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  1. About the Book
  2. The Sandie Sedgbeer Show with guest Jonette Crowley
  3. AHO CONDOR EAGLE - video dailymotion
  4. Works under MDS 133.909
  5. The Colca Canyon: In the Valley of the Condor

Earlier today, our guide Cesar warned us that high altitude puts stress on the human body.

About the Book

He explained that the locals chew coca leaves in order to work the fields under these physiological conditions, a remedy, remarkably, that traces back to BC. A tastier alternative is drinking mate de coca , tea made from the leaves, which can alleviate the symptoms of altitude sickness. In this region, coca is a sacred plant and a strong cultural symbol.

To help ensure a successful harvest, locals perform a challaco ritual, which involves the sprinkling of food, a purple corn beverage, and coca leaves as payment and tribute to the Andean goddess Pachamama, or Mother Earth. They seem to be having better luck with the altitude than myself.


The Sandie Sedgbeer Show with guest Jonette Crowley

Chivay is the first stop on our pilgrimage to the Colca Canyon, a gorge twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, where we hope to catch a glimpse of the mighty Andean condor bright and early the next morning. Before hopping the bus from Chivay that morning, I had started my trip with a hour bus ride to Arequipa from Lima, where I had spent two weeks reconnecting with family and friends after almost seven years of not having seen them.

Arequipa may be a gateway to the Colca Valley, but it has plenty of its own attractions to draw visitors. The city was refounded, so to speak, by Gonzalo Pizarro in with the Spanish sweep through South America, and the elaborate architecture alone is worth the trip. The most stunnin g observation is that most of the white-walled colonial buildings are intricately carved from sillar, porous rock collected from neighbouring volcanoes. I stumbled upon a couple of ceremonies by mistake; every church within a few blocks seemed to be helping lovebirds tie the knot. The visit to Santa Catalina was highly recommended to me by my Aunt Lola, who spent years living in Arequipa.

There was plenty of space for comfort in the extensive 20,square-metre, maze-like layout that is complete with buildings, streets, chapels, communal kitchen and washing sector, and even an art museum with hundreds of colonial paintings. About 20 to 30 cloistered nuns still live here in an area closed off to tourists.

The Spanish architecture of the monastery is characterized by tiled roofs, detailed wooden doors, and brightly-painted red and blue walls, columns and arches.

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There are red geraniums in pots, on windowsills and on the antique furniture of the quaint living quarters. The narrow pathways open to large, serene courtyards with orange trees. My aunt Lola was right—I spent almost a whole day exploring the hidden rooms, nooks, and staircases in this wonderfully unstuffy monastery.

There were only a few visitors, too, which made the setting even more peaceful. I turned a corner, startling a poor German tourist, who seemed genuinely flustered to see me. There was a young woman who also seemed to be travelling on her own. Eventually, this classic solo travel moment of reciprocal picture-taking led us to start a conversation, and it turns out that Grace was originally from Colombia but grew up in the U. As a Peruvian who was raised mostly in Canada I could definitely relate to her multicultural upbringing.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon chatting in Spanglish blending English and Spanish , and getting lost in the monastery together. For dinner, we went to a balconied picanteria overlooking the main plaza. Watching the cathedral light up at dusk, with stunning El Misti behind it, was magical. In sharing talk and travel plans over dinner, we decided it would be fun to go to the Colca Valley together. My hostel, Posada del Virrey, run by the lovely and helpful Maria, was located within an old colonial building and was a great meeting point for a spectrum of travellers hoping to use Arequipa as a launching pad for their treks or expeditions.

That evening, I exchanged travel stories with Markus, an adventurous German, who had spent the last three days camping in below-freezing temperatures while trekking the 5,metre-high El Misti. Peru offers some of the best alpine hiking in the world, and El Misti is a popular destination. Markus was off to the Colca Valley the next day as well, but doing it on his own via public transportation.

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  • Due to our limited time constraints, Grace and I opted for an organized tour. As our bus drove north from Arequipa, El Misti started spewing white smoke, much to the delight of the snap-happy mix of South American and European tourists in our group. The traces of civilization became fewer and far between, marked by the disappearance of smog, street dogs, motorcycles, and brick walls painted with political propaganda, giving way to the immense Andean blue sky and the seemingly untouched landscape.

    AHO CONDOR EAGLE - video dailymotion

    The flowing desert before us was dotted with vegetation and curved around powerful volcanoes that rose up effortlessly from the barren land. Tiny, straw-like shrubs sprung from the rocky ground, creating a panorama that was both gentle and harsh at the same time. The rolling hills, shaped by time and history and even patience, seemed unending. The road to Chivay, although a little bumpy, was nothing compared to what my Uncle Tony and Aunt Luzma had described. Grace and I happily chewed some coca leaves on the way, which helped with the nausea but made my lips a little numb.

    Their common ancestors migrated simultaneously toward Asia, Africa and South America, where they continued to evolve and adapt to very different, yet difficult environments. The dusty road continued, and we came across a herd of alpacas, and later llamas, which were feeding on different plants. A little girl was carefully grooming her pet alpaca, which had brightly sewn yarn in its ears—she let me get close enough so that its large doe eyes with their long eyelashes stared adorably back at me.

    We continued climbing steadily until we reached the Mirador de los Andes also called the Patapampa lookout. The views from this altitude were breathtaking, figuratively but also quite literally. There were hundreds of piled rock towers, called apachetas, left behind as offerings to the mystical apu mountain spirits. And with that as our cue to leave, after nearly kilometres and five hours on the road, we started our sharp descent into Chivay.

    But as a bonus it has a somewhat strange statue of Juanita, the ice mummy girl unearthed at 6, metres on Mount Ampato in It is thought her well-preserved body was sacrificed by the Incas to the mountain gods more than years ago; the mummy itself is now located at the Museum of Andean Sanctuaries in Arequipa. My travelling partners pick me up and drag me to the La Calera Hot Springs, insisting it will make me feel better. On our way through the plaza, we unexpectedly pass an Irish pub.

    Soaking in hot springs, however, sounds absolutely idyllic! The hot springs complex is made up of five thermal pools but only two to choose from as three are reserved for locals , which are located about four kilometres from Chivay. There are lots of amenities, like showers, changing rooms and even a small cultural museum. The atmosphere is mostly quiet, except for the faint adrenaline-fuelled screams of zipliners in the distance.

    Works under MDS 133.909

    After a long day on a bus, winding down in the pools, surrounded by rugged hills and getting my first views of the Colca River, one of the sources of the Amazon River, is a real treat. Ivan sips a hot cocktail called Inca Rabioso , or Angry Inca, a mix of Peruvian liquor Pisco , honey, and coca leaves, while the rest of the group dine on alpaca steaks.

    The talented band plays on pan-flutes and the dancers pull me to centre stage, placing a thick alpaca poncho over my head and spinning me in a circle. Breakfast is waiting for us at 5 a. We savour the freshly squeezed orange juice and enjoy the bread of the region, which is baked in a stone oven and is amusingly flat—yet another influence of the altitude. With the help of spirit guides and mystical visions, she brings ancient knowledge and spiritual power to light.

    The Colca Canyon: In the Valley of the Condor

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