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Flight of the Condors

Our time in Arequipa and the Colca Canyon


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We arrived in Arequipa after a long night bus. It really felt like it took forever. Lewis and I headed out for crepes as we needed the sugar to keep us awake the morning. After the crepes and our morning briefing we discovered a chocolate shop and we just happened to walk into a chocolate workshop. Yep I instantly signed up. I discovered the guy who owns the shop was going to be away for the next few weeks so it was my last chance. It was an interesting class where we talked about the cacao, the cocoa butter and of course we made chocolate…we made chocolate drink the old fashioned way (with panella and chilli) and of course we made chocolates.

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I learnt a lot. The beans taste obviously comes from the fermentation process and the roasting process. In the Inca times they would add human blood into the chocolate to add to the taste. They would also grind the beans for 7 hours and mix it with water for six hours. These days the grinders take 96 hours to get the same micron size and consistency that the Inca's achieved!! Cacao beans were also a currency and to buy a woman was 30 beans and it actually cost less than it would cost to buy a turkey!
We learnt that the pods and beans are difficult to export especially back in older times as moisture will rot the fruit and cause mold on the bean. The mold will ruin the flavour.

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The aroma of chocolate usually comes from the butter and the taste more from the cocoa mass. The colour doesn’t really tell you if the chocolate is going to taste amazing. It is the aroma, the acidity and the aftertaste that determine good chocolate. After tasting different types and learning how to get all of the flavours from the chocolate it was time to make our own. The chocolate had been tempered and was ready to go into the moulds with our chosen flavours. It was chilli, coca tea and quinoa for me.
The class seemed to go really fast and we were done before I knew it. It was nice to get the chocolatiers opinion in comparison the the farmers which is what we had in Panama.

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It was off to try a restaurant that specialised in potatoes after my chocolate overlad. Everything you ordered was served on potatoes..as most of you know this is my kind of place! I ordered alpaca saltado on Andean potatoes. The alpaca was soft and delicious. I was given five different types of potatoes including the purple heart and the red bulls blood one. Each potato tasted different and was really interesting. My favourite was the purple heart, it just seemed to have more flavour. Lewis opted for the Aji de Gallina and yet again it wasn’t as good as the one we had made ourselves.

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That afternoon I thought I would trial a walking tour. To be honest with the lack of sleep I was really pushing it. I lasted an hour and a half before heading back to rest with Lewis. Along the way we managed to see a few of the old churches and the Peruvian last supper picture. We also learnt about the ice princess, a mummy of a young girl in the museum and got to see the famous volcanos that surround Arequipa.

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The next day it was an early start as we were heading to Chivay, the town at the gateway to the Colca Canyon. Our first day seemed to take forever! We stopped to see the llamas, alpacas and other native animals. We were going the highest altitude so far at just under 5,000 meters. The views were beautiful but I found it pretty hard to breathe.

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The next day it was an early start. We were off to Condor Cruz in hopes of seeing the condors. We did manage to see them and it was a great sight. The condors only come out to follow the thermal winds which means they need sun. When we arrived it was still (no wind at all) and there was no sun…it wasn’t looking good. Thankfully that changed and we ended up seeing over eight condors while we watched from the cliffs of the Canyon.

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We also got to see the Colca Canyon. It was a great sight and was unbelievably high. We sadly didn’t get to see it at it’s highest point but to be honest it was high enough for me. On the way back we looked at all of the terraces that have been built centuries ago by the Inca's. There is still a lot of plants grown on these. I understand the increase in Quinoa being grown is causing some erosion to these terraces which is sad as they are stunning!

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That evening it was a dancing show with dinner. The dancing is very theatric and they wear a lot of costumes.

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We awoke the next morning and the ranges around us were covered in snow. It had been a cold night but I didn't realise that cold. As we drove back to Arequipa there was snow everywhere and even some still lightly falling at the highest point.
That afternoon it was La Lucha sandwiches (so good!) before getting on another night bus. This time we were heading to Cusco to prepare for the Inca Trail.

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Posted by chellebelle 09:18 Archived in Peru Tagged snow chocolate canyon tea arequipa la dancing colca coca rugby alpaca altitude condors massive chivay potatoes lucha gadventures Comments (0)

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