Grey and gloomy. Welcome to South America! – Lima
The most part of the group arrived around midnight, tired after their many flights and various stopovers. The fun was to start the next morning when we jumped on one of the local buses to a suburb shanty town called Villa Maria. In this part of Lima Quest has a project in a local primary school where they volunteer and also build small wooden houses for those who need it most in the area.
As soon as we were shown to the playground havoc set in and we were bombarded by happy children with an enthusiasm so electric that it woke up us up from our teenage morning drowsiness and instantly had us running around conversing in the international language of tag and football.
Thankfully we had a breather as playtime was over, but not for long as we were given a tour up and around Villa Maria. I feel this is to be a a common factor weaving throughout the whole of our trip! We have definitely learnt to appreciate whatever downtime we have in between our many exciting adventures. We saw the wooden houses previous ‘Questers’ had built, seeing the difference they had made, inspiring us to have our own goes at putting together some walls for a new house.
At this point I like to believe we became professional gringas!
The next morning was an even earlier start, rising before the sun at 4.30 in the morning to leave for our real first stop Huachachina: A beautiful, small town surrounding a tranquil oasis, whilst being surrounded itself by looming gold sand dunes. Here we watched the sun set beyond the never ending desert, bossed the dune buggying, whooping away in a true girl group spirit and shredding the sand on wooden boards. A special shout out to Misha who bombed it straight down and to Emily and Natalie for spectacular falls that didn’t stop them from taking on another run!
After leaving Arequipa at midnight, we took a local bus to Cabanaconde and arrived early in the morning. We wolfed down some breakfast (avocados are everywhere here!) and headed off on the trek. We met an assortment of animals on our way. There was a dog who followed us. He accompanies Peter on treks occasionally, and proved to be a faithful companion throughout. A much loved bag of fleas. In addition we managed to spot a condor.
When we arrived at camp we found a llama called Pepe who was very interested in our food. It got along very well with one of our Quest leaders, Matty (there was a lot of shouting from Matty and spitting from Pepe, or is that the other way round?) We had a dip in the hot springs under the stars and relaxed.
On the second night we experienced an earthquake! It was only a little one, but it was exciting nonetheless. It was then that we discovered that half the group was infected with a tummy bug: the dreaded runs! At first we blamed it on the amount of olive oil that went into the pasta, but decided it was the salami. It was a very long way back up the canyon, which turned into the night trek. However, we managed to bond and still have a good time, with plenty of jokes thrown in too! We will never touch South American salami again.
Next stop: Bolivia!!