Wednesday, February 20 – EXPED BEGINS!
The Brazil group arrived in Lima late that night, checked into the hostel and prepared to meet the Villa Maria group the next day – despite being a man down, spirits were high and the excitement was brewing. Meanwhile on the other side of Lima, the final night party got underway, with secret santa gifts, heart shaped rice and a video to commemorate the fun times we’d had there.
Thursday, February 21
The two groups fused like marmalade on toast, and went for a tour around the Villa Maria project. Brazil team set off to Miraflores, closely followed by the VM group after saying some emotional goodbyes to the volunteers. Had a communal barbecue in the evening, with a briefing on the 6 weeks ahead, leaving us all ‘hungry for the power.’
Friday, February 22
Dreary eyed and ‘smelly mouthed’, we set off towards the Poor Man’s Galapagos, seeing sealions galore, many a Peruvian booby (not Bobbi…) and some of us having the pleasure of experiencing Guano (this time it was Bobbi…look it up). Had our first taste of Ceviche accompanied by mini Pavarotti, before heading to Huacabeepingchina for the night. We felt it was important to break the ice (especially in Eva’s case), with a brief midnight dip in the hostel pool despues de many drinkies. The young wild and free decided the night was not yet over and ventured out again, although felt the repurcussions of this the next morning.
Saturday, February 23
A relaxed morning followed after a few were feeling worse for wear, and we set off for our buggy ride and sandboarding that afternoon. The adrenaline junkie drivers gave us an exciting ride in the buggies, before teaching us the ins and outs of sandboarding on progressively higher and steeper slopes. Some had more success with this than others, special mentions going to Carina and Bobbi’s mammoth speed and Pete’s wipeouts.
Sunday February 24
After a 14 hour bus ride we arrived in Arequipa, bags were packed and prepared for our early start the next morning to go on our first trek in the Colca Canyon!
The Colca Trek:
We left Arequipa at 2:30AM and to<>ok a bus to Cabanaconde, where some of us even had the pleasure of being sat on by Peruvian Cholitas for 6 hours. After a minor setback of losing Emily to a park bench, we started the descent to our campsite, spurred on by the promise of thermal springs – sadly, Pete lied. Upon arrival we rapidly set up camp (it was in’tents’e) while cook team got started on the interesting concoction of the night.
The next day spirits were high at the prospect of a four hour hike and arriving at camp by lunchtime. However, as we were 20 minutes away from our final destination and could taste the smell of victory, disaster struck as a landslide eroded our path and we were forced to hike back down the bottom to find an alternative path.
(We decided the following would be best described in rhyme…)
This change of events had ruined our flow, and now morale was at an all time low. As we walked down to the bottom, our legs felt beaten, but we pulled ourselves together as lunch still had to be eaten. The boys found a water fountain, to ensure adequate supplies to ascend the mountain, we then set off at such great speed, that even the locals had to take heed. With Pete in the back and Rowan in the lead, we quickly accomplished this difficult deed. This is when it became clear to us that we didn’t choose the mountain life, the mountain life chose us. (The wise words of Bobbi)
After an extremely tasty carbonara the previous night, we were fully fuelled for the sprint to the oasis, our campsite that evening, and managed to arrive in time for lunch, even after stopping to see many an Andean Condor flying close by. The boys were content with their American football, while in true English style, the women cooked and made sandwiches….and sunbathed…a lot. We bonded that evening over Belgian scout games and shared in the dread for the hike the next day.
Our last day in the Colca. A beautiful morning was spent in the swimming pool, before a tasty alpaca…for lunch. We began the trek in the late afternoon, with the prospect of our fellow team member at the top spurring us on. Despite the heavens opening for the entire uphill slog, spirits were high due to Deborah’s mastery of trekking songs and the hope of a hot shower at the top…again, Pete lied. The wet rats arrived at the hostel and crashed into warm beds, with an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and geared up for the next trek in Bolivia. Bring. It. On.
Thanks guys, keep us posted!