Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas in the white city

Arequipa, the other white city of South America although I have to say Sucre beats it. I found it much more on the grey side and so definitely didn´t get my white Christmas! But Arequipa does win the prize, surprisingly, for best sunsets (the clouds turn crazy colours, the whole city is bathed in pink light and the volcano Misti a beautiful pastel mountain on horizon) as well the best chocolate (local dark truffles worth the $$). Otherwise... the night bus there was awful again, we got seats on the 2nd floor right up front and for the first half hour got to enjoy the view and crazy driving but after so hard to sleep with the lights and absolutely no leg room. Plus they said there was a toilet but of course it was broken, I´m so used to things not working or not existing now even when they tell you they do. We were told the hostel we reserved had a full kitchen (but it was oven-less, I improvised with that delicious microwave cake), a DVD player at the reception to rent (nope!) and was cheaper too. We were also told it would be no problem to do the Colca Canyon on our own, there were collective taxis and lots of buses.... ha ha
So the first day after recuperating from the bus journey Simone and I.... didn´t really do anything. Good cheap mixed juice at the market, asked about tours to the canyon, got tickets from the bus station, internet... oh and then went for a delicious falafel w/roasted veggies for dinner. That might have been the day´s highlight...
Up real early and off to catch our bus... that although we had already bought tickets wasn´t going? And the bus company people weren´t showing up? %&@"*!! I was so incredibly annoyed, I mean who does that? That would NEVER happen at home! After they assured us when we bought tickets that of course it was going, every day at 7. So we had no choice but to take the next bus at 9, 2 hours stuck in the busy terminal with the most annoying cryers yelling out the bus destination ¨juliaca, juliaca, juliACAAAA!´ like if the only job requirement is yelling a name over and over again at least hire someone without an annoying voice, how awful. That combined with the squeakiest version of ´feliz navidad´ being repeated every few minutes we broke down and escaped to the internet for an hour just to preserve a bit of sanity. Long bus ride to Chivay across barren desert landscape, looked just like Atacama with vicuñas and all. Chivay - Little nowhere place that no the buses to Cabanaconde only go in the early morning or late afternoon, not every hour. Adjust plans again, no time today to do anything. Sat around in Chivay, tried alpaca for lunch and this omg, grossest soup ever! In Simone´s words it was ´cow diarrhea soup´, we just picked out the veggies and left the dark thick gloopy broth, gag.
Most packed bus ever to Cabanaconde on the canyon edge, made it just in time to hurry to the viewpoint and take a few photos in the dusk light. Cheap hostel with nice volunteer from Mexico. Up super early the next day to walk to the viewpoint again and then to catch the 6:30 bus which became the 6:50 bus after spending a hlaf hour cramming as many people as humanly or really non-humanly possible on to the bus. Took us an hour to go 15km as people would get off every km. Got to the Cruz del Condor and there was almost no one left standing. Hurried down to a viewpoint to wait and wait for hope of a glimpse of this magnificent bird, but low season for them so chances are not great. But we saw one, amazing gliding around below us, just gorgeous and so graceful with like a 2 metre wingspan I think. And the canyon itself is awe inspring as well, although quite barren, it´s just so huge. Deeper than the Grand Canyon (though apparently not quite as impressive) but so rocky and steep. Waiting around there for over 2 hours, saw a nice eagle as well and then hopped on the next bus back to Arequipa at 9:30, the afternoon one was booked full because of christmas and the night one would have been packed, an absolute nightmare so we skipped a canyon hike and just decided to get back, we´d seen it and by this point we were just so ready to be off the road, we really just went for something to do. Another long bus ride back with this annoying kid his mom was trying to pass off a 5 year old (try at least 7!) so he didn´t have to pay for a seat and just wandered up and down and kept calling me ´tia´(aunt) and then asking about the snacks (aka my lunch) I had in my bag so I had to eat very sneakily. Got back late in the afternoon and met up with Corinna again. Went to a nearly viewpoint to see the city and volcano at sunset then to the mall, crazy holioday shoppers but not quite as insane or commercial as home, really never felt the holiday spirit at all, it was so weird. Though I did have a moment when they were playing skate canada on the flatscreens in the electronic dept... really missing home and just sick of living out of a suitcase. Got Chinese food for dinner, cheap and quite good, though different, first time I had tried it down here even though ´chifas´ are everywhere.
Christmas eve day... Christmas for the Germans so we ´celebrated´ that day... Shopping all morning running around the market getting almost everything we needed from the stalls, quite the adventure, quite exhausting. Dump it all at the hostel and then spent some time in the internet so they could call their families. Back to cook and cook and cook! Wow, we are amazing chefs, not bragging, just the plain truth. We made fresh fresh salad, brocoli cream soup with cheese and spagetti with paprika chicken (that I had to butcher!), mushrooms, onions and garlic in a cream wine sauce. Fantastic. We were so full after the first 2 courses we only had a bite of the third and then just skipped making dessert at all. After digestion, went to the cathedral for 8pm mass. Nice music but I didn´t understand much of the sermon, just nice to relax and people watch. At the end the bishop carried a big baby Jesus doll all the way down the church to the flashy nativity scene set up at the back and placed it in the cradle with everyone crowding around and many carrying other dolls or gifts to leave there. Interesting...
And back to have a hot chocolate (they were giving out free hot chocolate to the street people that sell cigarettes, gum and candy and it just smelled so good) so we made ourselved real south american hot chocolate with boiled milk, cacao paste, cinnamon, cloves and brown sugar. And dipped some paneton (aka easter cake, a huge sweet bread with bits of candied fruit eaten during the holidays here) in it. After we wanted to watch a movie and be depressed but no dvd player and our weeks of attempting to secure ´Love Actually´ were in vain. We must´ve asked a million dvd sellers ´no tiene la pelicula realmente amor´? always no... everything but! So we went to the other hostel down the street were there was supposed to be a party but it was pretty low-key, however chatted to some really nice people and got to watch the city explode in fireworks at midnight, 360 degree fireworks going off everywhere for at least 20 mins. Just in the street, just maybe a bit on the risky side? But it wouldn´t be SA if it was safe!
Christmas morning... stockingless, familyless and giftless, bah-humbug. Tried to make the best of it, made amazing crepes even without a recipe, yes I rock. Fresh mango! (there now are you jealous?) To the internet to call my family, miss you all!! And then back to, surprise! More of those amazing chocolates in my shoes! Crazy Germans, thank-you girls so much =)
y que mas... relaxed on the terrace and had leftovers for early dinner with microwave cakes since we skipped dessert the night before. Rush off to the bus, night bus to Lima. Cruz de Sur, much nicer bus company and I actually slept, plus, best of all they played one of our movies for us!
Woke up in the morning to a dessert of sand dunes under thick fog, pretty cool. And am now in Lima just biding my time until the 26hour bus ride tomorrow to Guayaquil.
About ready to be back! No more Christmas trees of flower pots or bottles, no more latino santa clauses and most of all no more awful versions of feliz navidad!!
Ok, ok, I´m still happy and loving life but just need to get off the road. Lima is huge, grey, polluted and pricey. At least I can finally wear shorts again!
And this computer won´t read my phone so no pictures today. But almost back to my laptop and will post a bunch! Happy holidays =)

1 comment:

  1. Miss you too sis!
    I can't wait to join you in a month :)