Monday, 22 October 2012

Higher and Higher and that was Peru!!

I'm writing this on beautiful Lake Titicaca in Bolivia. The sun is shining and the lake looks fabulous, we have a funky hostel with furniture and odd bits and pieces made from shaped wood. It must get cold here as the room has a brick fireplace in the corner. There is a little patio in the garden. I am in seventh heaven as at lunchtime I had a bacon and avocado sandwich........not really traditional Bolivian fare but not had bacon for about 5 weeks!!

Well we left Peru at 7.30 this morning and the border crossing was quite easy. Our last stop was Puno which is the Peruvian side of the Lake and it was awful. A huge big noisy place with terrible traffic, pollution and just a huge big tourist machine for trips on the Lake. The view of the Lake was not at all attractive and there was rubbish and the drains smelt awful. We had planned a bit more time but got out early. Our hostel was fine with a lovely big room. 

We went to the floating islands and it was interesting but once that was done that was it. On the plus side there was a bit of variation in food and I had trout with a bright green spinach sauce last night. The altitude is another 300 m higher and we struggled up 2 flights of stairs at the hostel. So that ends the Peruvian trip.......and sadly it didn't end on a high note!!

But back to where I left off last week........we were in the Colca canyon in Chivay. Chris was struggling with the height and refusing to drink coca tea which is meant to help!! Men !!

Sunday we hired a bike , a little 125cc, and drove to Cabanaconde which is at the other end of the canyon from Chivay. Boy was it hard work, we were driving on washerboard a lot of the time and coming in the opposite direction on the dirt roads were the hundreds of tour buses full of people who had been to see Cruz del Condor. Three hours later we got to Cabanaconde, thinking we might like to stay.......NOT.  Pretty unappealing place, so we had some mediocre lunch of alpaca and chips and set off back to Chivay

The condor lookout is designed for 4-500 people who get up at the crack of 4am to get there for 8-9 am to see them fly. As we got there at about 1.30pm there were three and one was directly overhead. Got only one rubbish photo but watching them through the binoculars was stunning. We were glad to get back to our end of the valley and stopped off in Yanque and had a lovely coffee in the square in a funky cafe run by a man from the big city, Arequipa. I felt like every bone in my body had been shaken up but it was good fun. We had only used half the fuel so we asked Marco if we could have the same bike on Tuesday. It only cost £10 per day , a mountain bike was £7.50!! Chris was still struggling.

Monday I made a picnic and we set off on the collectivo, with all the locals, to Yanque. There were some ancient Inka ruins at Uyo Uyo and it was only a 40 minute walk!! Yeh, if you are a mountain goat, at the altitude and in the heat it took us 1 1/2 hours.

We had brought our swimming gear and then walked down to the thermal springs. We didn't carry enough water and by we got there Chris was feeling very faint. Thankfully 85 schoolboys arrived so we sat in the shade till they finished their swim. The pool only had 2 bottles of liquid left, a corn based drink called chicha morada but it was fluid. We had  lovely peaceful time in the pool, I'd forgotten how much I miss the laguna. To get back we had to walk to Yanque, 25 minutes in the sun. Luckily a collectivo from up the valley was passing so we got that back to town. Filled Chris full of fluids when we got back. The added problem with Chivay is that the air is very dry and it dehydrates you quickly and the sun is savage.

Our host Marina had to go to Arequipa so we had the hostal to ourselves, with responsibility to lock up and let her mum in next morning to make breakfast. She was a lovely woman, so attentive and the pace was spotless. Chris crashed out and I went out to eat and had a pizza and avocado salad which was a huge change from the usual soup (with pasta), rice and potatoes. 

Tuesday we were going biking again but Chris was not well so I packed him off to bed and I got the collectivo to Yanque and visited the church and the little museum. The lady in the museum was lovely and she gave me some herbs for Chris......also another lady told me he should lie with his feet on the wall to help get blood back to the heart. By mid afternoon he perked up a bit.......tried the feet raised but wouldn't have the herbs ( they were foul!!)

Wednesday was biking again, Chris was feeling much better so we biked the other side of the canyon. It was beautiful and much less traffic, and some of it was tarmac!! I wanted to see the restored baroque churches, we did Corparaque, ( lovely place  then Ichipampa, where we had ice cream with a lovely family. The to Lari , which has the "cathedral", and we saw the museum. Lari had a restaurant, and we had only one more village left, Madrigal. It looked closed but the lad who looked after the church said she cooked every day. So I found her in the kitchen and said  was she open and could we come back for lunch after Madrigal.........she said we could but there would be nothing left!! Chris thought this was a sales pitch but as we returned she was closed-good call.......So we had "menu" chicken soup and chicken stew, lovely flavours and set off to Madrigal.

The road was terrible and the village not very appealing but the church was fascinating as it is in the process of being restored, three people are working on the project, it is the last one to be done and they were delighted to show me some of their work as they don't get many visitors. 

The biking took it out of Chris again and it was the afternoon before we stirred and got a taxi to the Chivay hot springs. Lovely relaxing time and then he relapsed when we got back........two nights with no food!! Friday was out last day and we said out goodbyes to Marina and got our mini-bus to Puno........and you know my views on that!!

At one pint I thought we would be re-arranging out plans and missing Bolivia due to the altitude but we are here now. We will have 4 or so days here and there are 2 luxury places that we tried to book for today but they were full so we might try a couple of nights there. 

Meanwhile we will just enjoy the views of the world's highest lake and get used to the change in country, its now 10  Bolivianos to £1 , which makes the maths easy.

Till next time........sorry still no photos uploading too slow !!

Take care Norma xx

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