Monday, July 6, 2009

Awesome Condors!

The second day of our Colca Canon trip was mainly about seeing the Andean Condors. We left the hotel early. It was below freezing and everyone was bundled up. Our guide told us that the condors don't come out until the sun gets up high enough, so we stopped at some small towns along the way to burn up a little time.

Churches Built to Withstand Earthquakes!

The towns were typical tourist stops. Each town of course has a beautiful church, a square area, ladies selling local handicrafts, and a couple of people with local animals (llamas and hawks) that the tourists pay to photograph.

One town had girls in local dress dancing around the centerpiece of the square. They do this every morning, in the freezing (but sunny) weather. Several girls had on sandals. Brrr! There are 4-5 tourist vans, and everyone taking pictures. The locals are trying to get you to buy stuff or pay for a photo. I hate this side of tourism!

The rest of the town was usually pitiful... adobe houses, very poor people trying to scratch out a living in a pretty unforgiving environment. I once again blessed my heritage.

One amazing part of the landscape is the miles and miles and miles of terraced mountainside. Very little of it seemed like it was being actively cultivated now (but it IS in the middle of winter and dry season). But I assume a lot of it is still left over from the Inca empire 500 years ago.

The condor place is known as Cruz del Condor (Cross of the Condor). Just as promised, the condors were soaring... about 10 of them in all. But after a half an hour or so, they moved on down the cliff and out of sight. It doesn't look like it in the pictures, but its wingspan is 9-10 feet!!

I was feeling really bad... my bout of 'turistas' had come back unexpectedly, and the altitude was still giving me problems, and it was cold. When we got back on the bus for the trip back to Arequipa, I zonked out, even though we were on rough roads most of the way back!

Feeling Like Crap, I Bravely Smile for the Camera!

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