Woke up at 7:30am. We had pancake for breakfast. Yummy! Guess which pancakes I remembered? Yes, the ones I had in Tibet! After this delicious breakfast, we started to walk.
This group of people were very nice. They would stop and wait for the others. We had an old couple from France. Their pace was the same as mine. I was glad. We were always the slowest. Actually, sometimes they walked even faster that I did. How lame I was, I know.
We arrived at Paraiso Lodge. It looked very nice. It was at a gorge. There were plenty of flowers and there was a swimming pool. The lodge was very simple. There was no electricity. My room was surrounded by flowers. I couldn’t use my phone too much because there was nowhere for me to charge the battery.
Some of us jumped to the pool and enjoyed. I was probably the only person who couldn’t go to the pool. The Italian shouted to me while he was in the pool. I couldn’t shout back, ‘I can’t. I have my period.’ If I did, the guys would be quite embarrassed.
Lunch time – food was never good here except for the pancakes in the morning.
What was the time now? I took off my watch when I arrived at this lodge. ‘It is hammock time.’ as said by Helen, the backpacker that I met in Cuenca who went to spa with me. This lodge was really nice. I hope it would not rain. I didn’t mind the clouds. I took a shower before lunch when there was still sun. It started to drizzle not long after my shower.
The last day of my Colca Canyon trip.
The Italian guy, Mattia, was so funny. He always joked and made us laugh. A Peruvian guy from a village yesterday thought he was from Africa because he had that Afro hairstyle. LOL!!! His partner, the Canadian backpacker, was also funny too. We had so much fun.
I woke up at 4:15am. Before I closed my eyes last night, I thought to myself that was how blind people felt – if they were born blind, it wouldn’t be scary to them. Otherwise, it would be very scary.
It was raining very heavily last night. In fact, there was a river close to our lodge so I couldn’t tell whether the noise was from the river or from the rain. It was just like the time when I was camping in Abel Tasman National Park long time ago in New Zealand or when I was staying at a lodge in Malaysia.
Life should be like this – you wake up when the sun rises and sleep when the sun goes down. No electricity. ‘Who needs it?’ said the Canadian backpacker, Ivan.
I woke up. Turned on my torch. Lit the candle. I really liked this lodge.
We gathered at 5am. and got ready for the trekking again. It was still dark. There was no breakfast that morning. I remember I ate some crackers while I was walking.
It was a three-hour hike. It was foggy in the morning but the fog actually helped. I don’t like the sun too much when I’m trekking. It is too hot. I could still see the dew on the grass as I hiked. A dog followed us and said goodbye to us. I really didn’t mind dogs but I did mind their fleas. That Italian guy always hassled me about dogs. Perro perro. He always looked for a perro to talk to. Argh! On the first day, there were two dogs in the lodge. Apparently they had fleas. They came to me looking for food. And I shouted of course. At dinner time, one of them came again it was a huge dog. It was raining outside so when it came close to our dining table, it shook the rain off from its body. It did it right behind me while I was eating. So I screamed. The Canadian guy sitting beside screamed too when I did so and he backed a little and the American guy who sat beside him backed a little and said ‘yo’. A domino effect. Haha. It was so funny. The Italian guy said ‘oh I paid two soles to the dog to do that.’ Argh! So annoying. (I think I wrote that in my previous blog. It’s ok, if you haven’t read it.)
Anyway, while I was trekking, I concentrated on the path. Because of the fog, it was a bit muddy. Occasionally, I saw some mules’ poo. Sometimes I just didn’t know where to put my feet on – the little stones or the poo. I’d rather step on the poo than putting my life in danger. Very fortunately, I didn’t need to step on the poo. Once I lost concentration, I lost balance. I’m not good at balancing as my paragliding coach said. The thing that I learnt from this trekking trip is that I have to concentrate on one thing. No distractions at all. And no matter how slow I was, I would reach the top like everybody else. And the pace had to be even. I had to keep the same pace all the time. I just couldn’t stop. Once I stopped and then continued again, I would be very tired. My heart would also beat very quickly. I realised it too when I was doing the 1,700 steps at Machu Picchu. In fact, some of the tips were given by the guide at Machu Picchu.
Sometimes the heat came up from the ground but it was good that we started very early so it wasn’t too hot and the heat didn’t last too long.
Stones and more stones. Poos and more poos. Smelly. Sometimes the mules would come carrying passengers, tourists or goods. They pooed while they walked. I could see the fresh poos on the ground. (So many poos in this blog that I decide to tag this word. LOL!)
Uphill, uphill and uphill.
My heart was throbbing.
I could feel it in my throat.
I didn’t actually look up to see the destination – the trees – at all. I just walked and walked. I was glad this group of travellers were so considerate. They waited for us, the slow walkers.
I couldn’t believe that my pace was the same as the 71 year old French guy Jean in our group. I was 71 years old back then and now in 2022, I should be 81, if I could live that long. Wait, so Jean should be 81 now. I wish he is still healthy and fit.
I didn’t even have time to take pictures. I just focused on the trek. When I took a rest for a sip of water, I would look at the scenery. I would take a few photos to record how foggy it was. But it was as bad as the time when I was in Norway.
I heard the couple Delia and her boyfriend Nick said ‘here’s the famous tree’ – our destination. I was happy. Finally! And then I heard Mattia’s voice cheering for the others. ‘Go Panama! (Delia is from Panama) Go Panama!’ That was so nice of him. He was so full of energy. So positive. When I nearly arrived, they cheered for me too. When I reached the top, travellers from other tour groups cheered for me. That felt great. I was glad I was with them. I wish they were with me at Machu Picchu.
During the hike, we met some other travellers from other countries. I didn’t know how they could still talk. I was catching my breath.
We then took a rest. The tour guide said they should let me rest for a while. The others didn’t complain. I really really appreciated it.
After the rest, we continued to walk. Delia was so tired that she couldn’t move her legs. I was too. My legs were numb.
The path was flat as we continued. We went to a little town to have breakfast. Scrambled egg (one only) and bread and jam. Es todo. I thought we would have more. I ate some biscuits afterwards.
The restaurant was playing some old songs. When they played Alanis Morrisette’s song, the Italian guy was happy. He liked her. I knew a lot of guys who liked her and I like her too. And then he learnt the word ‘chick’ from Nick (Nick was a teacher). He said, ‘oh Alanis is a nice chick.’
And then the TV started playing Backstreet Boys’ songs. The guys started to talk about the boy bands, giving negative comments about all these boy bands. Mattia even imitated Backstreet Boys. He stood in the centre of the second floor of the restaurant (there were no other people except us and a few other tourists), danced like Backstreet Boys and then when he saw me laughing so much, he looked at me and continued to sing, ‘tell me why, ain’t nothing but a heartache, tell me why, ain’t nothing but a mistake, tell me why…’ I couldn’t stop laughing. Even the staff at the restaurant laughed. That was so funny. It was so much fun to have him around (I later realised a Japanese girl I met at the jungle trail had also met Mattia in South America. What a small world! She also said he was a funny guy.) It was so fun to see him sing. His beard and his Afro hairstyle… LOL! In fact, he had a very nice voice and he didn’t sing off key. One of the girls from the other tour group said he should join a boy band. And then he says he would group with Ivan, Nick and Jean. LOL! So funny. And I would be the fan, holding the banners screaming. LOL!
On our second night, he was talking about the spaghetti (spaguetti – he saw that on a menu and tried to pronounce it. There were 3 different spellings of the word ‘spaghetti’ on the same page of the menu.) It wasn’t tasty at all but he said ‘oh, mum’s cooking’. LOL! And he pretended to look as if he really enjoyed it. LOL!
We spent time talking after eating and singing. I learnt that my tour company overcharged me 25 soles. Mattia said, ‘we have money but we are not rich.’ When he wasn’t joking, he could be serious. We also talked about our next destinations. Some of them were travelling up north while some like me were travelling down south. My next stop would be Argentina, ‘I don’t want to spend Christmas alone’ I said. Then Mattia said he didn’t want to spend Christmas alone too so he decided to travel to Chile (I think) where he had a friend. And then we talked about the end of the world and some other things.
After breakfast, we grouped with other tourists and got on a bus. We arrived at a little town. I saw a church and went in.
We could try coca sour – another version of piscal sour but they used coca instead. I tried one sip… I was glad that I didn’t buy it. I didn’t like it that much.
We went to a lookout point to take some photos.
The bus took us to the hot spring. I didn’t get in as I had my period but even if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t. It cost an extra 15 soles. Too much. And I had enough in Ecuador. I followed Mattia and Ivan and went in to the hot spring but we didn’t enter into the pool as we didn’t get the ticket. They tested the water in the channel in the hot spring. The smell of the whole area was like Rotorua in New Zealand – sulphate. The water in the channel was very hot. Ivan teased me again ‘you want agua caliente? That’s it’. Why did guys like to hassle me? Argh!
They found a place to sit down. The rock was quite warm. The rain clouds were coming. They were talking. I heard Mattia saying to Ivan, ‘I can’t imagine waking up tomorrow morning without seeing you’. I turned and smiled to them and then stood up and excused myself. As I walked around the area, I saw Nick and Delia at the entrance and then a chapel beside the road. I said hello to Jesus.
After some travellers finished enjoying the hot spring, the bus took us to a restaurant for lunch. 25 soles for a buffet. Ivan said it was worth it so we all paid for that. We ate so much. We just devoured our food.
It suddenly rained very heavily. The rain drops went through the cracks of the ceiling and dripped on our plates. We were like refugees moving hurriedly to another table with our food. (There were so many funny moments in this trip.)
When we finished our lunch, the rain stopped. Nick and Delia came to say goodbye. She gave me her email address after breakfast. It was so nice of her. They took the other bus.
Our bus took us back. We went past the mountains. The weather changed so quickly. It was snowing on the mountains. So cold. But it was so nice.
Almost everybody slept.
I told the French couple that my father was 78 and he was still hiking every day. They were impressed.
So we arrived.
We said goodbye to each other.
You don’t get to meet people that you click that often.
But that’s the life of a backpacker. Actually, that’s life. C’est la vie.
I still miss this bunch of people, in 2022. If you happen to know anybody I mention here, please share this blog with them. I’d love to get in touch with them.
I went back to the hostel in Arequipa and got my room sorted. Went out and bought my dinner from my favourite Mamut and then went back again. I had a very hot shower in my room. It was a twin room. Two beds. Huge! I was happy.
There was a children’s choir singing in the main square. They reminded me again that Christmas was coming.
Post Colca Canyon trekking trip
I decided to take a break today. My legs were very sore. I needed to pay for my hostel to the school. I didn’t know why I needed to pay the school but I didn’t ask.
I wanted to do a foot massage. When I went to the school, I asked the teachers about it. They recommended a place to me but that cost 35 soles for only 40 mins. So, I checked out the one that the information centre recommended to me. It was an association for the blind people. I guess I should support them. It was also a good chance for me to practise my Spanish because I couldn’t rely on body language. I had to speak Spanish. The masseur was very nice. She tried hard to massage my legs. Camino, camino y camino. That was why my legs were dolor. She touched my face to ‘see’ me. She said I was bonita y simpatica. LOL! I said no bonita pero simpatica, si. LOL! Oh, my broken Spanish. She was very nice. She said I was her Amiga.
I paid her a 50 soles note and she asked me what that was. I told her. I was glad they had a little kid in the shop who was not blind to help them check the payment otherwise they would be cheated very easily. They didn’t have a change so she asked that little kid to go to a store to get the change. There were two customers there. They paid their 25 soles so that I could get the change. People were very nice. I guess under normal circumstances people are nice. It is just that when they face really big temptations, they cheat. Too bad. But these are one of the seven sins. But there are also seven virtues that people have that we can’t ignore.
After the massage, I walked to the supermarket. On my way, I bumped into Jean and Nicole. I told them about the massage and concert for tonight etc. and then we said farewell. That was really a final farewell as I would fly to Argentina and they would go to Chile.
I made instant noodles at the hostel. I didn’t know what happened but I had stomach upset after that. I got an SMS from my Spanish lesson ‘classmate’ from Germany. She said she would go to the concert with me. Cool!
The concert was disappointing. I thought it would be children’s choir but no. It was sung by adults. And I expected them to be professional but no, they were not. One of them sang off key! I couldn’t believe it. The woman ruined my favourite Oh Holy Night. But that was free so that’s fine. My classmate was disappointed too. Oh well.
After the concert, I bought a pollo sandwich from Mamut again. This time they didn’t make me wait. That was good. I wanted to tell the staff that I would leave the city tomorrow. But I didn’t. They were busy and they probably had seen people come and go many times anyway. I liked one of the waitresses there. She came and helped me when she saw me checking the dictionary the second time I went there.
20 December 2012 – at the airport
Took the taxi to Arequipa airport for Santiago, Chile. Would head to Buenos Aires tomorrow. Would need to sleep at the airport tonight.
Good that a restaurant opened until late in this Santiago airport. Tired. No appetite to eat. Wasted the money and the food. It was a grilled salmon dish.
21 December 2012 – airport and Buenos Aires
I read on the Internet and even a Chilean told me the restaurants at Santiago airport wouldn’t open until late. I guessed the airport had improved. I went to a restaurant for dinner at 9pm and stayed there until 5:30am. People here didn’t chuck me out of the restaurant and I got to use their wifi. A waiter came to ask me if my phone had connection to the Internet. Then I asked him for the wifi password. That was such good service. For the whole night, the airport had not been quiet for a minute. There were people all the time. The restaurants and shops at the airport opened until late, if not 24 hours. True. My Chilean friends were correct. The airport was safe. At least staying inside a restaurant for the whole night was fine. And I used the baggage storage service. I didn’t need to stay in a hostel although sleeping in a restaurant was not fun at all. Another good thing was they accepted USD. The rate may not be good but at least I didn’t need to change any Chilean money just for this one night. The baggage storage gave me Chilean money when I gave them USD10 (my baggage storage cost USD5) but I got some local money to buy water from the shop.
Anyway, it was a tiring night but thank God I was ok.
I’d see what would happen when I arrived at Buenos Aires.
People were talking about the end of the world on Facebook. There was no sign yet. I guessed Jesus wanted to give us some more time to repent so He wouldn’t come yet.
Arrived at Buenos Aires. My new friend I met online through WCCM had problems with her new car so she couldn’t pick me up from the airport. My plan was to stay in a hostel for one night and clean myself before I see her. I went to a cafe at the airport to use their wifi.
A Chinese girl approached me and asked me if I was going to Antarctica. I told her I might. I would see if there’d be any good last minute deals. She then told me she was going there today. Then we started a conversation. She worked in the US and was just taking a vacation now. She showed me how to download Skype so now I had Skype. (I was really old school like I said previously). After that, I checked the hostels. I found one fairly cheap one on tripadvisor but it turned out to be quite expensive. It was only one night so that’s fine.
I took the shuttle service as suggested by the hostel. I didn’t have a good night sleep at the restaurant so I hit the hay very quickly.
17 – 21 December 2012
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