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Condors, Condors, and More Condors!

Condor at Cruz del Condor in the Colca Canyon
Condor at Cruz del Condor in the Colca Canyon
Although technically only 30 miles away, it takes about an hour and a half to get to Cruz del Condor (Condor Cross), where we will hopefully see the Andean Condors this morning. So, it's up early for a bite of breakfast before heading out. The drive is on a crazy, winding dirt road, and before we know it everything is covered in a film of dust. We are wearing our warmest clothes for the trip this morning – hats, gloves and scarves. We make a few brief stops along the way, but save most of them for the return trip. We are anxious to see the condors! At Condor Cross there are already a number of buses and vans when we arrive. The Condors are the reason most people come to this part of Peru. Liliana guides us to a particular spot she prefers, and we wait. We need only wait a few minutes, seconds really, when we spot our first condor, gliding in the canyon below us. Even though he is far away he seems huge for a bird. After our initial sighting, at a distance, of one condor several times, we have a short 5-minute intermission and then it seems that condors are everywhere, flying above and around us. Some come very close to us and Liliana surmises that these must be young condors who do not yet know how to control their flight patterns very well! We don't even need the binoculars most of the time, although with them we can see the detail of the wings and feathers. It is spectacular! Then, another 5-minute intermission followed by more condors! We know we saw at least 8 different condors, each several times. The show is over by about 9, so we walk around a bit before leaving. Just as we are about to board the van for the return trip, a last lone condor circles above us, higher and higher for a long time, bidding us goodbye! What magnificent birds, what beautiful soaring and gliding, and what a privilege to see them! On the way back to the Colca Canyon, we stop for a photo op with two older women and their llamas. The women are wearing two different kinds of hats. Liliana explains that the shape of each hat distinguishes the tribe the women are from. Up until the time of the Spanish conquistadors in the mid-1500s, the indigenous people would make their babies wear certain types of hats to mold their soft heads into the shape of their favorite mountain, the one their tribe worshipped. Thus one could distinguish people from the various tribes by the shape of their heads. Apparently the Spanish were horrified by this practice and ordered it to stop. So, today the hats distinguish the tribes, and depending on whether the brim is up or down you can tell if a woman is single or married. When we return to the Lodge, we order a mixed grill lunch to be served outside by the pools, at the bar. After lunch we take a short walk along the riverbank until we reach another independently owned hot spring pool. We pay the man 3 soles each to cross his suspension bridge. Andrea was a bit disappointed he didn't ask her three questions first! But it's fun -- just rickety enough to be an adventure and another good photo op. Then we go back to the pools at the Lodge for a soak and another pisco sour, followed by a massage at the Lodge spa. Heaven! After the massages we are so relaxed and sleepy that we decide to call it a day, even though it's still early. We return to the room to read and journal and fall asleep by 8.
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