Yanque and the Colca Valley

I'm in Cusco, Peru at the moment. I arrived two days ago after an overnight bus journey where the guy beside me kept trying to convince me that there was a possibility that we might not make it alive.

For the few days prior I was hanging out in the Colca Valley. I left Puno on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca at 2pm and arrived in Arequipa at 8.30pm. I decided to wait for the 1am bus to the Colca Valley and Cruz Del Condor where the Andean condors (below) can be seen gliding high above the valley between 8-10am and again later in the evening. Unfortunately I arrived there at 5.30am and had to wait a while.

The Andean Condors are vultures with a wing-span of up to 3 meters. They are the largest birds in the world. And apparently the Colca Valley (first photo, top) is one of the deepest valleys in the world - though it didn't seem very deep while looking down into it. While I was watching the enormous birds fly over me I met some people from France and they invited me to stay at their place in a tiny, humble village in the Colca Valley called Yanque - pronounced "Yankee."

[Below] From left to right: Rolando (Peru), Loic (France), Poul (Peru), Emilie (France) and Katia (France).

[Below] Over the next three days I trekked with them in the surrounding hills and enjoyed the natural hot-springs which exist in the area.

[Below] The neighbor's llama... with funky eyes!

[Below] Loic and Emilie are building a guesthouse in Yanque. Further to the abundance of trekking and hot-springs already mentioned, Yanque also has some Inca ruins to check out. It is a tourist hot-spot waiting to explode.

But before they commence building their guesthouse they had to "Pay the Land." In order to conduct the ceremony properly they had to obtain the services of the local witch, Gerardo. It is a traditional ceremony which is supposed to bring the dwelling good luck and prosperity.

[Below] The ceremony involves the fetus of a llama, coca and other leaves, drinking of wine and spirits, smoking of special cigarettes and a bonfire. It was very interesting to watch and I was very lucky to be there and even more lucky to be a part of the ceremony.

[Below] What do you get when you cross a zebra with a llama? A zebamara!

[Below] I saw this little boy in the field next to the house. He was filling this bag with dried-up cow-manure and carrying it on his tiny shoulders. Life in this village is hard. Often there is no running water.

[Below] Life in the village.

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