Wednesday, September 08, 2010

13 August: Chivay to Sibayo

We woke up super early this morning and headed off to see the Andean Condors at Colca Canyon (they can be seen best between 8 and 9am). I can't remember the last time I've seen so many tourists altogether in one place! It was insane. In fact, it's been an annoying part of this Colca-Canyon trip, that we are surrounded completely by other tourists at every thing we do. It gets a bit like driving from point to point in convoy!

Anyway, we did managed to see a few Condors. Apparently their wing span can be up to 3m! After the crowds dissipated, we went for another 45 minute walk along the canyon. We saw a flock of Andean Parakeet which was very cool! I think this is their way of slowly acclimatising us for The Lares Trek, which I think is a fantastic idea! So far I haven't had any altitude problems at all, aside from waking up feeling completely parched and getting out of breathe while going uphill on these walks or up stairs. But I could feel an improvement in today's walk already.



After that we stopped to enjoy all the terrace views, it's really quite amazing. And we got to see some pre-Incan tombs high up on the mountainside. The reminded me of swallows nests!

We stopped at another buffet spot for lunch, again with a billion other (of the same) tourists, back in Chivay. Seriously, we are starting to recognise members of the other groups, it's that bad!

After lunch, The Ageing Aunt, @UselessRob and I took a stroll around the local market because we had to buy "gifts" to take to our house-mammas at our home-stay this evening. The Ageing Aunt and I bought some rice, sugar, lentils, quinoa, flour and pasta for ours. It was really quite fun, and awfully helpful to have @UselessRob around to translate and ask how much everything cost ("Cuanto cuesta?"). After that I bought myself a fab 100% Alpaca wool Peruvian-style hat (Chullo), which I adore. It came in plenty handy over the rest of the trip, most especially while on The Lares Trek!

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And then after a quick pack of our day-packs for our overnight stay, we headed off to Sibayo to meet our house-mammas. The Ageing Aunt and I are staying with Edu. Let me tell you, it's quite a different experience because neither of us knows much Spanish and certainly even less Quecha.

Our house-mamma's dressed us up in the local dress on arrival and we found out we were very lucky because we happened to be spending the night during one of their 3day wedding celebrations. How cool!

But first (after a good laugh and plenty of photos of the whole group of us all dressed up!) we had a wander down to see their trout farm. After that we went to the wedding reception to deliver the gifts we'd been given to carry in the traditional way (bundled up and on our backs) by our house-mammas. We were clearly quite a novelty at the wedding because a few of the locals were rushing up and trying to sneak some photos - kinda weird to be on the receiving end of that! We got to taste a local drink (a corn-based alcohol called Chicha de jora) which smelt revolting but had almost no taste at all. And then we got to dance in a circle with the bridal couple, which was quite fun. (The photo below is actually of our home-stay house, on the right, taken from the town-square)



After our dance we all got ushered back to the house The Ageing Aunt and I were staying at, where we'd be having dinner. We got involved by peeling beans, potatoes and carrots for part of our dinner. Our guide made us some very nice hot Pisco drink as well.

The wedding customs here are quite strange (or very modern , which I guess I didn't expect from a small poor community out in the middle of nowhere in a very Catholic country). The bride and groom live together for 3 or 4 years "trying each other out" and having kids before they actually get married, usually only in their 30s. Apparently it's because it is so expensive for them to get married (because they have to invite the whole community and provide a party for 3 days), so they wait until they can afford it. Everyone from the community brings gifts, from furniture to food-stuffs (we'd taken corn and potatoes). What also interested me is that in their traditional dress, the hats that the girls wear indicate whether they are married or not, even if they are widows!

3 comments:

Angel said...

LOL, so did your traditional outfit say you were single too?

Angel said...

Nearly forgot- I can't believe those aren't birds' nests! How are they made?

phillygirl said...

Yep, I wore the "single" traditional outfit. And the tombs are made from mud and stones and apparently the ground was higher before some kind of landslide, so it's not like they climbed miles up the side of the mountain to bury them at the time.

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