Day 365: Chivay

Chivay was supposed to be the stopover, not the main attraction. Yet, I was delighted it proved to be anything but a stopover. Momma actually stayed behind at the bus pick-up until we realized she would probably enjoy the market and streets surrounding that were full of character. As much as I enjoyed the quietness of Cababanaconde, it was a little too quiet for me and lacked the character that Chivay more than made up for. We were only there for about two hours, but had a really great time walking through the market, eating sautéed alpaca (and what we found out was jello with cool whip on top), and photographing women with llamas while we waited for our bus to Puno in the afternoon.

On our way out of Cabanaconde it was hard to say goodbye to Colca Canyon and it’s surrounding fields despite being for the most part dried up during the winter months.

Once we got into Chivay, we were surprised to see these statues lining one of the main streets (just outside of the covered market). Some of them seemed very friendly and welcoming, but seriously, what is up with the dude in a mask who looks ready to come to life and decapitate me? It reminded me of some Mexican wrestling, but who knows if I’m anywhere near what he really represents!

I couldn’t resist these adorable ones eating ice-cream while I waited for Andrew to run back to gather Mom and our things. I tried to ask for permission and I think I was granted it, but the little one in the middle seemed perplexed. I only wished my Polaroid wasn’t buried in another bag so I could give it to him to give to his mother afterwards.

We wandered through the market, stopping to eat alpaca meat and buy only a few blankets, tablecloths, and scarves. The alpaca is slightly gamey, but good and with a squirt of lime, I highly recommend it. If nothing else, you won’t find a cheaper lunch otherwise! While Andrew and I sampled the street food, we lost my Mom as she ducked in and out of stores faster than we could take turns sharing our snack! We eventually found her again, helped pick out some gifts for some family members and continued walking through the market more for fun than for buying- at least, that’s what Andrew and I thought anyway! When we emerged, we found the most adorable baby lamb laying down in the middle of the sidewalk. Of course, we fawned over it (me and momma) while Andrew went in search for more street food to taste.

I asked how much he (she?) cost and tried to convey how much I wanted the little bundle of adorable (I mean, seriously, who wouldn’t?) but then explained that I didn’t have enough room in my bag. I think (key word: think) everyone understood and was amused by my willingness to take the little thing with me… if only I could (and Andrew… and my mom would have let me!)

On our way out of the market area, I also couldn’t resist taking a photo of this woman and her llama. Usually I try not to participate in photos for profit- something that we’ve encountered often during this trip, but I couldn’t help it after I saw a few tourists take a photo with the llama and then not give the woman a little tip. It’s a no brainer that if someone is dressed up or standing with an animal that they are there to make some money. It felt a little disrespectful watching others take photos but then walk away pretending they didn’t know any better. I took a few photos, disappointed the woman wouldn’t at least look at me during the process, but then put a couple soles in her hand as I shook it, thanking her for her time.

There were a couple of options getting from Chivay to Puno. We decided to take the slightly more expensive (and more comfortable) option after our unfortunate longer than anticipated adventure from Arequipa to Colca Canyon a couple of days before. A “3M” bus boasted a more touristic ride from Chivay to Puno with a few stops at the highest point in the Andes, a lake full of flamingoes, and at the highest lake in Peru. It was worth it- not for the stops, but for the comfort and the coca tea we were promised at the rest stop. I don’t normally get car-sick, but as I quickly found out, I do get altitude-car-sick. It’s not fun. Fortunately, coca tea helps.

When we stopped at the highest point in the Andes en route to Puno (and Lake Titicaca) my head hurt and I was feeling a bit squeamish, but got out to take a look around thinking the fresh air would help. We were greeted with a cold fresh air and surrounded by little stacks of rocks that we were told were prayers built by the Peruvian people. All of them were built as high as they could go because the closer to the sky they were, the more likely the prayers were to be granted.

We stopped off briefly at the highest lake in the Andes (so we were told) with just enough time to take a picture and then climb back on the bus. Everyone talks about adjusting to the altitude in Cusco, for the climb to Machu Picchu, but they seem to skip over the fact that Puno is higher than Cusco, and that Cusco is higher than Machu Picchu. They also seem to skip over the fact that driving from one of these places to the other is the worst part. My advice? Drink a LOT of coca tea. Take an asprin. And be prepared to feel like you’re slightly hungover.

(where we slept)

(where we slept)