Peru Expedition 2009 Part Seven: Arrival in Arequipa
18th August 2009 - No role.
5:30am wake up, croissant for lunch made and a 6:15am pile into a minibus and taxi, and we were at the bus station at 6:25am.
An hours wait listening to a woman overhead repeatedly saying 'señores pasajeeeeeeeeros!' and we were on a double decker bus. Except that the bottom was used for luggage and the passengers sat up the top.
We had a long wait and then just after we left the station we had to stop and change buses because of a faulty engine.
It was a very slow journey out of Puno and Juliaca too as they went through the backstreets. The guy would stick his head out the door every so often to yell: "Arequip, Arequip, Arequipaaa!" The door was held shut with just a metal bar... and I was next to the door...! [#safetyfirst]
They also stopped to pick up lots of strange boxes which turned out to be loads of Head & Shoulders and Pantene shampoo sachets and a load of Red Bull too! Weird!!
Our loo stop was four holes in the ground and the cubicle door didn't even come up to my shoulders :/
We arrived in Arequipa relieved and tired about six hours later and then got taxis to the Plaza De Armas. It was about three people per taxi because luggage had to be fit on laps. Once in the Plaza, we split off, some to look for accommodation and others to stay with the luggage.
Libby, Beth, Andy, Kagg, Paul and I all stayed with the bags. One guy advertising Spanish lessons came along and Libby shook his hand with a big splodge of Coco Butter moisturiser on her hand! Weirdly, he didn't wipe it off!
He then proceeded to accuse me of lying about speaking Spanish, so he got the shock of his life when I switched languages. He also thought Beth, Libby and I were related... (Scratches head confusedly).
Beth and Libby then started a game where Libby threw a sweet and Beth had to catch it in her mouth. Most of the time they were successful, but a few hit Andy who was sat on one end of the bags (we were in the middle roughly) and they went beyond too.
Then a couple of us got bored and warbled some 80s tunes. Libby didn't like this so she sat a bit away from us and started talking to a Peruvian man with long hair. Paul put an abrupt end to this.
After many trips to and from a couple of hostels, a few of the girls had found, we settled for two hostels side by side. We had to separate because one only took ten and the other seven (fortunately just right!).
Kagg and I had a sort of attic room which we also referred to as a pizza oven because of the shape of the room and the chimney-like hole in the middle of the ceiling.
There was also a chunk missing out of the corner of the room, so anyone could have crouched down outside and grabbed at my bag (I was nearest).
There were two rooms below us: Maggie and then a room of three rowdy men watching Los Simpsons til really late.
Our hostel owners didn't want the others in for longer than half an hour so for future meetings we met in the other hostel.
At our first one, we got some shocking news: due to our team mate's accident, he had to go home nearly a week early! Meaning he'd miss on our weekend of R&R :( A doctor was going to fly out to accompany him home.
We were all pretty shocked, and not best pleased, but we put on brave faces.
That evening we went to an American-style diner. It was cheap and had good food so we were all happy. Mr O bought five burgers they were so cheap!
Today I invented a game. It's called "hey d'you want to play my game?" because I have no idea what else to call it, and it's especially fun to play in the Plaza De Armas in Arequipa because it has two straight lines of restaurants on either side.
Basically you go along the town ie. the Plaza and every time you pass someone who wants to advertise a restaurant etc, you say "no gracias", copy their hand gesture and keep walking. They either laugh at you or give you weird looks or a frown. Either way it's hilarious fun and keeps you entertained.
[I've also written notes on how to open Peruvian (toilet) doors! "Remember your key!" is a point. You know who to come to if you're ever stuck :P]
19th August 2009 - No role.
1 week left!!
It's so hard to believe how fast this trip has gone and that we will be home this time/day next week!
For breakfast we got to split into our own groups and choose a restaurant we liked with a budget of S/5 each. Then with satisfied stomachs we did a little more shopping and did some research into Colca Canyon tours as most weren't up for trekking it. The lowest tour we could find was S/65 per head, others charged up to S/80.
When we got back for lunch at 1pm, we compared notes and found out one of the hostels organised their own tours over a span of two days for S/53.50 each!
That afternoon we spent looking around some of the markets. They were beautiful! Quite often tucked in corners or in large bazaars where every inch was filled with bright, colourful crafts and goods. Inca Kola t-shirts hung from almost every wall too.
I think because Arequipa is a bigger, better known city, vendors know they can charge what they want to tourists, because there were a couple of vendors we came across who wouldn't budge by even a Sol! Ok, so it's only 20p, but it feels so much more satisfying! We also paid a Sol to get into an artisan craft fair, but it was a bit too far out of a sixteen year old's price range.
Later on back at the hostel, Maggie told us she'd booked us all into a hostel called Los Andes for the last three nights, well two nights because we were leaving at 2:30am on the third night. All night rave!? It'll be interesting to see who can make it til the eleven hour flight back to Madrid with no sleep. We shall seeee!
We then packed some stuff into our day bags for our Canyon tour the next day. The hostel owner made us panic more when we said he wanted our bags before we went to bed! More squeals and groans!
That night we ate on the top sun roof of a great restaurant. It had amazing food for only S/15 per head for a set menu, but they seem to have a nervous habit in general here of drowning salads in oil and vinegar :/ Not so yummy.
Other than that: amazing food! Amazing views! Amazing service!
Maggie wasn't impressed when a few people started playing the 'bogies' shouting game, but changed it to 'la cuenta!' (the bill) instead. It got to the point where Beth shouted really loud and Maggie told her off. Fortunately the waiter and waitress found it amusing.
As we went back along the Plaza, three of us played "my game" and got a lot of laughs out of it. Maggie tried to play too (notice how I said 'tried', but her Spanish accent just wasn't great. She wouldn't make any effort!!).
At our hostel we checked everything and took our bags to be stored.
Kagg and I then sat on their makeshift sun roof and looked out at an incredible view of the streets and house lights. Views like these are one of the many reasons I love to travel. New landscapes :)
Part Eight: The Colca Canyon!