QuickPeek: Rest. Hike. Cooking.

Though the little town of Putina was pretty nice and quiet, we decided to move on. The little rived that flowed thro the town was crazy polluted and the smell was pretty intense. The sun’s up early here, around 5:30 AM – More due to the change in Peruvian time rather than change of seasons really. But given the days are good lengths and there is little to do, we decided to generally sleep in during the mornings. Still I was up at 7 and packed up and headed to the marked for fruit juice for b’fast. The juice lady from yesterday was absent and we found another absolutely adorable juicer and we decided to have a nice big drink. For 3 Soles, we get nearly 500 ml of freshly squeezed juice and I cannot complain.

Once after the b’fast, we walked out to find a ride to Sandia. We spotted a big bus and decided to make a run for it. Luckily there was a bit of space, but unfortunately it was the last row. Good thing that I had a bit of legroom, but the driver was an absolute maniac and it was horrendous ride up and down the Altiplano. The views were stark but stunning and before long, we came up to the turnoff to La Rinconada and one could see a lot of mining operation (I suppose for a variety of things from Gravel to Gold), along the way. After climbing up to 4600m, it was time to head down the mountains towards the Amazonias. The driver was super crazy and we figured some sort of accident was imminent. Luckily, the worst that happened was an exploding rear tire and that gave a bit of a break from the jostling.

The landscape was incredible and I really wished I had my own transport – bicycle would be pretty harsh in these conditions, but still better than this bus. Once we started descending from the Altiplano, we got into alpaca farms followed by age old terrace farms on pretty much vertical slopes. The more we descended, the more incredible and astounding the scale of terrace farming was. There were hills, literally 500-700 m high which were scarred with centuries of constructed stone walls to aid farming. It was a sight to behold. The Inca Community and probably from Pre-inca periods, people have been living in these incredible hills I recon.

After numerous collection of switchbacks, we eventually came into the small community of Sandia and We were glad to be out of the roller coaster of a bus. It was nice to be in the midst of green hills after nearly a month of nothing but dryness and yellow. We walked around and spotted a hostel and after a bit of negotiation, got a spot for 9 Soles each! Sweet! This was an absolutely quiet village with nothing in terms of tourism. Just a really quiet spot for local commerce – Perfect. We spotted a small restaurant that was very clean and even had a couple of vegetarian options for lunch and at 5 soles was super cheap to boot. We walked around the little village, pretty much on every street while the light lasted and in teh evening, watched Starwars in Spanish and knocked off.

The next day, being sunday, there was a good sized market with locally grown organic veggies from the small farms and it was lovely to walk about. I so much wanted to make some pumpkin soup and other stuff to cook, but with no stove, I decided to forego that idea and instead bought a bunch of Mandarins from the region. They are in season and super cheap at the moment – A dozen mandarins cost 2 soles!

We went for a nice hike up the steep hills next to the village. The hike was great and given we were at 2500m now, the climb was super easy! Gosh, it was always a struggle at 4000m. The views into the village and the valley was stunning and it was nice to stretch the leg out and work out a bit. As I returned back, I saw a small dental office and decided to get my teeth cleaned. The only dental work I had ever gotten was getting a cavity filled and I decided to ask the dentist to see if he could refill it again. It was a quick procedure and unbelievably cheap. Sweet!

I went down to find some coffee and ended up at the only spot in the village with fresh coffee. The lady was super friendly and wanted to know if I could teach her some recipes – out of the blue. I suppose these days I have the chef’s glow and given an access to a stove and utensils, I was happy to share some simple recipes I had. I cooked up a pumpkin soup which turned out very well and the lady and her little daughter enjoyed it much. So much so that she invited me again to her place to make another dish. Hmmm. I figured I’d make something before we head out the next day and headed back to the hostel to watch Spiderman dubbed in spanish and knocked off!

Track Notes

Expenses: SG$ 35.98
Comments: Sandia turned out to be a surprisingly wonderful detour.