Welcome back to Peru!
26.07.2008 - 11.08.2008 18 °C
It's nice to be back in Peru. As chaotic as it is, it is still more chilled than Bolivia.
From La Paz, Bolivia, Josh and I headed to Puno, Peru. Puno is right on the shore of Lake Titicaca. One of the main attractions there, besides the lake itself, are the floating Uros Islands of the Uro people. This indigenous group many years ago were in constant threat of Incan attacks, not to mention the Spanish later on. They had always used tortora reeds for making boats but they decided, to be safe, they would make huge floating reed islands, far from the shores of Lake Titicaca, and live on them. They have lived that way since then even though there are no "pure" Uros left. Every year they pile new reeds on top of their islands as the ones on the bottom rot away.
The Islands were so interesting to visit. Walking on them was soft and springy. The children there will probably never experience a scraped knee! Many Islands contained just one extended family and they rely heavily on tourist dollars now for survival. Many inhabitants sell handicrafts and rides in their reed boats and the children sing songs for tips and candy.
After Puno, we headed to Arequipa for a second time. It is a nice city where you can buy a huge plate of Chinese food for just over a dollar! That wasn't our main reason for returning, however. We wanted to hike in the Colca Canyon -2nd deepest canyon in the world and more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the United States! Our trek was only three days in total. The first day we hiked deep into the canyon and slept in a small village. The villagers grow lots of fruit that cannot be grown outside of the canyon because of the altitude and colder climate. The second day we hiked to the bottom of the canyon to a glorious oasis! We swam and relaxed in the sun -but only until about 3:30pm-afterwhich the sun disappeared behind the canyon walls! That night, we left the oasis at about 3am to start the long hike UP and OUT of the canyon! We got to the top in time to watch the sunrise. After that, we took a bus to a part of the canyon (Cruz del Condor) where we watched the huge condors playing in the up-drafts from the canyon. It was amazing how close the condors came to us while soaring by.
From Arequipa, we headed to Ica and then the near-by oasis of Huacachina. It is a relatively small oasis completely surrounded by HUGE sand dunes. We spent a couple of lazy days there hanging out by the pool and walking on the dunes. It was such a nice change from the cold weather we were used to. After a couple of days, we headed back to Ica and took a boat tour around the Ballesta Islands. There we saw tons of birds, including Humboldt penguins and pellicans, and lots of sea lions relaxing in the sun. It was a great tour of what is also referred to as the "poor man's Galapagos".
Needing to keep on keeping on, we headed for Lima. Winter in Lima means coastal fog! Even though it is only about 9 degrees from the equator, it was a cool 15-18 degrees during the day and foggy foggy foggy! It was strange to be in a desert that was so muggy! We enjoyed our time there and basically just pigged out the whole time. Because we hadn't had North American food for a while and figuring we wont be in a big, international city like that for another long while, we justified our binge. We ate at Pizza Hut, had massive sandwiches at TGI Friday's, ribs at Tony Roma's and Cinnabons for lunch! We left with our arteries a little more clogged and a few pounds heavier but happily satiated by American food