Spending the night in an oasis is worth an 8 hours’ walk

I woke up at 2.45, took a shower… and at 3.00 sharp, there stood the mini-van in front of the hotel. My body half naked and my hair wet. I probably shouldn’t have ignored the information provided by the hostel owner – see previous post – but it started to feel weird waking up at the time I usually go to bed.

We made a first stop for breakfast and a second one to try to spot condors at the “Cruz del Condor”, a view point that was on our way to the canyon. The condor is an animal which was venerated by the Incas. Today, it is an endangered and protected species. We stayed about 30 minutes… and I didn’t get to see any, unfortunately.

We started walking at 9.00, as a group of 6: two ladies from Germany, two from Czech Republic, the guide and myself. The first day was essentially about going down. As soon as we started walking, we could spot the oasis where we would arrive at about 5.00 p.m. It didn’t really look that far away. But it did take us a good 8 hours to get there. After walking for an hour or two, I heard a sudden “BANG”. I tried to figure out where it was coming from and it didn’t take me long to spot the place where a huge amount of rocks and soil were falling down on the opposite slope of the canyon. Together with a huge cloud of smoke going up. Suddenly, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go any further. Was the way safe? Had the crumbling been made on purpose? Any way it would happen our side of the canyon too? But I soon got reassured. They were just building a road.

We made a pause in front of the bridge that would take us to the other side of the canyon, then made our way to… lunch! Food is always a great motivation to keep you going. The place where we ate was cosy, with a nice view and what seemed to be adorable kids. Until one of them told me I wasn’t allowed to lie down on the three chairs I had lined up in hope of getting a rest before starting to walk again.
– “You might break them”.
What did he mean, I might break them? I’m tall, yes. But not THAT heavy. Besides, how can it be more dangerous for a chair if I spread my weight on three of them instead of having it all on one, as is usual when you simply sit on a chair. Huh? I decided to take a nap just the way I had planned to and reflect on the subject. And that’s when the second kid, who seemed to be a very sweet 2 year old girl, thought it was fun to move the chairs I was laying on. *Sigh*

Walking through the canyon, we went past a few villages. Very small ones. At one point, our guide showed us the sanitary centre, where the doctor lived. The doctor is not originally from the village so, after one year, he leaves and a new doctor comes to take care of the center and the patients. Apparently, that centre was quite new. And you need hours to go from one village to the next. I was just trying not to imagine too hard how it would be to be badly injured or very ill in a place like this. Most of the villages had schools though. With sometimes no more than 6 or 7 pupils each.

One of the villages in the canyon.
One of the villages in the canyon.

It was around 5.00 pm when we got to the oasis, where we would spend the night. We were amongst the first ones to arrive. We ordered beer. Big bottles of beer. And then the ladies decided to jump into the pool. It honestly looked way too cold for me, so I remained on the side, immortalizing the moment in pictures for them, looking after their belongings and making sure the beer wouldn’t get wasted.

There was no hot water for the shower. And no electricity. With an exquisite outdoor candlelight supper as a result. Candlelight supper in an oasis somewhere in Peru sounds so romantic, posh and chic. But isn’t really so when you are wearing a big coat and a woolly hat. Me and my German roommates took the candles back to our bedroom in order to make sure we would find our pajamas. We thought we were smart. Until the plastic bottle it was placed in started to melt and almost set fire to the place.

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