Monthly Archives: October 2005

Rafting Trip Day 1

October 25, 2005
Day 27

Tom, Henry, Lisa, and I got up early today and boarded a bus to go to the Urubamba river for our two-day rafting excursion. Another group of four people who had chosen to go for only one day went along with us. After riding the bus for an hour or so, we arrived at our campsite. It was a quiet place on a little lake near a small town. We joked that the lake was where we were going to begin our trip. It turned out that we weren't that far off.

When we booked the two-day trip, we had all pictured going down good rapids the first day and even better ones the second. However, the tour agency saw things differently. We were told that the people doing the one-day trip would get to do class 2 and 3 rapids while we would start our first day on the class 1 rapids further down the river. What a horrible plan! It's not like they had any more experience than us, and they would get to do a better trip than us simply because they were paying for one less day. After we did some complaining, the tour guides agreed that we didn't need to sit through three hours of training on class 1 rapids and allowed us to do the same run as the other group. The only downside would be that we would have to go down the same section of river for day two. No big deal.

After settling our agreement, we dropped off our stuff at the campsite and got back in the bus to go up the river. At the starting point, we put on our wet suits while the guides pumped up the rafts and the locals across the river laughed at us. After about thirty minutes of preparation, we were ready to go. The other group got in their raft and left. Next, it was our turn.

After putting our raft in the water, we heard a strange bubbling noise. "Maybe it's normal," I thought. No dice. There was a hole in the raft. We flipped the raft over and began pumping more air into it to try to figure out where the hole was. Meanwhile, one of the guides ran away in a frenzy and returned a few minutes later.

Ten minutes after the guide got back, a very fat, sweaty man lurched over the bridge in our direction. I think they left at the same time. The fat man had the perfect solution for a hole in a raft: a wrench wrapped with duct tape.

The guide began unraveling the tape from the wrench and applying it to the hole. Slowly but surely, the hole was plugged. However, after trying to pump air into the raft again, we noticed that there was another leak. It was obviously a high quality raft crafted of the finest material available.

The fat man was getting visibly flustered with the whole ordeal. He kept complaining that the guide was wasting all of his duct tape. Sure enough, the wrench was getting low, but I though he was doing a good job of rationing it. The next thing I knew, the other guide came over and the shit really hit the fan. The guide took about a foot of tape and covered the entire seam of the raft with it. The fat man was drowning in his own sweat by this point. When the guide grabbed some more tape and accidentally folded it over itself, rendering it useless, the fat man's gut popped out from under his shirt. I thought he was going to have a heart attack. How could a man who was obviously very liberal with food be so conservative with material goods?

After thirty minutes of testing, patching, and sweating, the raft appeared to be fixed. We flipped it over and took off, holes be damned. The first few minutes of the trip were spent on learning the commands of the guide, who was driving the raft. "Back," "forward," and "stop" were basically all we needed to know. Then we hit the rapids.

A lot of the rapids were fun, but not too extreme. I would guess that we hit maybe one or two class 3's the entire time. It was the river's low season, I was told. We did make it more interesting, though. There was a lot of pushing of others into the water, and the guide was constantly telling funny stories. A few times we tried to navigate the tough rapids with precision, but we ended up looking more like a pinball machine than a fine-oiled machine the way we bounced off the rocks. Maybe it was a good thing the river wasn't higher.

For the last thirty minutes of the trip, I went into the ducky, a small kayak-like raft that could only hold two people. Up till that point, another guide had been riding in it in case anything went wrong with our raft. The ducky required a lot more effort on my part, but it was also a lot more fun than the raft. I got soaking wet going through every rapid, and I almost fell out a few times.

When we finished the trip, we got changed and packed up our gear. We were told that we would be able to take the raft without any holes in it for the second day. Next, we headed back to the campsite for lunch.

When we got to campsite, the tents, including the eating tent, were already set up, and our amazing lunch was soon served. We each got soup, salad, and a large main course, followed by dessert and a large bottle of Coke. I couldn't believe how much food there was for a camping trip. Then I was informed that at SAS (the company we booked through), all meals were like this. I could get used to this pretty easily. Unfortunately for the other rafting group, they had to leave when they were done eating.

After lunch, a bunch of local kids began playing soccer and volleyball near us. We joined them for a bit, but then I remembered my frisbee. Henry already knew how to throw, so I began throwing around with him. Then the kids joined in. Next, the rest of our group wanted to play. I suggested a game of "hot box," an Ultimate game you can play with limited numbers. The game was a major success, attracting lots of attention from the kids. Maybe I'll start a trend here.

Later, we took a walk into town for some supplies and returned to eat supper. Again, it was great. The only problem was that everyone but Henry started to feel sick. It seemed that we had too much fun going into the river earlier in the day. We played some cards and went to bed early, hoping to feel better in the morning.

The photo album for this entry is here.

Preparing for a Long Week

October 24, 2005
Day 26

To start the day today, I got together with Tom, Henry, and Lisa to plan our rafting trip. We decided to do a two day trip down the Urubamba river. We will camp overnight after day 1, so it should be a good time. The only problem is that I won't have any free time before my Inca Trail trek begins, so I will basically be away from civilization for six days.

After buying the tickets, we checked out the Inca Museum, which is supposed to be the best museum in town. Of course, being a good museum, it wasn't included in my tourism ticket, so I had to pay another entrance fee. The museum was really great, but it didn't get to the Inca culture until the very end, so its name was a bit misleading. Still, all of the artifacts from the various cultures that existed in Peru over 500 years ago were very interesting. Of course, they didn't let me take any pictures, so you'll have to take my word for it.

After seeing the museum, we decided to go to a movie. Batman Begins looked good, so off we went. I soon realized that the movie was in fact being played in a bar, not a movie theater. This was a good thing because it was free, but it also kind of sucked because the sound system was horrible. There was so much bass that it was almost impossible to make out what the people were saying. I got more from reading the Spanish subtitles than listening to the movie. Anyway, I still thought it was pretty good, but maybe I'll have to watch it again when I get home.

After the movie, I went back to the hostel to try and get some sleep in preparation for my upcoming excursions.

More of Cusco

October 23, 2005
Day 25

I wanted to see more of the sites that my ticket I bought yesterday covered, and according to my guidebook, the main cathedral in town was one of them. When I got to the cathedral, I saw the sign that said that it wasn't covered by the ticket anymore and that I'd have to pay $5 to walk through it. So not only did I have to pay for the main tourism ticket, but it doesn't even cover some of the best sites in the city. Still, I did want to see the cathedral, and I was already there, so I bought the ticket.

The inside of the cathedral was really nice. Of course, it took over 100 years to build, so they had plenty of time to make sure they got the job done right. It was filled with paintings that combined European and Inca traditions. One such example was the painting of the Last Supper in which a guinea pig was the main course. Unfortunately, photography was prohibited, so I don't have any pictures to show you.

After checking out the main cathedral, I realized that the ticket I bought also included a visit to a religious museum and another church. They both also included many examples of artwork that combined the colonial and Andean traditions. The most impressive part to me was the gigantic wood carving that one man supposedly worked on for four years straight.

Once I had visited all of the items on today's ticket, I walked passed some Inca walls and had lunch with some people from my hostel. Rafting came up in the discussion, and we will probably go in the next few days, before my Inca Trail trek begins.

At night, my hostel had a Sunday roast, which is a tradition in England and Australia. I had a huge helping of roast beef, mashed potatoes, and vegetables. I think it was the first time since I left that I had eaten food that I was familiar with before the trip. The meal made me sleepy, so I played cards with some people and went to bed early.

Ruins Around Cusco

October 22, 2005
Day 24

My overnight bus got to Cusco at 5:00 AM today. I paid more money for a good bus company this time, but I'm still not sure it was worth it. The private waiting room, included dinner, and televisions on the bus that actually worked were nice. Still, even though there was more leg room, it wasn't enough for me. My knees still took a hard beating for most of the night. And, while having a bathroom on the bus for a nine-hour ride was nice, the constant annoyance of people walking back and forth to use it made it seem not worthwhile. Needless to say, I was exhausted when I got to Cusco.

The hostel I'm staying in (the one recommended to me by someone in Arequipa) is a really good place. It was bought and renovated by some Australians who didn't want to go back home. It has a great view of the city, a bar, a kitchen, free Internet, free breakfast, and a good atmosphere to meet people. In fact, Tom and Henry, the Brits I met on the first day of my trip in Lima, and Nico, a Dutch guy I met in Nazca, are also staying here. The world of the South American traveler is a small one indeed. I keep seeing the same people in every city I go to.

After catching a quick early morning nap, I decided to do some sight seeing. I quickly learned that Cusco gouges tourists even more than the rest of Peru. To see most of the ruins, churches, and museums around the city, you have to by an all-inclusive ticket for about $22. This price is double what it was a few years ago, and you can't buy individual tickets to the attractions you want to see. Obviously tourism is by far the biggest industry in this city.

After buying my ticket, I wanted to see the ruins. There are four major Inca ruin sites along the same road leading out of town. I heard that most people who don't do a group tour take a bus to the last and highest site and walk the 8 KM downhill back into town, visiting the rest of the sites on the way. I asked a couple of people if it was possible to walk the entire way up, and they said that it would be no problem, and it would take two hours.

As I began hiking up a steep hill, I suddenly realized that it was very hot and sunny, I was wearing my jacket, and I didn't have a hat or sunscreen. I tried to find some shade, but there wasn't any. It was high noon and shadows were nowhere to be found. I thought about going back, but when some clouds rolled in, I thought I would be OK. After all, I was only in the sun for half an hour. Later in the day, I would realize how wrong I was when I looked at my sunburned face.

The first site I visited was Sacsayhuaman, which most of the tourists call "Sexy Woman." It was a big site, but the most interesting part of it was the giant zigzagging rock wall, which the Incas created to represent the teeth of a puma (the rest of Sacsayhuaman is supposed to look like the head of the puma, and the rest of Cusco is its body). The wall also provided a good fortification to keep out intruders. At the top one of the hills of Sacsayhuaman is a giant statue of Jesus looking over the city. This seems to be a recurring theme in South America.

After thirty minutes of walking, I reached Q'enqo, the second set of ruins. It was used for sacrifices, and it had several tunnels to walk through. The site also had a nice view of the outskirts of Cusco.

The walk to the last two sites was a long one. After walking for over an hour uphill, I was getting hungry. I decided to have a bite to eat in a small village along the way. The "restaurant" was really just a woman's house with a few tables set up, but that's pretty standard in Peru. What's not standard is having a dirt floor with guinea pigs and chickens running around freely. I had a soup and some rice, but I could barely eat the fried potatoes and egg because the place was so filthy. I'm normally pretty adventurous when it comes to food, but this place was even too much for me. I didn't have to reset the vomit counter, but I came close.

Just a few hundred meters past the restaurant were Puca Pucara and Tambo Machay, the last two ruins sites. The former was used as a hunting post and a stopping point for travelers, and the latter has a bath that channels water from the mountains. The ruins themselves were interesting, but what fascinated me the most was the large amount of Peruvians visiting them. The local people here have very strong ties with their cultural heritage.

After I finished with the ruins, I was going to walk all the way back to Cusco, but an empty bus that could take me there pulled up just as I set foot on the main road. I figured I had done enough walking that day and got on.

That night, I learned how festive my hostel is. I hung out with a lot of people in the bar and had a good time. Later on, Nico, Tom, Henry, Katie from the US, and Lisa from Australia went out for a night on the town. Fun was had by all, and it was a good change from the cheap-but-boring places I had been staying at.

The photo album for this entry is here.

One More Day in Arequipa

October 21, 2005
Day 23

I had been traveling so fast and doing so many things that I thought I should rest for one day in Arequipa. For the most part, all I did today was chat online with friends and take a walk around the city.

Between my relaxation sessions, I went to the Casa de Moral, a mansion that is almost 300 years old. It has been a school, a seminary, and a place for rich people to live, but now a bank owns it. The house gets its name from the large mulberry tree in the back yard. The rooms in the mansion form the perimeter of the large courtyard. The dining room and bedroom were somewhat interesting, but I don't think it was worth the $1.50 price of admission. The bank better make this house more interesting to visitors or it might get foreclosed.

Later on in the evening, I will ride a night bus to Cusco. A girl told me about a good place to stay at there, so I think I'll try it out.

Walking Around and Relaxing

October 20, 2005
Day 22

I had a hard time sleeping last night. My room is right next to a busy street with constant horn-honking, and it starts to get light at 4:30 AM here, so by 5:00, the entire room was lit up. I got up and walked around like a zombie for awhile, unable to sleep or wake up.

I don't think Morad slept all night. He was able to get a flight out of town today, so after packing up and having lunch we said our goodbyes. I hope everything goes well for you, Morad. Maybe you'll be back in South America in no time.

This afternoon was mainly spent catching up on my blog, but I also took a walk through the city. I went to Yanahuara, which is a nice suburb of Arequipa. The main plaza was aligned with palm trees, and there were lots of people chilling out, as usual. At the edge of the plaza was a mirador, a place to look over the entire city.

On the way back from Yanahuara, I walked past a religious procession. There were thousands of people marching down the street in a very somber mood. I wasn't too surprised, though, because that kind of thing happens nearly every day here. Keeping on the same theme, after I got back to the Plaza de Armas in Arequipa, I decided to look at the cathedral that takes up an entire block. It had a huge pipe organ in the back, and was generally very nice to walk around.

Later at night, I went to the bus station to buy a ticket for Cuzco tomorrow night. Tomorrow, I should definitely be able to get caught up on my blog. I had fallen way behind from going to the Colca Cañon. (The entire town of Yanque only had one phone. I don't think they had ever heard of the Internet.) I'll probably spend close to two weeks in the Cuzco area, so tomorrow will also probably give me a good day's rest in preparation for my trip.

Return to Arequipa

October 19, 2005
Day 21

After getting a good night's sleep, I was able to wake up rather early this morning. Yanque is in the middle of nowhere, so there was no city noise to deal with. Morad and I got breakfast, packed our stuff, and hopped on the bus back to Arequipa at 11:00 AM.

Bus? Did I say bus? Yes. Last night I was so exhausted when we bought our tickets that I forgot about my promise not to ride the bus back to Arequipa. However, this ride was a lot better. I brought my mp3 player, so I didn't have to deal with any screaming babies. I also got to sit in the front row, where there is more leg room. The ride was still bumpy, but not nearly as bad as the ride to the canyon area.

We went back to the same hostel we were staying at, but the only space they had was in the dorm room. There were only four beds in the room, though, so it wasn't too bad, except for the guy next to me who sleeps sixteen hours per day and reads his Harry Potter book the other eight.

Tonight, I found out that Morad has to go back to France due to a family illness. He will probably be able to catch a plane out of town tomorrow. I'm planning on staying in Arequipa for two more nights because I'm so exhausted from my recent travels.

I went to bed early, still tired from the Colca Cañon trip.

Cruz del Condor and Colca Cañon

October 18, 2005
Day 20

There was only one early bus out of Yanque, and Morad and I had to get up at 4:30 AM to catch it. It actually wasn't too bad getting up that early because there was absolutely nothing to do last night other than feel my head throb and listen to my stomach rumble, so I went to bed really early. We still had to wait 45 minutes for the bus to show up because it was late, but that should have been expected.

By the time the bus made it to Yanque, it was already packed. It was so full, in fact, that I almost had to sit on the toilet. Instead, I stood right next to the bathroom, which was located in the center of the bus below the seats. At one point, the bus turned so sharply that I nearly fell right in.

Eventually, some people got off and I could move to a normal standing position in the aisle, but I think I was worse off there. The ceiling on the bus was about six inches shorter than I am, and the bus was still too full to lean forward or back, so I had to kink my neck alternately to the left and right for the entire trip. There was also a screaming baby next to me, but his mom stuck her boob in his face to rectify the situation. It was another painful bus ride, but not nearly as bad as the day before.

The first stop on our makeshift tour was Cruz del Condor, where each morning, hundreds of condors that nest in the canyon fly down to the bottom to eat. Immediately after exiting the bus, we were approached by two national park workers who wanted 24 soles to view the site. 24 soles may not sound like much, but I only paid 10 soles for my hotel last night, and the site just had a few platforms to view the condors from, so it seemed like a major rip-off, and one that neither of us had expected beforehand.

After paying the fee, we walked down to the first platform. There were only a few other tourists, but it was only 7:00 and I read that the condors normally fly until 8:30, so I wasn't too surprised. The thing that did surprise me was that there were no condors.

One by one, the group tour buses started to pour into the site. Eventually, the place was being overrun with tourists (the scene looked strangly familiar). This wouldn't have been a big deal, except by 8:00, I still had not seen any condors. Jokes started to fly left and right about what happened to them. "Maybe they went on strike," "Maybe they are on an even higher ledge watching us," "Maybe a bus full of condors is going to arrive and the driver will throw them over the edge for us." Morad lamented the fact that he didn't bring his condor suit with him so at least a few people in the crowd could get some excitement.

At around 8:20, we finally saw our first condor. It was very far away, and it only briefly descended into the canyon before returning to its nest. People started groaning and looking at their watches. Most of the buses left at 8:30, so people started leaving in droves. Morad and I waited around until 9:00, but we didn't see any more condors. No wonder they call it "Cruz del Condor" (Cross of the Condor).

The next bus to Cabanaconde, where our canyon trek would begin, wasn't scheduled to arrive at Cruz del Condor until 11:00, and considering how late the buses had been lately, we figured we'd be better off to make the two-hour walk instead of waiting around. During our walk, we passed another group of people going in the same direction. They had a guide with them, and they were walking very slowly. We confirmed with them that we were in fact going the right direction and continued past them. The road to Cabanaconde seemed to take forever because it looped around several farmers' fields. We made it to the town in exactly two hours.

Neither of us had eaten all day, so as soon as we got into town, we found a restaurant to eat lunch at. I seemed to recognize the people at the table next to me, but I couldn't figure out from where. Then I realized that they were the same people we passed on the road to town! "Our guide led us on a massive shortcut," one guy told me. "We've been here fifteen minutes already." I guess we may have wasted energy getting there, but at least we got there.

We had been hearing different stories all day about what time the last bus left Cabanaconde to go back to Yanque. Some people said 4:00, others said 6:00, and still others said 10:00. It was already noon, and the hike to the bottom of the canyon and back was supposed to take six hours, so we figured we'd give it a try if the last bus left at 8:00 or later. We went to the bus station to get the official time: 9:00. The trek was on.

Our trek technically started at the bus station. From there, we walked to the edge of town, through muddy fields, and along a river. We couldn't believe that we were on the correct route, but everyone we asked along the way pointed in the same direction. Finally after twenty minutes, we reached the top of the canyon.

I looked down and saw a tiny green area at the bottom: the oasis. I had been hearing stories from people all day who had been to the oasis. Generally, the tours take people to the bottom, where there are swimming pools, palm trees, and cabanas. Most people either camp in tents or sleep in the cabanas overnight. This is followed by the trek back up to the top at 4:00 AM. Since we didn't have anything planned, we didn't have any gear with us, so we had to go down and come back up that day.

The hike down was mentally difficult. The path was a combination of dirt, pebbles, rocks, and boulders. It was very steep and it zigzagged back and forth all the way to the bottom. Every step I took, I had to be careful not to sprain an ankle. The entire way down, I kept thinking "This is going to suck coming back up." We kept a fast pace to get as much relaxation time at the bottom as possible. The oasis got bigger and bigger as the path moved back and forth.

After 90 minutes, we got to the Oasis. It was a lush, green area that looked like something straight out of "Gilligan's Island." The only other people there were a few other tourists and some guides playing soccer. "Sangalle," as it is known locally, was every bit as beautiful as people had described to me.

We relaxed at the oasis for an hour or so. I took a quick nap and felt fairly refreshed. I didn't have any food with me, but I still had nearly a liter of water left, so I figured I'd have enough energy to make it back up. After a short trip to the river at the very bottom of the canyon, we made our way back up to the top.

The walk up was grueling from the beginning. For the first time all day, I felt the altitude in my lungs. Breathing was nearly impossible. My heart never stopped racing, even during our frequent breaks. My legs felt like jello. I quickly ran low on water. I had been drinking water all day to keep myself hydrated, but even 3.5 liters wasn't enough. After 90 minutes, the top still looked so far away, I didn't know how I would make it all the way up.

Then, as I turned one of the endless corners, I saw through my delirious eyes what appeared to be a local woman. This enterprising lady was sitting on the path with a wide array of beverages and candy bars for sale. I needed the energy so badly that I didn't even mind paying triple the normal price. After I ate a candy bar and drank a bottle of Coke, I could almost hear the "Popeye" theme song playing. My legs wobbled a few times when the Coke hit them, and I practically sprinted to the top.

We made it up in a little less than three hours, just before it got completely dark. That gave us over two hours before the bus would leave. After a quick spaghetti and French fry dinner, we bought bus tickets back to Arequipa for tomorrow and talked the guy at the bus company into letting us get on the bus early. Thus began a long night of rest.

Cruz del Condor Photos
Cabanaconde and Canyon Photos

Rough Road to Yanque

October 17, 2005
Day 19

I decided that I hadn't seen enough dead bodies lately, so this morning I went to the Museo Santuarios Andinos to see the frozen corpse of "Juanita," who was sacrificed 500 years ago. Before seeing the body (I was told not to call it a mummy), I got to see a movie about how she was discovered. There were also a few Incan artifacts relating to the body.

The most impressive thing about the whole ordeal to me was that Juanita was sacrificed at the top of Mount Ampato, which is 6288 meters (20,630 feet) above sea level. That's higher than Mount McKinley (6194 meters, 20,322 feet), which wasn't summited until the 20th century! She knew what was going to happen to her, and she climbed to the top of the mountain willingly with several Inca rulers. She was given a sedative before being struck with a rock on the right temple. The archaeologists even found her umbilical chord, which probably means she was picked for the sacrifice before birth. She died when she was 11 or 12 years old. There wasn't much else to the museum, and the extremely-paranoid-about-preservation curator wouldn't let me take pictures, but it was still worth it because Juanita is the best-preserved human sacrifice ever discovered.

This afternoon, Morad and I took a bus Yanque. I can easily say that it was the single worst bus ride of my life. To start off, there were several mothers with crying babies all around me. I couldn't hear myself think they were yelling so loudly. Next, after we were on the road for awhile, the sun started beating down into my eyes. No matter how I shifted in my seat, I couldn't seem to get any relief from its relentless heat and brightness. Then I heard the crunching noise that has become all too familiar for me on Peruvian buses: the guy in front of me moved his seat back. The buses here are already made for people a foot shorter than me, and when the seat in front of me reclines, I get to feel my kneecaps slide into my thighs. I already thought the ride was a nightmare, but it only got worse.

After an hour or so, the pavement ran out. The last four hours of the trip were on a gravel road, twisting and turning up and down the side of a mountain. With all of the shaking, screaming, and shinning light on the over-packed bus, I guess the driver wanted to calm everyone down. His solution was to turn on the most awful-sounding high-pitched traditional Andean music that exists on the blown-out bus speakers at 110 decibels. All of my senses were in such pain that I actually felt my brain dying a slow, miserable death.

Then, probably the worst part of the experience happened to me: I saw the guy across the aisle from me reading a magazine. It immediately reminded me of an old Jack Handy joke (number 36), which made the situation even worse. I don't even remember the last thirty minutes. I think I am subconsciously blocking it out of my mind. When we stopped, I told Morad that there was no way I would take a bus back to Arequipa. The train was the only way to go for me, even if it meant paying twice as much and taking twice as long.

After the bus ride from hell, I felt so queasy and had such a bad headache that I couldn't even eat anything other than a little bit of soup. The only good thing about the day is that it's done. We found a cheap, quiet place to sleep at, and we will have to get up very early tomorrow to visit the canyon.

Monasterio Santa Catalina

October 16, 2005
Day 18

This morning, Morad and I moved to a different hostel. It's nicer than the other one, but I still can't do laundry here, and there are still no power outlets in any of the rooms. I'm trying hard to conserve batter power in my cameras and computer, but I use them so much, it isn't easy.

This afternoon, we went to the Santa Catalina Monastery, which is right across the street from the new hostel. I know going to a monastery sounds pretty boring, but this place is incredible. It was built over 400 years ago and takes up two city blocks. Normally being a nun means no having fun, but their were lots of big parties at Santa Catalina for hundreds of years until 1871 when the Pope sent Sister Josefa Cadena to put a stop to the ruckus. Even then, the nuns still had their own living quarters, with a kitchen and bedroom. What went on inside was a complete secret until 1970 when it was finally opened to the public. Walking through the monastery was like walking back in time hundreds of years. The entire place was like a city within a city with its mazes of streets and houses. I was told it's the only must-see attraction in Arequipa, and now I know why.

After I got back from the monastery, I was able to get some pretty good sunset pictures from the rooftop of my hostel. I also got a shot of an eerie full moon rising above a nearby church dome. Arequipa is at an altitude and latitude that makes the weather perfect year-round, a true Goldilocks city. It is 75 degrees and sunny here every day.

Later on, Morad and I bought tickets to go to Chivay tomorrow. The town is located at the bottom of a valley 3700 meters (12,139 feet) above sea level. It's also where the Colca Cañon starts. I think we'll probably go to Yanque (fitting, I know), which is the next town in the valley, because apparently Chivay is too touristy. We figured we could be more adventurous and save some money by not hiring a guide to go trekking into the canyon.

Arequipa Photos
Monastery Photos