The Different Types of Fun: Hiking the Colca Canyon

The Different Types of Fun: Hiking the Colca Canyon

The past couple days traveling with OG have been surreal to say the least. The amount of activities we were able to fit into one day may seem unrealistic to some, but was made possible by our AWESOME trip leaders Laura and Beck. The activities ranged from hiking the second deepest canyon in the world (both up AND down), learning farming practices and the way of life in the sierra of Peru, and exploring Arequipa. Before getting into the details, specific terms need to be defined… Type 1 Fun: Primary fun, where fun is experienced at the same time as the activity Type 2 Fun : Secondary fun, where fun is not allllways evident at the time, but certainly when reminiscing of the challenge or say, discomfort of sleeping on a bus?

Hiking the Colca Canyon was definitely Type 2 Fun at times. Though I initially said that the hike was a breeze, I slowly ate my words. It was hard not to curse under my breath while unintentionally sliding  down the path. Even though the hike was difficult, it was rewarding to stare into the gorgeous scenery to know that major progress was made. As everyone was at different levels of fitness (and some adapted to the altitude better), the group worked together as a team to motivate and support each other during the three day trek. Our guide informed us about the history of the area, the local culture and taught us about the uses of the various plants that we stumbled upon during the hike.

Robin hiking the Colca Canyon! 

The place that we stayed at was one of the biggest surprises. The family that ran the place embraced us with open arms, allowing us to gain a deeper insight into their lives and culture. We were able to try guinea pig for the first time while there, some us of overcoming our attachment to a certain creature named Sheldon who ended up on our plates.  During our stay we were able to go out in the morning with the owner Danilo and were able to learn first hand about subsistence farming in the canyon.   We were able to help our new friend harvest some fruit from his orchard, which he was gracious enough to share with us. Needless to say it was delicious.  From there we embarked down the canyon to our next stop, aptly called the Oasis. After a quick dip in the chilly pool, we were able to climb up one of the giant boulders and watch the sun set, reflecting on how grateful we were to have made it down alive and to be together. I know that that sounds completely cheesy, but it is true.

OG Peru Winter Break taking a bite out of Granada (pomegranate) 

The last day of our hike saw some of us embarking before the sun had even risen, setting off to climb out of the canyon. Although it was a difficult hike, with many breaks to catch our breath and motivate each other to make it to the top. After three hours of switch-backs we all reached the top and, after taking a few moments to breath normally again and revel in the fact that all of us had made it alive and intact, we set off to grab breakfast and head back to Arequipa where volunteering and more adventures awaited us. After the hike, we returned back home to Arequipa for a New Years around a fire on our rooftop. We rang in 2013 with fireworks erupting 360 degrees around us: a sight and feeling impossible to explain. Laura and Beck introduced us to their alter egos and convinced us to try and save Peru from vicuna takeover. I still don’t know what that means, but it gave us an excuse to explore Arequipa. We were separated into groups of three and ventured all over the city to try and find the answer to certain questions, take pictures of specific things, and create an artistic composition to present to the group to summarize our day. The highlight of our day may have been “ice skating” in the Plaza de Armas. No wait. Sorry. Our highlight of the day was definitely walking past a car with a toddler behind the steering wheel. I´m not sure if I was surprised to see the baby driving or if I was scared for its well being… Needless to say, our worries were wasted because the car was PARKED. I think the best photo of the day was from our challenge to take a photo of the cheapest Menu in the city. Team “Jamon, Siesta, Cebolla” had one of Colin selling his scantily clad body for 50 cents. Quite the bargain. The best part of our reunion that evening may have been our performances. All the groups took a completely different approach with the task at hand. One group did a rap, while another group did a cover of °The Fresh Prince of Bel  Air”. Overall, everyone had awesome pictures and everyone should have won (But not actually because we won and this is our winning blog post).

Dominic working with the community at Los Olivos

The last two days we have crammed into a combi to head 30 minutes north of the city for our volunteer project. We are working with community to help an elderly man in Los Olivos, a small village just under the El Misti volcano, to renovate and create a second room for his home. Lifting rocks, carrying bags of cement from the local hardware store, and digging endless holes, it is tough but rewarding work! Along with the dust we all seem to be eating (and carrying home in everything we own) we get to enjoy lunch of local food with our friend’s mother each day. Evenings we talk about voluntourism, what our purpose is here, scour the streets for alfajores (a local, shortbread and dulce de leche delicacy) and hang as a family. Life is good. Team Ceviche (Brittany, Dom, and Renee)