It's now after 10 pm on a day that started at 2 am, but a lot has happened and I have an Internet connection so I figure it's best to share. Before I get too far here are some things I've learned:
1: it NEVER gets old seeing alpacas or llamas on the side of the road
2: long bus rides suck, doesn't matter how much you spend on the ticket
3: pee when you are given a chance, even if you don't have to. The next stop might be hours away
4: you WILL get sunburned at high elevations
5: condors are really, really big
6: animals here have more hair
7: sometimes plans falling through are when better plans need space to materialize
8: bolivians like to dance in the street
9: being a nun back on the day was actually a sweet deal
10: always carry fresh, crispy, brand new bills into foreign countries
11: apparently I get nose bleeds when the conditions are right. Those conditions are high elevation and dry air.
Well, it turns out Dia del Peatones was a wonderful way to experience La Paz. The windy cobblestone streets were empty of cars are filled with kids on bikes, skateboards and scooters. Women dressed on traditional garb set up shop selling fruits, breads, and trinkets in the middle of the street. People dressed as zebras painted fresh crosswalks and a parade like atmosphere spilled down the main drag. Honestly it would have been a shame to miss it, and we all agreed we were glad were got trapped in La Paz for this inaugural holiday.
From La Paz we went by private car (rich) to Copacabana. It was a long drive, and the little bit we got to do with daylight was beautiful. Flat farmland spread on both sides of the road and met at the base of the Andes, which looked deceptively small at this height. We only had one day in Copacabana, and honestly, that was enough. We took a boat out to Isla del Sol and saw some ruins and did a little hiking. Laurie and I were super ambitious and went for the full 8 km hike, while Stacey and Emily were smart and took the boat. The scenery on the hike was nice, the vegetation on the island was stirringly similar to AZ desert...the view however of snowcapped mountains and a lake that looked big enough to be an ocean, were not. And just like that, we were off, back on the road. This time on a public bus and for an entire day.
We left Copacabana at 9 am and arrived at Arequipa at around 7pm. During this loooong journey separates lot of beautiful country and lots and lots of llamas and alpacas. We also were lectured on the evils of poor diet and someone tried to peddle some brand new wonder vitamin.
Here again is where plastic changed. We thought we were confirmed for this tour to get to Colca Canyon to see the Andean Condors. In order to do that we were expected to be up and waiting for the tour bus at 2 am. Yes, 2am. It is a long drive to the canyon and you want to be there in the morning when the condors take off for the day. So we got up...andwaited. Turns out we weren't actually confirmed, they just sent animal saying that we were confirmed...but weren't really? Yeah, still don't get that exactly. So now it's 3:30 in the morning and we just got up for nothing. That, answer are super bummed because we wanted to see some stinking giant birds!! Instead we ended up actually booking the you for today, and spent the rest of that day getting to enjoy Arequipa.
What a joy that was! It's a gorgeous city, and at times I found myself thinking I was back in Spain. We passed the day wandering the cobblestone streets, looking at shops, visiting monasteries.one incredible monastery that was like a cut within the city. It was called monestario de Santa Catalina. Google it, be impressed. :)
So, this morning we got up at some ungodly hour to go see giant stinking birds. It was totally worth it. They were huge and majestic. They floated by with Thierry impressive wingspan, gliding on drafts of air. Every time one would glide by, we and the rest of the crowd of tourists were scurry over to the edge of the canyon to point and gawk and take pictures. I promise load some of those condor pictures soon, when I have more than just my touch to type on.
But for now it's time to get some sleep in a real bed and not a bus seat. Until the next wifi connection.