We arrived in Arequipa and went to stay in the Wild Rovers which was an Irish hostel and had some home comforts on the menu which was great so I indulged in a veggie breakfast... ooh beans, eggs, toast and more I was in heaven haha. Arequipa is overlooked by 3 massive mountains El Misti at 5822mtrs, Chachani 6075m and Pichu Pichu 5571 mtrs. It's a real pretty sight. After a power nap Ellen and I headed into town for a look around Arequipa and to book a tour. I was keen to do a 2 day trek but sensibly I decided not to as I knew my ankle was not up to it. I opted for a 2 day tour of the Colca Canyon but it would mainly be on the bus. It only cost like 60 soles which is like 12quid or something. So far all of the main cities in Peru have these really cute squares all called Plaza de Arnes I believe after the Spanish. I really need to read up on my history. This one was more of a brown colour as opposed to the white in Lima but still very artistic.
The next morning I woke Ellen for her 3am call. I was not sleeping great and some girl and guy decided to have very loud sex which I think kept most of the hostel awake. I woke at 7.30 for my pick up. I was waiting on the step waiting for my lift when I was watching some sort of disagreement or something happening. There was this guy lying on the floor and about 5 over him. Anyway two headed down the road and one leaned in towards me like as if to kiss me. He was clearly drunk and I ducked out of the way. The girl from reception came out and spoke to him and told me to wait inside. It was so early in the morning for this sort of behaviour going on. Anyway I eventually got on the bus and I met a guy who I recognised from Trujillo and also Nazca and we got chatting. He is called Martin and from Buenos Aires and such a sweetheart. We spent the next 2 days sitting beside each other and I practiced some Castellano on him. There was about 30 on the tour and it was a real mix of people but all were really friendly. We headed for a few hours drive up towards Chivay and stopped a few times at lookouts looking at the gorgeous scenary, we saw some Llamas and pacos as well in the wild. We stopped at a few places where local women sold items, there were a lot of paco wool items. We did a stop where we were just under 5,000 metres above sea level so really high up. It was the Mirader De Los Andes Tramo de la Cordillera Volcanica en los Andes Centrales. We were given coca leaves to chew on so this might have helped. A few others on the bus felt terrible. I felt ok thank goodness but I did get a headache later on. A pparently its very natural when its your first time at this altitude but other then that I felt normal,I headed for some lunch with Martin and I tried alpaco meat which was very lean and tasty. Later on we went to the hot pools which were awesome, they were about 38 degrees and situated outside with the mountains surrounding us.. very cool. Ellen had texted me and she was not well and had to leave the trek and was staying in a different town. I felt so bad for her but could not really do anything.
We headed for a dinner that night and I was with a mix of Latin American, Spanish and French so I was trying to practice and listen to the Spanish. In the background a Peruan band were playing some music in their multi colour items of clothing and using guitars, mini guitars and some sort of flutes and drums. Then a girl and guy preformed a few different dances. They got a few of us involved in the routine. One of the routines consisted of us dancing around with a lemon and being smacked as we laid on the floor. If honest I did not totally understand this routine but it seemed like it was some sort of way of courting. It was highly amusing and they also got these uptight Germans dressed up in hats and clothes (looking a bit femanine) so it made me laugh my head off. It was a really enjoyable night and it was fun to experience it.
The next morning and a 5.30am wake up call later we headed towards the Condor Cross which overlooks the Colca Canyon. On the way we made a few stops and one was called Maca which was a cute little town and had a beautiful church in it. With the stunning mountains in the background and a horse grazzing away it really was a stunning picture see above. There were some people on their stalls with more paco wool. There was also a man with this beautiful bird like an eagle and people posed with it. A woman with a baby, adult llama and an eagle and young child were there as well and it was interesting to watch. We made a few other stops overlooking another little town. The Colca Canyon is supposedily the second deepest canyon in the world and it was spectacular. Down in the canyon there are condors that fly around and we could see one but it was very far down. Martin and I did a walk down to the other lookouts and I must admit I was breathless by the time we got back the stairs. It was quite a hot day and combined with high altitude it took my breath away. But it was so peaceful and beautiful to sit and just overlook the canyon. All you could hear was the rivers below and some waterfalls. It was just so tranquil. We then made our way back to Chivay and did a few more stops at more lookouts. A group of us had some lunch and then we headed back for the descent back to Arequipa. On the way back the bus broke down twice and I was not sure when we would make it back for but somehow the bus prevailed and I got back to the hostel for 7ish. We were getting the bus at 8.30 so it was a bit of a rush but we made it which was all good.
We arrived in Cusco on Tuesday 22nd March after a 11 hour bus ride. We met back up with Martin and shared a taxi to Yamanyas hostel which was recommended to us. We had to wait a few hours to check in so I had some breakfast and read. Ellen got in the room quicker for a sleep. Later on we headed to the square for a look around and for some dinner. 3.50 soles bargain 2 course dinner later and bargain time. We went back to the hostel and took part in a salsa class. It was so much fun and I gave my ankle a great work out (well not so good as it hurt the next day) but it was really good fun. I was going to head to Machu Picchu on the Thursday with Martin for 2 days. We would stay in Aguas Calientes on the Thursday and get up early Friday to hike up to Machu Picchu for 2 hours.. So it would not be to tough on the ankles. Ellen was planning on hiking for a few days.
The next morning Ellen was not feeling great so we went to the hospital. They wanted to keep her in for observation and to do some tests. We were not sure if it was the altitude that was making her sick or a delayed concussion from when she fainted and hit her head a few days prior. Anyway the hospital were really great and did several tests on her and treated her with oxygen. She is not getting enough oxygen to the brain so it can be very serious if she carries on climbing to higher altitude. So we have stayed in the hospital for the 2 days and are awaiting Aimee who arrives on Saturday. Hopefully we can head up to Machu Picchu on Sunday for the 2 days. This is where we are up to at the moment and hopefully she will be ok to be released tomorrow. They suspect its altitude sickness and they are going to see what happens tomorrow when they take her off the drugs. We are really hoping she will be ok and can continue the trip with Aimee and I. I did some reseach and Bolivia has some really high altitudes so it can be to dangerous if she was to continue through the mountains.. Especially Puno which is up to 5,000 metres high. Anyway we will see what tomorrow and the next few days bring.