Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day Two at the Colca Canyon

Knock Knock. I check my clock. Five aye em. Far too early. Knock knock. It's not looking to end. Knock knock. “I'm awake!” Silence. Back to sleep.

For the next twenty minutes I set my alarm to go off in five minute increments, telling myself I'll eventually get up. Five twenty seemed like a good enough time. Shower, pack, and down to breakfast. Breakfast is mostly fruit and coffee. Sleeping in an extra half hour suddenly seems like it would have been a good trade off.

Back on the bus we head to see Condors. At the canyon the mists roll in covering the world in blankets of white. The mountains disappear. Minutes later they return. And with their return, great condors floating on the early morning thermals. I take a picture, but my batteries die. Replaced, I go to take another, “Memory card error.”

Memory card error. I hope it's the camera acting up. It is not. Other memory cards work fine, and my card now reads as unformatted. One month of pictures lost to the digital void. Fantastic.

The condor flies close with the mountains perfectly lit in the background. Of course I have no way to shoot the images. Memory card error.

After the condors have left, and we return to the bus, I replace the card with another. I hope that there may be a way to retrieve the files once I get back to my computer. It's possible. Technology is a wonderful thing – when it's not wiping itself out.

I've lost around twelve hundred shots taken at 10MP, but I have a good six hundred of them backed up as 2MP files. That's enough for anything up to 8x10, and odds are I wouldn't be printing anything larger than that... still – it's annoying. And now the only copy of my videos are the low quality FLV files uploaded to youtube. At least I backed up the photos, and uploaded the videos two days back. The only photos lost are from this excursion.

Next up is a one hour hike, where I can retake a number of shots showing the green hillsides, and valleys. Not the same – but something.

The flatlands are fine – but the inclination leaves me breathless. Once more I question just how this Lares Trek is going to play out. I consider backing out – but I don't really want to do that. Nope, that would be a ridiculous idea. Onward I will push. Once started, it will probably be finished, yeah?

The hike leads us across grassy fields, where we need to climb rock fences built without mortar. Walking alongside the potato crops I hop a fence, and find myself in a pen full of cows. Their horns appear most menacing, and one starts to make quite the racket. It might almost be as distressing as a herd of stingrays, were it not for the fact that they cows were all tied to stakes firmly driven into the earth. Take that mostly harmless animals!

Yellow blossoms spring up from the green, a most idyllic location – if not for the fact that we were continuously pressing on.

It strikes me that I don't understand the purpose of hiking. I don't. This has been setting in lately, but as of right now it seems perfectly clear that there is little point to it at all. You walk through beautiful locations, and are offered wondrous vistas. But you keep walking. You keep pressing forward. And walking over uneven and unfamiliar terrain you find yourself often looking at your feet. Stopping for a picture would leave you far behind the group, and so you keep walking, pressing on, and then the hike is over. And what have you accomplished? You made it from point A to point B, but why? To say that you did it? To pat yourself on the back and feel some sort of accomplishment? How is hiking through these areas any different than spending an hour walking from one part of a city to the next out of necessity? The variable is in the location – and when you can't stop to hang out amongst the flowers, or take your time walking along the ridge line to look out at the world – well what's the point?

Will the upcoming three day trek offer experience, or will it just be something that I can later say, “I did this, and it was hard. Good for me. Oh you haven't done it? You really must.” Although – when questioned on why one must, will I have any answers?

Still – you do feel that sense of accomplishment, and you do get to pat yourself on the back, so there's that if nothing else. But there really should be something more.

Back on the bus we headed to a town for a buffet lunch. Or group remarked on how buffets are possibly the most dangerous place of all – since you spend the money for one piece of food, or many, you keep trying to stuff yourself regardless of if you're hungry or not. This is true. This is why we all packed in multiple bowls of soup, stuffed peppers, assorted meats, and no less than two desserts (cake, and pudding.)

And then it was another few hours back to Arequipa. On the way I finished reading Contagious. With nothing to read, the world became a boring blur. That and the surrounding views, now on the opposite side of the bus reminded me of all the photos I'd taken that were now lost to me. I was pretty hung up on this. I desired quite strongly to return to the hotel, grab internet access, and figure my situation out.

Once back I discovered a program called PhotoRec that might be able to help me out. But it was not available for my linux kernel – not easily enough, and I had no idea to randomly try to install it, which could lead to great doom on my machine. It pains me that I don't understand linux enough to figure this out. But the pictures weren't going to get any more wiped out, so I decided to save the card apart from others, and wait until I could find a Windows based machine with a USB slot and a memory card reader.

It will sort itself out in time. Either the data is there or it's gone. Either way nothing I could do now. And having exhausted all current options the worry evaporated from my thoughts, and that was that. Time to move on, and head for the bus station to catch a ride from Arequipa to Cuzco, our final stop for this tour. Re-met by our guide we were informed that his hairless dog now had a name: Cuzco. Not only a city, but also a character from a beloved cartoon show.

The air conditioning on this bus worked. I started reading the final Lord of the Rings novel, bt after about ten pages my eyelids grew heavy, and with the cooling fans above I could sleep. And I did. Kind of.

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