Peru: Day 10 and 11

Tonight I’m choosing to post yesterday’s events and the first part of today. My experience today has been so emotional and life changing that I don’t really have the words right now. I’ll get there. But for now I’ll post the draft I came up with earlier.

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So many feelings right now. As I initially set out today on my trek, I wanted to scream, I’m back baby! Feeling much more confident, my weak moment passing, I was excited to hike down into Colca Canyon to the oasis. More on that in a moment. 

Yesterday I took a day long bus from Arequipa to Cabanaconde. Now, typically this bus is supposed to be 5.5 hours, but it took us close to 8. Upon entering the bus, I immediately knew this bus had seen better days, ha! It was dirty, and old, but there were some other tourists on there with me. 

I settled in for the journey, when about 30 mins in we got a flat. The bus pulled over for them to fix the flat, which took probably 30-40 mins.

Then we were back on our way. I was the only American, that I could tell. There were two guys from France and a few from Australia at the front (I overheard them talking) and quite a few from Lima around me. Once we got rolling again, we probably made at least 20-25 stops along the way. It was really very interesting the locals that we picked up. There were kids, older people, families. It was also interesting the different climates we went through as we headed up the mountain. 

(These women are packing and carrying their stuff to be taken on the bus in the luggage compartment, although not all of them rode with us, I believe two hopped on). 

One of the stops was to get gas. Now, it’s not a normal gas station it’s just a pit stop at the side of the road where they have a funnel and pour gasoline in. A few people got off the bus and I thought I’d quickly run into el bano. Grabbed my tissue (PS, there is never any toilet paper in Peru so carry some with you… Also it doesn’t always go into the toilet but into a bucket). Anyway, I digress. I paid my 50 Peruvian cents (like maybe 15 cents US) and went out back to the outhouse. I was quick, mind you, but I came back out front and the bus was gone. Uh, yeah!! He totally left without me. I looked to the right and saw it driving and off I went running, hailing it down. A few trucks tried to beep at the bus and it finally stopped. Not sure what I would have done since all of my belongings were on that bus and we were in the middle of nowhere. I did have my passport and cash in my pocket, so I probably would have grabbed one of the people there and said “tengo dinero, vamanos” and tried to catch up with it. Anyway, major blessing number 1 for the day and number 8001 for this trip. Also reminder that no one’s taking care of Britt except Britt! Did people notice I wasn’t there? Maybe. Maybe they couldn’t stop the driver because we experienced this later, also, when the bus almost left three people. Luckily for them, they had others with them that stopped the bus. Ha! I’d post a pic but, ya know I was running to catch it so couldn’t really focus on that. šŸ™‚ 

Lots of beautiful sites along the way, including spotting a condor flying through the Canyon, which I will see more of on Monday. Gorgeous views of the Canyon. 

About 2/3 of the way through I got a bloody nose from the altitude (first altitude issue I’ve experienced on entire trip) and the three people from Lima gave me some paper towel and rubbing alcohol. Evidently inhaling the alcohol closes things off and stops the bleeding, and it worked. Thank you to those folks! 
Finally arrived at my hotel after not eating all day around 5 and absolutely murdered a huge piece of lasagna and and bowl of andean soup. 

I am one of the few staying here, because they had to open the dining room for me and I was the only one eating dinner. Granted it was early. The food was very good and hospitality very nice. Bed early for my trek on Day 11.

And this is where we pick up. As I write this, I’m sitting at a hostel in the oasis waiting for a mule to take me back up to Cabanaconde. Now, I knew I was in for a strenuous downhill journey, but this was something else. If I thought observation point in Zion was hard, this was a whole new level. 3 hours straight downhill in rocks and dirt. I fell a few times and my hands blew up to a massive size. My pack holds two liters of water and I was long out before I was done with my hike. Took lots of pics, but this was insane. Major hard on the knees and you have to be super careful. 

Three things went through my mind as I was hiking down:

  1. I’m so thankful to be able to do this now, because I won’t be able to much later in life
  2. How in the hell am I going to get back up? 
  3. My mom would not want to know I’m doing this

LOL!! Mainly number two was my obsession. My original thought (before I ever started) was how hard can it be, and I’m sure I can make it back up the same day. But once I experienced going down and passed people along the way who were much more fit than me, I had to reconsider. Now this was not a happy or proud moment for me as I wanted to do both and to prove to myself that I could. But in this case, I chose smarts against determination (this is where mom would be happy!). While this is not like me, I knew there was no way I’d get back up today. I met a few girls at the top before I started the descent who had trekked up that morning and it took them three hours. More on them later, but they were world travelers and they had only done the hike up, not both. I estimated that it would take me approximately 5 hours going back up because of how tired I was and the sheer altitude change that I’d have to tackle. Even if I only spent an hour at the springs, I’d still be pushing it to get back before dark and I don’t have a flashlight or gear for that. I also faced the limits of my body physically and I finally acknowledged that I couldn’t do it. The other two options were to stay down here for the night and trek back up tomorrow or ride a mule back up. Now I had considered the mule already, but I saw one on his way up on my trek and he looked so tired and I felt horrible for this guy. I thought to myself, how can I spend a week caring for animals and then do this to a mule? It just doesn’t seem right. Unfortunately I don’t have time to stay down here because I am catching a 7am bus tomorrow morning to head to Puno. There is only one bus tomorrow from Chivay to Puno and I need to be on it bc I have already made all other reservations. 

What happens next? Stay tuned… šŸ™‚ 

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