Saturday, February 28, 2009

Flora of Lake Salinas

Here I thought I'd add some of the wild flowers from the area.

Lake Salinas Mountains

The Andean mountains in the region are formed by volcanic activity. The main mountain around Lake Salinas is Pichu Pichu, meaning mountain with many peaks. El Misti is the other and is closer to Arequipa. The other mountains around Lake Salinas are equally magnificent. Last year one of them erupted and spewed a lot of ash around the area. We couldn't see this mountain today though as it was covered in cloud.

Lake Salinas

After travelling 3 hours one way, in Land Rovers, over a low maintenance mountain trail, we finally reached our destination... which wasn't what we expected but actually turned out to be awe inspiring. The natural beauty was tremendous. We were at about 4000m, about 300 meters below the snow line. The salt lake in the dry season is almost entirely dry, but we're here during the rainy season which in this case is beneficial in other ways because it brings more wildlife to the area.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Downhill Riders

Went on a downhill mountain biking trek starting at 4875m above sea level. The trek road was bumpy but the bikes had good suspension. Weather was fantastic but on the way down we got totally soaked as the clouds shifted and dumped on us. Made the road a bit treacherous but that just added to the adrenaline rush. The other rider that joined me was from Toronto, ironically... have not met many Canucks on this excursion. He was travelling South America for a month and then going back to TO for a week, then joining a friend of his to venture out to Vancouver for a new career and work the Olympics next year.

The mountain across the valley is El Misti... a slightly active volcano still.

Couldn´t resist adding these!

Okay, so a few more...

A Few Students

Thought I´d throw in a few photos of the charming kids that touched our lives over the summer schools experience.

Class Photos

Posing with the students and their carefully designed polo´s. The first photo is of the clan at Maldonado and the second is from Triunfo. Many students didn´t come to class in the last week or so because their parents need them in the fields to harvest the latest crop.

Last Day of Summer School

The Ultimo Dia de Vaccaciones Utiles (final day of summer school). Here the tribe poses for the group shot before heading off to the schools. We´re wearing the t-shirts we designed with the kids and hope they will be keen to model their t-shirts when they see us.

A New Perrito

Cielo (grand-daughter of the family I live with) got a new perrito and has difficulty letting anyone near her. The name of her I gathered is "Pulero". The little pooch is about 2 months old.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Home Away From Home

This little abode above the store is where I hang my hat every night. It's comfy but certainly doesn't feel like home.

A New Puppy

One of the son's of the family that I live with got a new dog the other day and gave it a bath. Here the little un-named puppy is drying off and ticked that she got so wet. it was amusing to watch her dry herself off.

Old Church... name?

And here's a old church not too far from the Plaza de Armas.

Plaza de Armas

Here's a merged shot of the central plaza. It's amazing that so many people just hang around and socialize all day... moving from one friend or group of friends to another. During "Carnaval" the place really starts hopping with dancing, socializing and water fights.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

ScotiaBank in Arequipa!!!

This one is for Colleen! Pretty self explanatory... although it was early Saturday morning and the main bank wasn´t open... but I did take some cash out from the ATM. There, I used ScotiaBank for some cash (Solares), although they took a $5 CAD surcharge from me, too! Can you do something about that Leen´r???

Up the Canyon

Riding a mule up the steep trail of the canyon was a treat. It was a recommendation from the tour guide for the people in our group. I think everyone agreed once we topped the canyon. The trail was treacherous in spots. I was amazed how agile these animals were. It was definitely an experience to remember! I have no idea what they named my mule but he sure didn´t like it if one of the others tried to pass.

Poolside in Colca Canyon

We had 2 hour trek down to the "piscina" for some relaxation before starting up the canyon to Cabanacondor. The water was very refreshing and lunch was pretty good too. They surprised us with a drastic increase in the price of the mule ride up the canyon which everyone opted to do... regardless of the increase.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Trail Conditions

This is one of the two suspension bridges we used to cross the Colca River. Our guide amused himself by trying to make the bridge wobble as we walked across. The picture looking down at the bridge is typical of the trail... there are no handrails... you miss a step... its been nice knowing ya!

Tapay Local Hospital

We received a friendly tour of the local hospital. It was a 4 room building but they use every square inch. Donations from tourists and some meager money from the government is what keeps it going. It serves a very large district and some people travel for up to 3-4 days over mountainous terrain in order to receive medical assistance.

Tapay Local Museum

Along the way there was a museum that one of the locals built. Free admission and our guide provided a very lengthy but informative tour of the tools, textiles, animals and customs of the local people. There are no roads into Tapay so access is by foot or mule only.

Morning in Tapay

The view the following morning was superb and I grabbed a few shots of the flowers in the garden of the owners hostel where we stayed. He gave us a tour of his garden but no one understood a word he said. He works closely with the doctors of the village providing herbs and ancient remedies handed down from his ancestors.