Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ancient History, Volume XII

At the end of the last installment, we went out for breakfast which included juice that looked like dishwater, and daring Air Force Girl to eat a chunk of butter.

Following the ridiculous breakfast of OMG-I'M-SO-HUNGRY-FEED-ME-NOW, we went in search of posh chocolates, and then to a lunch that lasted until about 3.30pm. But we didn't really care, because the views around Arequipa are pretty spectacular:

From there, we went on a tour of the Santa Catalina monastery, which was at its peak in the 18th century (I think...). It was really pretty, but it made everyone angry. Apparently there were two classes of nuns living there. The rich ones were the daughters of the nobility and paid the equivalent of $150,000 to be there, and had posh stuff and servants. If the servants had children, those children became the nun's personal property. The other class were the poor nuns, who actually felt they'd been called by God to become a nun. These nuns had nothing, and had to beg the rich nuns for use of their private kitchen facilities to even be able to eat. So...yeah. Angry stabby feelings. But it really is pretty!
Okay, you can't really tell from this photo. Apparently I
was feeling too stabby to take many photos there...

After the Monastery of Stabbiness, we went to the Arequipa museum, where we saw an exhibition that included the mummy of a teenage girl who was sacrificed by the Incas. Sadly, I have no photos of the mummy, so this shot from the Buffy episode "Inca Mummy Girl" will have to suffice!
Source. Also, the mummy looked nothing like this. 

After all of that, the group somehow decided that going to a restaurant for dinner sounded far too much like hard work. So we ended up eating a dinner of Ritz crackers and cheese and Sublime chocolate bars on the roof of the hotel. And it was AWESOME. (Especially the Sublimes)

The following day, we had a stupidly long bus ride from Arequipa to Chivay. There were lots of stops along the way to look at vicuñas and frozen waterfalls and volcanoes and whatnot.
Mountain + conveniently located vicuña = purdy pictures 

By the time we reached Chivay, we'd climbed about 1,300m in altitude (5,300 feet) and I was starting to feel a little altitude sickness-y. WHEEEEEE, DIZZINESS AND NAUSEA!!!! Which is how I ended up having flat Inca Kola for lunch...

After lunch, we headed out to a nearby hot springs. To prepare us for the whole walking 40km at altitude thing that was coming up in a week or so (aka the Inca Trail), they dropped us 2kms from the hot springs and made us walk in. Public service announcement: Do not think that you can save time by wearing your board shorts UNDER YOUR JEANS. It is enormously uncomfortable when you then discover that you have to walk 2km... (I do these things so you don't have to.) Once we eventually arrived, the hot springs were amazing. But getting out of the steaming hot water after 4.5 hours? That part was a suckfest and a half...

The next morning, we got up at stupid o'clock and spent an hour and a half on a mini-bus on dirt roads heading to Colca Canyon. And when we arrived, we had a 20 minute wait in freezing temperatures before the highlight of Colca Canyon showed any signs of moving. But when they did? ZOMG AMAZINGNESS. Andean condors are enormous and wonderful to watch, and a point-and-shoot camera does not do them justice. SIGH:
Witness the size of the condors compared to the people. They. Are. ENORMOUS. 

After a good hour or so of watching condors, we got back on the bus, and headed back to Arequipa, via Chivay. Somewhere along the way, we stopped in a town where you could pose with an eagle on your head for the equivalent of 30 cents:
Quality derp face. He shall remain nameless to protect what remains of his dignity.

While en route back to Arequipa, we went through the highest point on our trip - 4,910m above sea level (16,108 feet). Walking the short distance from the bus to the plaque for photos was something of a challenge.
Unflattering photo at 4,910m above sea level. I do have hair. I promise.

I blame the altitude for me deciding that what I desperately needed to spend money on was a Peruvian blanket. Because what you REALLY need to carry around for the remaining 7.5 weeks of a 9 week trip is A SODDING BLANKET. (Public service announcement: Do not buy a blanket. I have never EVER used this blanket. It's very pretty. But it's also very pointless. And very very scratchy...)

Ahem. Upon returning to Arequipa, we went to dinner and then to a bar. Ness and I ordered pina coladas. They were completely vile, as they were made with about 25% rum, 25% pineapple juice, and 50% coconut cream. GAG. The switch to drinking Not Cocktails was understandably fairly swift.

At some point, the overwhelming number of Australians in the group meant that we turned into a giant pack of bogans. And when a giant pack of bogans is drinking while overseas, it leads to the singing of this:

Alcohol: turning travelling Australians into complete dickheads since 1788. (At least we weren't wearing marionette uniforms??)

Next up, Puno, Lake Titicaca, and we discover our Spanish is terrible when we go on a homestay.

K xx


  1. What on earth are bogans? Is it like Irish boggers?

    That monastery story is weird as hell!

    1. Bogans are like chavs. Only with more flannel and Crocodile Dundee accents...

      And yes, the monastery was proper weird. They even had stories that nuns who got pregnant would be sealed up alive in the walls... *shudder*

  2. For some reason I thought it was 5,300m, not feet, but only because our p!ssweak mountains in Australia top out at 2228m and I didn't feel at all dizzy climbing that with pack on, but sure as hell did when we got off that mini bus and wandered about weakly and pathetically.

    Wasn't there some story about a nun who went crazy or had seizures or something and so they thought she was posessed by demons and locked her in the kitchen where she died? Good times in the convent!

    But ohhhhhhh the badness of the cocktails (with the exception of Colca Canyon's answer to the Pisco Sour, the Colca Sour - now featuring blended cactus!)... I think the ones in Thailand weren't much better, though. Dirty, coconutty dishwater ahoy!

    1. Mt Veronica is 5,600m - maybe that's what you were thinking of??? I mostly just remember being freaked out that we were at a height of two Australias stacked on top of each other.

      Yeah, there was probably a story like that. Religion is FUN! :S Oh, and I think I successfully avoided all creamy type cocktails in Thailand. My numerous daiquiris were far more satisfactory!!

  3. Er, YOU turn into a bogan? PUH-LEASE. That's unpossible! (Aw, Ralph! :D)

    But seriously, I don't THINK sooooo! ::Cher Horowitz voice::

    Love "stupid o'clock", just so you know.

    Also, HOLY CRAP EAGLE ON HEAD!!! Eeeeeek!

    I'm also feeling stabby about the whole nun thing...I mean, whatever happened to the vow of poverty and humility and modesty and PAH! And, you know, feeling that it's your calling and whatnot? Lousy rich nuns!

    The landscape is like WHOA. Simply stunning.

    1. On very VERY rare occasions, my inner bogan has been known to come out. For about five minutes before I shove her back in the box where she belongs!!

      I'm glad the nun thing makes other people feel stabby! Because everyone I've spoken to who's been to Peru but not on my tour LOVED the monastery and thought it was amazing. So I don't know if we had a tour guide who told us different stuff, or if we were just more sensitive to it...

      And yes, it's GORGEOUS.

  4. I like the head-eagle, personally. I'd wear one like a hat.

    Incidentally, in New Zealand you don't need to suffer altitude sickness or awkward 2km walks to visit our hot pools ;-)

    1. I actually kind of think the head-eagle is a genius idea. It would be an excellent threat to use on people you didn't like - "Shut up and go away or I'll sic my head-eagle on you!!!"

      And this is yet another positive attribute to add to the list of "reasons I need to visit New Zealand"! :)

  5. omg, AMAZING!

    The head-eagle thing is fricken sweet, by the way!

    1. So, yeah. You should definitely try and make the trip to Colca Canyon while you're there!! It was INCREDIBLE. Photography opportunities to die for!

      Plus, you know, head-eagles. ;)

  6. Travelling Aussies = Gold. The copious amounts of alcohol resulting in the heavy occa accent coming out; the normally quite eloquent Australians start sounding like sheep-shearers from the Aussie outback.

    And why is it someone ALWAYS has vegemite. Whether your standing in the middle of the Amazon river or trudging across the Sahara desert, someone always has vegemite.

    1. I can't STAND the ocker accent. I feel like (seeing as how my birthday is Anzac Day) I should go to Gallipoli for Anzac Day one year to pay my respects. But the sheer number of bogans that will be present is enough to scare me away forever...

      And yes, someone always has Vegemite. I'm yet to work out why... *shudder*


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