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A round the world trip in more than 80 days.

Why this blog ?

Our aim : travel and discover the world during 353 days and through some fifhteen countries. We are hoping that this blog will allow us to share the experience with our family and friends thanks to the posts and photos that we will be publishing and also thanks to their comments.

Currently ...

now. For the moment, we are gently readapting from nomadic to sedentary life.


Arequipa and Colca Canyon

Arequipa was founded in 1540 under request of Spanish 'conquistador' Francisco Pizarro, and only a few years later was mentioned by Cervantes in one of his books. With such references, plus the fact that many travellers speak highly of it, we had big expectations about this city.

Indeed, today it is mostly an industrial city, which size has been increasing in an exponential way over the last 80 years, and that has been damaged several times by earthquakes and eruptions over the centuries. So, although it keeps its original colonial structure, most of the buildings are not that wonderful.

The city is famous for the use of 'sillar' in construction. 'Sillar' is a whitish volcanic stone that is found in the area. It gives Arequipa its surname, the 'white city', and a particular character. All important buildings, such as the cathedral and the others that surround the 'Plaza de Armas' (main square), churches, monasteries and a few mansions spread around down-town are made of this rock.

What we have liked best is the 'Santa Catalina' monastery. With its 20.000 square meters, it is a real town within the city. Only high-born women could aspire to retire to that ecclesiastic 'private club' where, apart from life dedicated to prayers, they kept the life-style they were born into : each one had their own house inside the monastery and even kept servants.

If you ever pass Arequipa don't miss the mummy of 'Juanita', an Inca girl that was sacrificed to appease the fury of volcano Ampato almost 500 years ago, and whose body has been preserved practically intact (including hair and nails) in the snows of the crater, until it was found by an archaeological expedition at the beginning of the XXI century.

Arequipa is also the departure point to explore the two deepest canyons in the world, Colca and Cotahuasi, 3191 and 3352 meters deep respectively. The area is worth the visit for its beauty and for the condors that can be seen glyding over it. So we decided to make it the next stop in our trip.

Many women in the area wear a multi-colored traditional dress, quite weathered by the hardness of country life. In Cabanaconde, the small village from where we started the descent to the Canyon, electric power has only been available over the last 10 years. There are almost as many donkeys as people and practically no car at all. However they own a wonderful agricultural system, based in 'andenes' (terrases) irrigated using well traced channels and that is a heritage from pre-Inca times.

The descent to the canyon (and subsequent ascent) is a hard if beautiful thing to do. The way is a 5 km long, 1200 meters deep, sand and stone trail, only usable by people or animals. Normally you can make it to the bottom in some 2 hours and back to the top in 4 more hours. Little children from the village do the ascent in 2 hours and the guy from our hotel can do it running in 45 minutes. But Karim and I must have conquered the record of the longest time ever needed : more than 3 hours to go down and almost 7 hours to return. We even finished after nightfall (hopefully, we had our headlights, enough water and some coca leaves that are supposed to help with altitude).

In spite of the muscle pain that we have suffered for a few days, in the whole it was a great and satisfactory experience and we are happy to have done it. It allowed us to meet and discuss with some very nice people. There is nothing like sharing a tough experience to get people closer :)