Day 336: Cabanaconde, Peru
Yesterday was not great. I had not only decided that I should switch hostels but that maybe I should leave town to shed the negativity I had self imposed.
I knew my next step would be Colca Canyon and while Arequipa is littered with tour agencies promising the best tour, I was overwhelmed with the choices.
Instead of shuffling among tour agencies lining the streets I hopped in a cab for the bus station and took the next bus to Cabanaconde, the entrance town for the Canyon and the home of condors.
During the 6 hour ride I was amazed by the countryside.
I had never really seen a canyon landscape and the grumpiness that has engulfed me suddenly felt like a distant memory.
Its beauty and vastness overshadowed any crankiness and once again I felt so privileged to experience this.
I found a great hostel in Cabanaconde but there was one small problem.
Everyone in my hostel was part of a couple. The kind of couply couples who are polite enough but don’t really want to hang out with you.
So instead I sidled up to the hostel staff who were quite nice and told me I could easily hike the canyon on my own for free, it was well marked and pleasant enough.
The next day I contemplated taking on the great feat and hiking it alone as a way to experience solitude and blah blah blah – really I was just trying to convince myself that being alone didn’t suck.
But then fortune shone my way.
Realizing that I’d be spending this segment traveling alone, I first spent the day in Chivay, a neighbouring town with a pretty square and small food market.
On the way back I got in line for the bus and a girl in front of me turned around and smiled.
Within a matter of minutes I met Mirijam, Lisa, Iwan from Holland and Jeremy a fellow Canadian who were also heading to Cabanaconde.
By the end of the bus ride they had invited me to hike with them and also to have dinner with them that night.
I was saved from hiking alone, getting lost and being eaten by mountain goats.
Besides the joy of being rescued from my own ineptness with nature, one thing struck me.
Something as simple as a smile made such a difference to me. It wasn’t a grand gesture, it didn’t necessitate a lot of effort, just a kind spirit.
I haven’t taken this lightly. I’ve learned that the smallest act can mean so much to other people. I will take this as a lesson and pay it forward to someone else who looks like they could use a smile.
But first I must climb this canyon.