We finally left Cusco after what felt like quite an extended stay and took an overnight bus to Arequipa. I’m pleased to report the bus was not entirely unpleasant! Although I’m not sure our over the counter fake Xanax really did the trick of putting me to sleep. It was only $4 though.
Arequipa. What to say about Arequipa?
Well there was a market, predictably.
Unlike the market in Cusco, along with the food this one sold weird and wonderful offerings and spiritual items including alpaca foetuses. They were rather disgusting looking. I’ll spare you a photo.
Apparently if you are building a house it’s advisable to purchase an alpaca foetus and bury it where you intend to build. For luck I guess?
If you still have an appetite after that the fruit section is cheap and plentiful.
Arequipa also had some amazing hidden courtyards, like this one;
Some were guarded by heavy looking doors.
There were also a few shops selling curious wares that my luggage restrictions would not allow me to buy.
And finally, there were snow dusted volcanoes that were impossible to capture.
Needless to say I won’t be rushing back. Arequipa is a city of one million and the traffic is insane. The constant, incessant and pointless beeping and tooting from the cars almost drove me insane. In the end I couldn’t wait to leave because I just felt so frazzled.
Arequipa is the gateway to the Colca Canyon, where people flock to hike, sit in hot springs, ride bikes and see the giant condors. All tourist buses leave Arequipa for the Colca Canyon at 3am. Yes, 3am. We had no desire to join a jam packed three-day tour so we organised to get a 3am bus to Cabanaconde and figure the rest out for ourselves.
By 6:30am we had reached Chivay, the other (slightly larger) town near the Canyon. We had a very lacklustre breakfast. By 9am we had reached the spot where you sit and wait to see the giant birds known as condors.
If you’re lucky you might see a black speck in the distance. I was very underwhelmed, with the condors and the canyon:
We got dropped at our hostel, Pachamama, in the tiny town of Cabanaconde and went for a walk around the blissfully empty streets.
Being in a quiet, relatively empty town of 3000 was like tonic for my soul. There was only one place to get very dodgy wifi, a couple of shops selling bread a couple of kinds of fruit and veg, locals and lots of dogs.
We grabbed some supplies for lunch and ate up on the roof of our hostel.
Cabanaconde is a farming region and so we were looking down upon stalls of donkeys and sheep.
After a rest we went for a walk to the main square and a small sandy coloured dog came running over to us from about 50 metres away, tail wagging, greeting us like old friends.
We temporarily named her ‘Lomo’ after the Peruvian dish ‘Lomo Saltado’.
Lomo was just the sweetest thing ever.
She accompanied us on a walk around the town. It was so nice to feel like a dog owner again, except when she tried to herd a couple of these sheep. The familiar sensation of ’embarrassed dog owner’ flooded back.
We were met with lots of curious glances along the way.
Along the way we played tug of war with Lomo and an old piece of rope. She charmed us by burying the rope for later, getting distracted and following her nose before running after us again.
It was at this moment that Lomo, devastatingly, ditched us to play with two doggie friends. We called her but understandably she wasn’t well acquainted with her new name! We tried to keep walking without looking back, grateful that she had been our pal for the last hour.
A little way down the road we turned around and this tiny dust cloud was racing towards us:
She raced as fast as her little legs could carry her back to us. It was the sweetest moment.
Reunited, we walked on.
At one point I had the feeling we were being watched…
We went back to the main square and Lomo introduced us to her doppelganger.
Eventually we had to say goodbye and head back to our hostel, but what a magnificent, simple afternoon.
The lesson of the day: spending time in the country with animals is the perfect antidote to a tired, stressed out soul.