On our second day in the Colca Valley, we managed to wake up in time to make it to Cruz del Condor to watch the mighty condors flying by. We packed our backpacks and headed to the bus station. There, the same lady who stored our bags until the afternoon also managed to rip us off on a cup of tea.
The Cruz del Condor viewpoint is as touristic as the Colca Valley can get. If the previous day we had seen almost no foreigners, now there were white people all around! Where did all the Andeans go? Oh wait, they are right there selling souvenirs and cokes, that I came to realize a lot of travelers have… for breakfast!
We walked a little bit down the view point, to find a spot where we could actually see the condors and not only blonde heads in front of us. We managed to see some of the biggest flying creatures ever, gliding in the freezing wind. It was worth it to wake up early – the grand landscapes and the birds were indeed a glorious sight.
In less than one hour, all the tourists disappeared – they stop here as first thing in the program of full day tours, that many times come from Arequipa. Soon enough we realized there were no buses, no colectivos, not even private cars around. It was almost just us and the vending ladies left in the place. What to do? Sit around until someone with wheels would pass by, as it was still a couple of hours left until the same bus that dropped us would return back.
I was feeling a bit weird (probably the altitude) so I just sat getting some sun while Ashray gave me a hand massage – for all of those backpackers who keep on claiming that solo travel is the way to go, this is proof that it is NOT!
A little later, a Peruvian family arrived and parked their pick-up truck nearby. Many of the souvenir selling ladies approached the man behind the wheel to ask for a ride into the next town, Cabanaconde. I learnt later that a shared transport drops them here in the morning and collects them back at 2 PM. But the truth is that, by mid morning, there is almost no living soul visiting La Cruz del Condor.
We decided to approach the man as well for a ride to Cabanaconde. After some condescending looks and questioning, he said “if you can manage to hop on, go ahead!”. By now, several Andean ladies had already occupied most of the trunk space, making piles with their packed goods. Still, we managed to hop on, to share a drive with 3 local ladies, their massive packages and a French girl. Some of the other vending ladies had to stay behind as the owner of the car scolded them for having way too many things to carry.
One of the ladies in the pick-up, Miriam, was smiley and chatty so we started talking almost right away. She asked how much our Mexican sombrero had cost us, where we came from, if we liked Peru… When Ashray mentioned he is from India, she was extremely curious about that far away land. We talked about the people, the religion, the weddings, “what kind of lady Indian man like”. The French girl decided she knew more about Indian culture than the Indian man himself! When Miriam asked about the kind of girl Indians dig, she said “blanquita!”, meaning “whitey”! But her lack of cultural sensitivity still proved to be lower than expected a little later, when she started telling us that she used to be fascinated with India, “I read many books and saw many movies! I know a lot about India“. I don’t know that much about India (yet) but one thing I can assure you: it’s not exactly like in the Bollywood movies! In fact, I am still a little disappointed for not randomly coming across any choreographed dances in my travels to India.
“I’d love to go to India“, French girl said, “but I just can’t get the courage for it. I think once you go there, with the things you see, you won’t come back the same person“!
“You mean because of seeing many people living in the streets?“, I asked, ready to sympathize with that feeling.
“No, I mean because of many people living in shit!”
Oh well. We can’t all live in a cloud of blue cheese and baguette, can we? Ashray didn’t fully understand what she said, as she was talking in Spanish and the wind was blowing as the car would speed towards Cabanaconde. And I wasn’t really going to argue with her point of view, when I could be exchanging a far more interesting talk with Miriam, still curious about the kind of fabrics Indians use for their clothing. It’s cool for people to have strong opinions about something, but you can’t be so hardcore in your comments when you are referring to something that involves the person who are speaking to. Further more, this girl said “In India everyone is poor!” to what Ashray replied “I am not poor!” – he wouldn’t obviously be there on the other side of the world, touring the Colca Valley, if he couldn’t feed himself, would he? Some people just tend to think in a straight line, categorizing things in whatever way makes them feel better about themselves. Oh well…
In less than 20 minutes, we arrived to Cabanaconde, just in time to take the bus back to Chivay. Basically, this same bus would have stopped at Cruz del Condor, but at least this way we got to experience an amusing car ride with lovely (and not so lovely) company.
In Chivay, we took the bus to Arequipa, where we were to spend the night, before busing to our next stop in Peru: Nazca!