Pinguinos y Ruinas

We thought this place was a good way to break up the long drive to Arequipa, but once we saw how beautiful it was, we ended up staying an extra day.

This place was actually an Incan fishing village where the local catch would be stored and dried before being hauled all the way up to Cusco on one of many Incan Trails.

We also learned that for a small tip, one of the guys working at the hotel would take us on a hike at 5 AM to see penguins. Arequipa was still a long way and we wanted to avoid the afternoon sandstorms on the next drive, so this sounded better than an alarm clock.

The next morning at at 4:45 AM, I heard someone outside the bus whispering ‘pinguinos, pinguinos‘. I had slept in my clothes but was fumbling around for a hoodie. I opened the hatch to wake up the boy, but he wasn’t moving. I shook him, I whispered in his ear, I tickled his feet. He wasn’t getting up.

So, it was just me and Eduardo.  It was still pitch black at 5 AM, and we had to use flashlights to cross the beach and head over the pre-Incan tombs first. The stars were out in full force and I was so glad I decided to get up.

The ruins were burial places, but the stones used did not stand the test of time. They had mostly crumbled, so only a few above ground structures were still standing. It was dark, and I couldn’t see much with my headlamp. I’d check it on the way down.

We climbed higher and higher and finally the sun began to come up. We were high above the caves where the penguins lived, and apparently they come out at 6 AM every morning.  The waves were really strong on this particular morning, and they waited until about 6:15. Only two popped out of the cave and rode the waves back and forth for about 20 minutes before giving up and going back into the cave. Adorable.

Climbing back down was a little difficult. The terrain is slippery, and you slide a lot. When we got back to the ruins, I took another peak. “Eduardo, who’s bones are those?” I didn’t really believe his answer until I got a closer look.

Yep, the original human bones of a pre-Incan civilization. I checked out several tombs, they all had bones. These above ground structures held 5-6 people. The more intact underground ones (there were holes so we could look in) usually just held one or two people. I certainly wasn’t expecting that this morning!

Back at the van, Jason had loaded up and was making coffee. Bode was just getting up. We lounged around a bit and let Bode burn off some morning energy by helping the locals collect a seaweed they sell to shampoo companies. It’s a tough process involving pulling a heavy clump out of the ocean and piling it up on top of the sand dune. Luckily, Bode was cool with picking up the small pieces that had washed up on the beach.

I sent the boys back up the hill to see the bones before we left.  Great 5 year old stuff.

This stretch of coastline is similar to driving Hwy 1 in California. Precarious roads with awesome views. Because of the tight turns, of course there were accidents. One major hold up was due to an overturned double-trailer semi beer truck. Fortunately, he was carrying empties.

We also saw more and more people collecting seaweed for shampoo. This just seems strange, but one guy told us he makes lots of money selling it.

After a few hours of driving, we stopped in Camana for lunch. We wanted to check out the last beach we’d see before heading high into the mountains.  It was pretty dreary and really windy, so we decided not to camp and to power through another 3 hours of driving and get to Arequipa.

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