I took the 6 hour bus ride from Arequipa to Cabanaconde, had lunch, and was on my way down the canyon to San Juan de Chuccho by 12:30pm. I made it there in only 2.5 hours instead of the 4h they said. I followed the trail until it got to a bridge but there was no bridge on the map on the way to Coshñirhua so I thought I missed the turn to go up and started back up a not so great trail knowing I was supposed to go up in order to get to the next town. By 4pm I was really lost and getting worried and I finally ran into an old couple in a field. The man, Modesto, told me that the map was wrong and that I had to go back down, cross the bridge & go up again to get to the town I wanted to go to or continue up where I was going to the town of Tapay. Since Tapay was closer, I decided to go there. He walked w/ me, guiding me for a good 20min. then left me where it was a straight shot up to the town. Thank God for him! I continued up the hard uphill road and ran into a guy who was coming up from Cosñirhua who took me to a restaurant/hostal. I got my dinner - Friday soup, alpaca steak (yes, not beef), humita & almost a whole avocado & my room for 20S (less than 7USD). I was pleased. I worked on my photos and got help from 2 little local girls then was in bed by 8:30pm - exhausted.
The next morning I was on my way by 6am. Luckily, I followed the route and managed not to kill myself on the dusty, rocky, slippery way down despite some stumbles. At least there were some nice waterfalls near the river. I made it to Coshiñhirua before 7am and walked right through it to the next town w/out seeing much of anything awake or moving. There I stopped at a place that was a hostel/museum & got a great explanation of the clothing, utensils & etc. of the Quichua in that area. It was 7:50am by the time I started down to the oasis and I made it there before 9am but decided not to take a dip in the pools or anything because I didn't feel like changing back & forth & I was worried about how long it would take me to climb up & I didn't want to miss the 2pm bus. The pool looked nice but I didn't see anyone else & decided not to risk the time. It was a grueling walk up to Cabanaconde. I saw about 5 different caravans of burros as well as 2 guys bringing down bed mattresses tied to their backs & heads! What a workout! I reached the top of the canyon around noon and was sooooooooooo happy, thinking that the hard part was over. However, somehow I mixed up the trail back to Cabanaconde and ended up walking through a farm and got attacked by cactus. I actually had a cactus sticking out of my leg! It hurt and was scary! Luckily I managed to pull it out w/out too much of a problem - just a little bit of blood. I finally got onto the regular road back to the town & back to the restaurant where I warned an American couple from Oregon about my adventures in the canyon. I made the 2pm bus w/out a problem but was accompanied by 31 noisy 5th & 6th graders from Chivay who had been there for volleyball & soccer competition and won. There were 2 girls in front of me who sang a bunch of Mexican ranchera songs who were cute and interesting for a while but 2 hours was more than enough. When we finally dropped the kids off in Chivay my stomach really started to hurt. The bus ride back to Arequipa was awful. The ride was so bumpy and uncomfortable that I just lay across the seats whimpering. Luckily I managed to make it to the bathroom in my new hotel in Arequipa before puking my guts out. Sigh… Never a dull moment… Me and my adventures…