Travel Blog 1.3: Goodbye Moray, brief troubled return to civilisation

Finally. We achieved what we set out to. Well, almost… I’m happy with three complete loos rather than 5, I’m taking personal credit for the cracking paint job. I will miss the friendly people of Moray, the breathtaking views and, of course, the Maestro Cyrilo. He taught me how to make cement, I taught him how English country lasses get things done. Always in my heart.

I’m glad to have a hot shower though, even if it did come after a 12 hour coach ride. If we thought hacking stones out of concrete sent me crazy, this was next level. The final three hours were a mix of frustrated grunting and calculations of how much force it would really take to shatter the coach window with the emergency hammer thingy.

Into the buzzing city of Arequipa, a place I was thrilled to discover is renowned for its food. So far I have slightly deviated from my aim of Peruvian authentic dining in favour of sampling the delights of the ‘Ribs Café’ an unassuming joint which, as the name suggests, sells ribs almost exclusively. Lucky me. In addition, I have consumed pizza and lemon meringue pie…nice work. The theory is I can treat myself to familiar comforts after Alpaca and guinea pig. The plan for tonight is to see how many Pisco sours it will take for me to pass out again…

Quick health update: having coped nobly with the altitude up until now, I think the long coach journey took its toll. Thinking myself a practical gal, I avoided water for the entire 12 hours in the hope that I wouldn’t need a wee at an awkward time when no rest stop was at hand. Stupid idea, never to be repeated. After my hearty meal and a reasonable few glasses of Sangria, I began to feel rather jollier than usual followed by a resounding crash when I returned to the hostel. Fortunately a charming young man named Tom was there to catch me mid-swoon. All better now you’ll be pleased to hear. Note to self: hydration is the key.

I think, after a few initial struggles, the 10 of us are getting on rather well. Or at least after we got over the whole “America: land of the free, home of the brave” vs. “Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves” scenario. Basically, when one is in a group of 3 Americans and 7 Brits, the topics of food, history and pronunciation should always be avoided. The frustration isn’t worth it, besides, we’re far too old for the whole “my country is better than yours scenario”. As long as it’s clear that we accept America has better fast food restaurants than we do, as long as they accept that David Beckham is still ours whether he lives in LA or not.

However, for now I’m quite happy to enjoy one American export. I think ‘Gone with the Wind’ may very well be my new favourite book. Okay; I am only 25% of the way through it, but I’ve read enough novels to know my stuff. Not only is it refreshingly fast moving, but I love Mitchell’s ingenious characterisation. Whilst Scarlett O’Hara frustrates me with her selfishness and ignorance, she’s a real card. The author combines her heroine’s amusing scrapes with the tense historical backdrop masterfully. On the other hand, must stop putting on airs and remind myself that I am not in fact a southern belle. I wonder if I’ll always be this impressionable…

Off to Camp Colca in the morning. An experience which promises condors and canyons. Talk to you in 10 days!

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