Friday, October 28, 2011

Colca Canyon: Day 2

Day 2 started easy enough with a 7 am wake up and this view from my room, a little breakfast and off we go. Todays trek was more of a casual stroll through the valley. We were to walk for 5 hours through a couple towns, Cosniruha and Malata perched on the canyon slopes overlooking the Colca River. There was nothing bus brilliant sunshine and smiles all around. I did learn that this area of Peru has the second most year round sunshine in the world. Along the way Norma was giving us the 411 on the local flora and fauna. She turned over a cactus leaf to show what looked like white fungus. Instead it was an insect (forget the name) that lives on the cactus and the white was a natural sun block. Again, well done Mother Nature. She then explain that these insects are harvest monthly for export to Europe, Asia and America as a main ingredient for make up. We all stared unimpressed until she squashed (read killed) the little bugger and she smeared the brightest red blood I have ever seen. This was used during Inca times as Warrior makeup so naturally we all went on a bug killing spree and did the obvious.

We arrived at Cosniruha which was almost a ghost town as it had been destroyed over the years by earthquakes and rock slides. There were no more than 20 building and the church stood as a testiment of time having been re-constructed many times over the years. Moving along the trail about an hour we entered Malata and were immediately treated to the fermented corn drink Chica. First we had to give thanks to Pachamana (Mother Earth) as all things come from Pachamana. A tip of the glass to give thanks and then the big gulp. I have had Chicha before and it was as good as I remember. We were then treated to visit a museum and were given a great tour by local community elder. Norma was not feeling well so she asked if I could translate for the group which went off with out a hitch to my complete surprise. We could learn so much from this culture about embracing Pachamana and thanking her for giving us so much. I know, its easy for me to say while I am here but lets see if I can evolve towards that direction first before I suggest we all do.

Next and final stop of the day, the bottom of the Canyon and the Oasis at Sangalle. Yuppers those are swimming pools in the photo and Oasis it was. We arrive at 1:00 and by 1:15 we had a water polo game in full swing. Although the day was easy trekking wise, the sun was hot, we were dirty and this was our reward for a job well done. If anyone mentioned the next day and the long trek up they had to buy the beer..Nobody said a word! The oasis was fully functional with Solar Energy although they kept the rooms electricity free, candle power baby! This is the meeting place for all groups in the Canyon on thier last day (There are various 2, 3 and 4 day treks) so there were lots of new faces and people to meet. People from everywhere with great stories of travel in the Canyon as well as South America.

After a great pasta feast we settled into the night with cold beer and other shenanagans like teaching Marco how to play Texas Hold'em. He was a funny kid full of life. He just came over and started chatting away telling us that his mother worked in the kitchen, he like football did I like his hat. Pull up a chair kid, we are going to teach you some very valuable life skills. Three of kind beat 2 pair, Full house beats a Flush. Marcos mother came over to see what the fuss was all about and just smiled, patted Marco on the head and asked us if we were still hungry.  We built a bonfire to end the night, sitting and repeating the staring at the sky from the night before. As an aside Norma did teach us a humbling lesson on gathering firewood Peruvian style and from that moment on she was referred to as Reina de la leña. She smiled and said she like that.

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