That´s right, we had just left Nazca under a hail of bullets. Indie was carrying the golden statue, but when he was hit by the taxi after trying to leap over the local woman selling tapestries, it meant that he was hurt bad. He had been a liability ever since the incident with the butter knife… but that´s a whole other blog.
From Nazca to Arequipa.
We actually left Nazca in a bus, a very plush bus with fully reclining leather seats. (I wish Indie was here, he always liked buses.)
Arequipa is a beautiful, old colonial town and when we arrived it was the start of Santa Semana, holy week, easter week, or, in the parlance of the pagans, time for chocy eggs. This is a time that is taken very seriously in the devoutely catholic South Americas. I mean, who would have guessed there were 14 stations of the cross. I had an argument with one of the very nice ladies that managed our hostal ( read: dignified, white stone, colonial house). I could have sworn there were 12 stations.
We visited a monastery that used to be a 16th Century party house for the daughters of rich Spaniards who became nuns. The nuns had slaves, visitors, artist types and booze for about 100 years until the Vatican sent over a Fire and Brimstone mother superior to clean the place up. (Script for a 16th Century fraternity movie anyone?) Very pretty though:
And then on to the Colca Canyon for 2 days. Again very pretty, lots of high altitude and chewing of Coca leaves and the mind boggling site of a condor in flight.
Looking at the canyon:
hanging with the guide:
Those Condor things are so damn big. They are like the zoological equivalent of a B52 Bomber. They don´t really flap, they float on thermal air currents. We saw five I think, and a couple floated by, only 20 metres from the the viewing spot.
We stayed that night in a little hostal managed by little woman of about 40 who took us on a 2 hour walk into the hills to see some pre-inca ruins. (For those in the know, she reminded me heaps of an older, Qechuan version of Madelin McMahon, she´s the short one in the background)
In the town I was set upon outside a church by some local women getting drunk at 9am for Santa Semana and they cajolled me into drinking their toxic home-brewed spirit from an old 2 litre soft drink bottle, then their kids set upon me for 5 minutes (there was no help from the girls, the guide saved me in the end)
I was also told that wearing a large eagle on your head was the height of fashion in Colca canyon, or that it was better to have a bird on the head than 2 in the bush. I can´t remember exactly:
Some more pics of stuff in Colca canyon:
Anyhoo. Back in Arequipa, the whole city is kind of buzzing for a week over easter. There are services every night and ceremonies in the city square. And I think it is on Holy Thursday that thousands of people throng the streets as they visit 14 churches in emmulation of the 14 stations of the cross (I know, I thought there were 12 too). So I got blessed a few times, then we went for a drink in a bar as the streets slowly filled with underage drinkers and people eating at street stalls. After a drink and on our way back to the hostal, Maryanne and I popped into one more church for a quick looking. We joined the mass of the devout and squeezed through the doors, had a squiz and when we went back outside, Maryanne realised she had been pick-pocketed. She was carrying a few Euros and here c.cards, so there was a bit of a panick. But luckily we got to spend the next day tied up in some more South American bureaucracy for an hour.
Next, fion and the amazing trek to Machu Pichu.