July 14, 2012
Our gracious host in Arequipa, Virginia, ensured a smooth transition to our onward travels by keeping our luggage for us as we went on a 5-day trip to the Canon del Colca, going to the bus station the day before we left and buying our tickets for Chivay, and driving us to the bus station to catch our bus. After she ensured we were safely ensconced in our bus, we left Arequipa for Chivay, passing through 4800 m (15750 ft) on the way. In an attempt to reduce any effects of altitude sickness, we'd consumed copious quantities of mate de coca and taken some sorojchi pills that were recommended to us (not the girls though since they contain aspirin, and probably ineffective since they appear to contain just aspirin, caffeine, and something called salofeno). We all managed fine, however, despite having to endure quite possibly the most inappropriate movie for speeding along narrow, windy mountain roads - The Fast and the Furious. Once we'd left the scrubbly outskirts of Arequipa, the views during the journey got increasingly more spectacular as we passed volcanoes and approached the canyon. When we reached Chivay, we were met by David, owner of the Hostal Estrella de David, where we'd arranged to stay.
After exploring the town a little, we walked to La Calera hot springs. Walking there wasn't perhaps the wisest choice given the added exertion of walking at 3630 m (nearly 12000 feet) and we misjudged how far it was, so this took a while. The hot springs were glorious, four or five different pools, some under cover, others in the open air, and all different temperatures. The pools were fairly busy with tour groups, but we stayed until after dark and then took a taxi back to town. There we had our best meal so far in Peru, including trout for me and Bethany and hearty soups for Tanya and Sierra. Then to bed and a rather cold night in our spartan room - lucky we'd brought extra blankets with us.