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Craig's Birthday
Craig and Steph's First Adventure Life Trip: Peru

(Stephanie Smith)
We woke up at 5:30 and met Carlos and Señor Andreas for breakfast. It was Craig's birthday, so Carlos, Señor Andreas, and the waiter sang "Felices cumpleanos" to him and each gave him a hug. A female tourist came over to shake his hand and wish him happy birthday as well. It was great. We had scrambled eggs, ham, orange juice, and coca tea (from a tea bag). The restaurant at the lodge is definitely more touristic than others we have been to thus far. Last night at dinner they played jazz, today at breakfast they played classical. The food was more American than other places. At 6:45 we checked out and headed for Cruz del Condor. On the way, we stopped where some women were selling thngs. We bought an embroidered passport holder from a woman with a young girl on her back (probably around 3 years old). The girl's hat was taken by the wind and flew down a slope. The woman said she'd go after it later. The girl was adorable. I asked the mother about taking a picture. She said yes and told the girl. The girl got all excited and smiley and put both hands to her face in an embarrassed giggle. It was so cute! When we left, the girl called "Ciao!" to us. Carlos showed us the hanging tombs where people had been entombed in a fetal position (not mummified). They probably had to dangle over the mountaintop on ropes to get the bodies in there. But because the bodies were in the mountain, they were closer to god. We saw some green parakeets flying in the wild. It seemed weird to see them any place other than a cage in someon's house. The views of the canyon were spectacular. Fault lines are visible near the road, where the earth has just cracked. In some places, the road is even sunken. We saw a large truck full of potatoes that toppled into a shallow ravine. Potatoes were everywhere. Hopefully noone was hurt. I don't know how they'll even get the truck out though. The road was kind of dicey.

Then we continued on to Cruz del Condor. The condors were already flying when we arrived. Most people were all jammed together at the main lookout point. We parked to the left of it, and stood by ourselves. At first the condors were flying near the other people. They were pretty low in the valley. Carlos explained that adults have wing spans of up to three meters. Adults have white stripes on their back and juveniles are black and brown. Señor Andreas looked at the condors for a few minutes and then had to change a tire on the van. As time passed, the condors flew higher and higher. They changed their flight pattern so that they were closer to us. They were so majestic! Their size made it possible to observe many details about them with the naked eye. As they soar they use their tail as a rudder, and their head darts back and forth looking for prey. At one point one flew directly over our heads. It was amazing. We then did a short 30 minute loop hike. This hike was flatter, but even so, we found that we were much more acclimatized to the altitude today. We saw another condor while hiking. At the end of the trail, some women were selling things. We bought an embroidered tapestry which had a picture of a condor, farmers, and fishermen for 25 soles. As yapa she gave us and Carlos some prickly pear fruits, three red and one green. She cut them open with a knife for us. They were very good and juicy.

On the drive back we stopped at another scenic lookout. Here we met the mother of Carlos' godson. In Peru there are different godfathers and godmothers for different occasions. Carlos was the godfather for her child's first haircut. We bought an embroidered change purse from her for 4 soles and took her picture. We drove some more and stopped to view the snow-capped peak that is the source of the Amazon. We stopped in the village of Maca (maca is a plant the Peruvians use like Viagara). We had a few laughs about that and then drove back to Chivay. We ate at the Casa Blanca Restaurant, owned by one of Carlos' friends. We ate outside in a courtyard. As an appetizer we got choclo con queso (huge kernel corn on the cob served with two blocks of cheese on the side). I had papas rellenas with white rice and onion/tomato/lemon juice salad. Craig had an alpaca steak and mashed potatoes. Carlos had pork chicharron (deep fried but not battered) and he let us taste it. It had a dry texture but was quite tasty. I had Fanta and Craig had a Malta Arequipena. We had a quinoa cake (sort of like a shortcake) for dessert. Then we drove back to Arequipa, which took about 3.5 hours straight through. We hit a lot of oncoming traffic, as it was late afternoon and that is when the trucking lines set out from Arequipa. It was very dusty and you couldn't see very far. Pichu Pichu was barely visible. Carlos said that we had the benefits of the strikes the day before. Roads had been closed so cars didn't kick up as much dirt. We had had beautiful view of the mountains in Arequipa the previous two days. I guess this dustiness is what it's usually like. So, the strikers had helped us out. We got back to the hotel and said goodbye to Carlos. We were sad, as we had gotten close to him in the past few days, and it was hard to say goodbye. He was a fantastic guide, and we really got to be good friends. He had to catch a bus to Puno, but Señor Andreas would take us to te airport in the morning. We channel-surfed through some TV. We had fun watching dubbed Spanish versions of "Simpsons," "King of the Hill," "Hey Arnold," and "Rocket Power. "All the male lead characters seemed to use the same voice over actor. We showered and then went to bed around 10:30.

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