratha, a finance student at CSULB, arrived to the house last week. Unfortunately they have both been sick for the past two weeks, so I haven´t done much with them outside of eating occassional meals or watching an episode of Family Guy on Vanessa´s laptop. The movies and TV shows on DVD are soooo cheap here....I´m definitely going to have to buy some before I leave. I could probably get Harry Potter, but I think I´ll just wait to see it on the IMAX at home.  

Tomorrow is my last official day of volunteering at San Juan de Dios. http://www.clinicasanjuandedioscusco.org/index-clinica.html My last day working in the Special Ed classrooms was Tuesday since the governor declared No School from july 15-31st due to the Swine Flu. There are still children in the clinic because 42 of them live there year round. Some of them are orphans, but most of them just have very poor parents who cannot afford to take care of their children with special needs....ie Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, wheelchairs, etc. I will miss their smiling faces. It amazes me how sweet and loving they are even though they battle such adversity everyday. As in years past, I´m sure it will be very difficult to leave the children. But, I can leave knowing that I have helped bring some joy and love to these sweet kids, even if it was only for four weeks. 

I am excited for my trek to Macchu Picchu next week. I will be hiking the Lares Trail for 3 days and then spending my last night in Aguas Calientes before hiking Macchu Picchu on the fourth day. It is going to be reallyyyy cold camping at night and I´m sure the altitude will kick my butt when I´m hiking, but I know it will all be worth even just one amazing photo of the ruins. :-) After that trek, I will recover with my family in Cusco for a few days before departing to the Amazon Jungle for 4-5 days. My final few days in Peru will be spent in Lima before I depart on August 2nd. Stay tuned for more adventure from Peru.....

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611 km (380 miles) traveled
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Colca Canyon
photo by: Vlindeke