post-title Andean Expedition Team – First update from the field

Andean Expedition Team – First update from the field

Andean Expedition Team – First update from the field

Quest News

So here’s the first blog from the Andean Expedition team….enjoy!

Team in the Colca Canyon

The team in the Colca Canyon…

It all started so well with 7 of us and only 6 bags… Luckily this
was only temporaryand Sureyya´s bag joined us a couple of days later
after its own adventure. After meeting our ´heroic´leaders (they´d had
an early start after a late evening) and settling into the hostel in
Miraflores, we explored central Lima and experienced our first Peruvian
meal which contained Mystery Meat Soup and Gloop for desert (which we
had more fun playing with than eating). Whilst Sureyya and Izzy got lost
shopping (essentials, of course, due to the missing bag) and Izzy´s
first trip to an ATM resulted in great confusion and her being charged
more than she was taking out, the others enjoyed their first glimpse of
the Pacific Ocean and visiting the many food shops. In the evening we
all fell asleep in front of the football after eating the biggest
Dominos pizzas we´d ever seen!

After Alex and Chloe shocked the hostel owners with a swim in the
outsdoor pool- it´s Winter at the moment and the water is frio. We
played bus lottery – grabbing the first bus we found and hoping it went
to the right place- to get to Villa Maria, a shanty town community which
Quest supports. There we were immediately made welcome in the school
and caused havoc interrupting the lessons and playing with the kids
which was fun as they were so happy to see us. James loved his camera
more than the children! Whilst the boys made lunch, the girls were hard
at work hammering planks of wood together to make walls and drilling
holes. Gilly´s GCSE in DT put us to shame as she easily out sawed us. In
the afternoon we completed the building of the house for a family of 5
and transported it to its new position where after taking down their old
house, we reassembled the new, bigger and more airtight one. it was
really rewarding to meet the family whose home we had helped to build
and to know that it would really benefit them.

We only had to return to the hostel once (Pete forgot his phone)
before getting an early bus to Paracas where we had a surprise boat trip
to the Ballestas Islands (Crossbow). There we saw hundreds, if not
thousands of birds: penguins, boobies, Inca Terns, Comorants….as well
as Sea Lions and crabs. Pete was even lucky enough to receive some
guano! We all tried some Ceviche for lunch (including Gilly the veggie
and Izzy who hates fish) which is a traditional Peruvian raw fish dish
marinated with lime, chilli and garlic. We then took a luxurious
minibuse to Huacachina playing I-spy and stealing Tye´s flipflops to
pass the time. We overcooked it a little bit at happy hour drinks before
dinner resulting in a surreal mad hatter´s party in what appeared to be
a living room, not a restaurant. Wearing crazy hats seemed perfectly
normal as we sorted each other into Harry Potter houses:

Sorting Hat = Sureyya
Hufflepuff= Pete and Chloe
Gryffindor = Gilly and Izzy
Ravenclaw = Alex and Tye
Slytherine = Mike and James (Snape)

Following
these shenanigans we went to La Casa de Avena (The House of Porridge)
disco. Some time during this night Izzy came up with a few gems, such
as:
Pete, “Oh it´s a bit chilly out”
Izzy, “I´m really warm”
Pete, “It´s because you´re wearing your beer jacket.”
Izzy, looking at her arms, “But I don´t have a jacket on…”
and she almost got herself a Quest tattoo on stage.

It
was an early start for Alex and Tye who went for a morning swim whilst
the rest of us recovered. We then had a chilled day by the pool until
sandboarding in the early evening. It was AWESOME! Pete screamed louder
than Gilly and Izzy in the sand buggy which proves how much like a
rollercoaster it was! Some of us were more successful than others at
standing on the boards but Mike´s face plant was the most impressive
fall (and it took him nearly a week to get rid of all the sand!).
Following the excitement of the dunes it was on to a comfy night bus to
Arequipa where Tyrone ‘McNasty, went to the loo an unhealthy number of
times!

We finally arrived in Arequipa where we had breakie and
moved on to trek prep: Tye and Alex dashed around town to fetch (dirty)
petrol whilst Mike and Gilly (the veggie) haggled for some salami and
tried on some hats in the market. On to a mexican dinner where Tye
couldn´t consume anything other than nachos and water…

Trekking the Colca

THE COLCA CANYON TREK

We were entertained from the beginning with a bull fight as we
arrived. It was then pretty much all down hill for the first day with
the reward of hot springs at the end. Day 2 of the trek involved an
uphill scramble and a supposedly short trip without bags to visit the
waterfall which was extended by Pete’s ‘amazing’ orientation skills
which were corrected by an elderly Peruvian who chased us for miles with
his children to correct Pete’s misdirection into the bush bush. The day
was completed with bed time stories from Cosmo courtesy of James which
kept us entertained whilst our dinner was cooking. After an uphill
start, the path on day 3 finished with the perfect downhill for us to
stretch out our legs and sprint the final bit. This was rewarded with a
refreshing dip in the pool in the Oasis at the bottom of the canyon and a
leisurely afternoon in the sun.

Team Camping

Team Trekking

Whilst we waited almost 5 hours for our carbonara (which was worth
the wait) we stargazed in our sleeping bags and witnessed Mike face
planting (again!) whilst jumping in his sleeping bag. On the final day
of the trek, the girls (minus Alex) left early to avoid the sun and not
because they´re slow… Finally, after the 1,000m uphill struggle,
helped by our new dog friends: Branston (who Mike prefers over his own
dog) and Pickle, we reached the top of the canyon and were able to relax
and delve into some BRANSTON! The trek was tough but enjoyable,
brilliant food from Mike and Gilly on the cook team, excellent cleaning
from Alex and Tye on the cleaning team (Tye was so keen he even used his
boxers!) and awesome musical entertainment from Sureyya, Izzy and
Chloe.

After
finishing the trek that morning we thought we´d have a relaxing
afternoon wandering round Cabanaconde and comparing blisters (Sureyya´s
were the worst by far) but that didn´t quite happen… James made some
friends and got us invited into day 3 of a Peruvian wedding party. Our
initiation (which made Tye nearly vomit) was a traditional Peruvian
drink chicha made from maize and fermented using human spit! We joined
in with the dancing, took lots of photos, tried on hats and Izzy even
got a free CD! It was great fun and we felt very priviledged to have
been made so welcome. In the evening we continued to try new things and
tasted our first Alpacca steak whilst watching a DVD in Spanish.

Wedding Crashers

Wedding Crashers

0 out of 3
alarms went off in the morning but luckily we were still able to make it
to watch the Condors from the top of the Canyon. We had front row seats
and saw adult as well as juvenile/baby condors fly really close. Then
we jumped on the bus back to Arequipa. Booking tickets 3 days before
didn’t prevent James sitting on the driver’s knee, Pete losing his seat
to an ancient chileta (Peruvian lady) and sleeping in the aisle, Chloe
being peed on by a lamb and the back tyre being changed whilst we were
still on the bus. We then refreshed ourselves for the night out. We had a
lovely (although touristy) meal with lots of traditional Peruvian food
(including Guinea Pig) and then headed to the Frog bar where we drank
´death of the frog´ which is a once only… Today we are chilling and
exploring Arequipa before we catch the night bus later to Chile. Hasta
Luego Peru!

More Colca Trek

That´s all for now, muchos besos, Gilly and Alex