Wednesday, March 3

Day 2: The Villages

We woke up on the second day to this view of Colca canyon. See that tiny trail clinging desperately to the canyon wall and hugging the rocky outcroppings? That's the one we hiked down by moonlight the night before. 
These were our bungalows that we shared with four other women on our tour. But we only spent a short nine hours at this small resort before moving along the canyon floor. 

We walked for six hours, absorbing the impressive scenery and stopping to learn about the regional flora, including these delicious cactus fruits called "tunas." Yum!

The group was in no hurry to get to the next resort. We stopped often to rest, and even more often to let pack mules and their owners pass. 

Our 23-year-old tour guide Ruth didn't even sweat, that I saw, as we made one big vertical climb for the day. She does this hike as much as every day during the high tourism season (May-September). Here she is showing us some crazy bugs that live on the cactus and, when squashed, make a brilliant dye used in cosmetics. 

The highlight of day 2 were the four or five villages along the route. With no motorized access, the few hundred people in these towns climb in and out on foot to get basic supplies.
One of the towns names caught our attention. While I don't remember the word, it meant "sickness" in Quechua (Peru's principal, and widely spoken, indigenous language). Why? A few decades ago, malaria was brought into the town and infected many of its inhabitants. 

And their lifestyle is still centered around subsistence agriculture, as this entrepreneurial woman showed us in her quaint, yet fantastic museum. In this photo, she's demonstrating weaving. 

These containers are made from bull testicles and used to carry money and other necessities. 

Electricity just arrived to these villages less than 10 years ago, and yet some houses still had satellite TV, like this one.
Before dropping into another section of the canyon floor to rest and relax at the "Oasis," our appropriately-named resort, we caught this beautiful view of the valley looking south. I'll leave you with that for today.

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