Monday, March 16, 2020

Trip on / Trip Off

We were going to travel in Europe for 2 months: itinerary finalized, some plane and train tickets bought, a few hotels booked, and rendezvous with friends planned. As the days counted down towards our March 22 departure we ate down the fridge and pantry, pre-packed our bags in order to replace, repair, and refill as needed, and dutifully completed items on the now very familiar Long Trip Todo List. However...

Beginning March 1st, with the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the likelihood of us actually traveling diminished day by day, while the number of friends and family asking "Is your trip still on?" grew. By March 10 our response to said question was that we were prepared for any outcome. And we truly were. So when our flight from Raleigh to London was cancelled on March 12 we were not disappointed or sad, nor relieved. The 50/50 had simply become inevitable.

The trip is off. Our travel gear has been neatly stowed away; the fridge and pantry finally restocked this morning. Therefore we'll be home and can spend more time with friends, neighbors and family, jam with my music buddies, travel in the US to... Oh wait. Self-Isolation.

I write this post just after applying online for a refund for our cancelled flights. We bought the tix from Finnair which included codeshares from American Airlines and British Airways. The Finnair website says it may take months to process the refund. I'll report back.

Yesterday, I went to the SNCF (French Railways) website and in 10 minutes processed full refunds for one pair of normally nonrefundable tickets, and another pair of normally mostly refundable tickets. SNCF said the refunds will appear on my credit card in 3 days or less, and in fact just showed up as "pending" on my account. Wow!

I've come to the final paragraph of this post where I should "connect back to the introduction and provide a sense of closure". Hmmmm. I'll try. Although the trip is off we're not bummed. We'll continue to improve our French language comprehension by watching French movies and practicing yoga to French yoga videos. Also, it's a perfect time to plan and complete some around-the-house projects. And we're headed to Asia and Australia next fall and winter. Time to start planning?









Friday, January 24, 2020

Arequipa Revisited



In 2010 we stayed in Arequipa for one week at the Los Andes Bed & Breakfast. This time we walked into Los Andes without a reservation. "I'm sorry but we are full" said the man at reception, the same man who had checked us in in the middle of the night in 2010. We had a pleasant conversation, then went next door, ie, can see the Los Andes wi-fi signal, to Mango Hostel B&B.

In 2020 we have just one night in Arequipa, not 2 or 3 as originally planned, having used extra days for the festival in Chivay. Just enough time to walk around the Plaza and do some shopping as there's still some empty space in my bag.

I sat in the front seat of the collectivo van on the road from Chivay to Arequipa.
Arequipa, Peru

A view of Misti, the volcano that looms over Arequipa.
Arequipa, Peru

Lots of trucks headed to and from the mines.
Arequipa, Peru

Arequipa, Peru

Spiffy blue locomotives and gray ore cars, headed to/from the mines.
Arequipa, Peru

We arrived in Arequipa on Dec 8; the city center is decorated and lit up for Christmas.
Arequipa, Peru

Arequipa, Peru

Arequipa, Peru

Arequipa, Peru

The full moon behind the church steeple.
Arequipa, Peru

The next day, we made a stop at Mercado San Camilo and had lunch at Omphalos vegetarian restaurant before heading to the airport.
Mercado San Camilo - Arequipa, Peru


Arequipa, Peru

Arequipa, Peru

So long Peru. We'll be back. Hasta luego Perú. Estaremos de vuelta.




Thursday, January 23, 2020

Accidental Chivay

While in Cabanaconde I realized that the Inmaculada festival in the department of Arequipa takes place in Chivay of the province of Caylloma, not in the province of Arequipa.Terrible job on my part! Since Colca Canyon was even more underwhelming than we had expected, we decided to leave Cabanaconde to wait for the festival in Chivay, a transfer point that we had not planned to overnight at all. Are we glad! There is so much more than canyons and condors to Colca. Right from the window of our guesthouse, we can see volcano ??? sending up plumes all day.

Chivay, to the east of the canyon, is in the Colca Valley. While we found Colca Canyon lacking, we loved the terraces in the Colca Valley. We particularly enjoyed a walk from Coporaque to Yanque in the Valley, among the ancient terraces that are still cultivated.

Chivay is also known for the "intangible" UNESCO dance of Wititi, guys and girls sport the same long skirts! We only caught a short session, as we had to move onto Arequipa to catch our return flight. The part of Inmaculada we did catch seemed traditional and authentic.

As much as they promote tourism, the area still seem fairly authentic, lots of colorful costumes, friendly towns people.We even found a kind bike mechanic that finally was able to pull apart John's unretractable hiking pole.

More stunning views of Colca Valley on the bus back to Chivay.
Colca Canyon - On the bus from Cabanaconde to Chivay, Peru

We took a room at the Colca Andina Inn located on the pedestrian street with a super friendly staff and a rooftop terrace where breakfast is served.
Colca Andina Inn - Chivay, Colca Canyon, Peru

Chivay, Colca Canyon, Peru

Volcano view from the Andina's terrace.
View from our Hotel Room - Chivay, Colca Canyon, Peru

After strolling around the compact city center we walked across the Puente Inca and back, had some great views, and Sun-Ling made friends, sort of, with an alpaca.
Puente de Inca - Chivay, Colca Canyon, Peru

Chivay, Colca Canyon, Peru

Sun-Ling and her Alpaca - Chivay, Colca Canyon, Peru

The Iglesia is decorated for the Fiesta Inmaculada with the image of the Virgen in a position of honor.
Virgen De La Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Colca Canyon, Peru

The next morning, Sabancaya Volcano was smoking. We walked upriver to the thermal baths and back.
Active Volcano - Chivay, Colca Canyon, Peru

Thermal Baths - Chivay, Colca Canyon, Peru

Me with the bike mechanic who unstuck my hiking pole.
Chivay, Colca Canyon, Peru

That night the fountains were lit and there was dancing in the streets.
Fountain - Chivay, Colca Canyon, Peru

Wititi dancers. The 3 dancers with blue & red sashes, and one hand in the air are men.
Wititi Dancers - Chivay, Colca Canyon, Peru

Hats + Dancers - Chivay, Colca Canyon, Peru

Dancers - Chivay, Colca Canyon, Peru

Dancers - Chivay, Colca Canyon, Peru

The next morning we took a collectivo van to the town of Corporaque, about 10kms west, and walked to Yanque, then returned to Chvivay by collectivo. Awesome valley and volcano views. Here's the Iglesia in Corporaque.
Walking from Coporaque, Colca Canyon, Peru

The walk is a well signed, well trodden path all the way.
Walking from Coporaque to Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru

View back to Corporaque with Chivay way in the distance.
Walking from Coporaque to Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru

We pass some tombs (with skulls).
Tumbas de Yuraq Qaqa - Walking from Coporaque to Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru

We see Yanque below on the other side of the valley.
Walking from Coporaque to Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru

View to Yanque - Walking from Coporaque to Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru

Looking down to the Colca River and mirador.
Walking from Coporaque to Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru

Towards Sababcaya volcano group.
Volcanoes - Walking from Coporaque to Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru

The ancient terraces across the valley from Yanque are still farmed today.
Walking from Coporaque to Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru

Walking from Coporaque to Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru

The post-Incan village of Uyo-Uyo has been abandoned.
Uyo-Uyo, Colca Canyon, Peru

Uyo-Uyo, Colca Canyon, Peru

Uyo-Uyo, Colca Canyon, Peru

We pick up our pace after spotting a dark cloud above Yanque.
Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru

And cross the river on a new-ish orange bridge.
Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru

Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru

The Yanque Iglesia.
Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru

Back in Chivay, the arches and altars for the festival are going up around the Plaza.
La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

15-second video of an arch going up. Link here.
La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

Folks waiting to put their "plaques" on the Urinsaya altar.
La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

While seated elders look on.
La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

This guy is going to pour some alcohol into a post hole - as an offering?
La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

The work on the arched and altars continued into the evening.
La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

There was a flurry of activity in the church.
La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

And a pile of truckload of logs and brush was unloaded outside the church. Bonfire?
La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

The image of the Virgen comes out of the church and is paraded around the Plaza but does not go through any of the arches.
La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

The Virgin faces the Urinsaya altar.
La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

After the Virgin is returned to the church. The doors are shut, the bonfire is lit, and the dancing begins.
La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

The next day it's a repeat with a procession after mass. This time the Virgen goes under and through the arches.
La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

Urinsaya Corazon - La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

There's an alfombra outside the Municipal Building.
Alfombra - La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

Out she comes.
La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

And through the arches.
La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

15-sec video. Link here.
La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

Around the Plaza.
La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

Stopping at the Municipal Building.
La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

Flowers are thrown. A bouquet is attached.
La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

Back to the church.
La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

The music turns from somber to festive and the Virgen is spun around before being backed into the church. Link here.
La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción - Chivay, Arequipa, Peru

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