Sunday, September 8, 2013

Cañon Del Colca!!!

Sometimes there are just no words.  Sometimes there are things which we see, which we experience, to which words can do incredibly little justice.  Even pictures, I’ve been coming to realize, show incredibly little of the full picture, almost nothing of the smells, the atmosphere, the full surroundings.  The past two days we spent on an excursion to a canyon about five hours from Arequipa and I’ve just felt repeatedly in awe.  In awe of the sights we’ve seen, in awe of the power around us.  It has been an amazing experience but over and over I was simply silenced by the majesty of God’s creation.
 We set off at around eight o-clock on Friday morning, leaving a already busy Arequipa to the Peruvian countryside.  Our trip included a few interesting things of note. 1. A quick stop to take pictures of vicuñas, a animal sort-off like a small deer, a stop which ended in a snowball fight.  2. More stops for llama and alpaca, at times they seemed to graze together by the hundreds. My little sister would absolutely adore them.  3. Another stop at a local coffee shop, where we sipped on very authentic coca tea.  Not quite sure what sort of leafy materials we were drinking, but a very interesting experience.  4.  A climb in altitude to a lookout at about 16,000 feet, after which we descended to our hotel and dinner (never had eaten alpaca before), another hour or so away.
Impossible to describe the whole weekend, and so I want to attempt to describe two moments, one friday and one saturday.  I apologize because there is no possible way to begin to describe in words or pictures the full experience, but I am going to try as much as I can.  Our destination friday was a hotel in the Colca valley.  Nestled in the Andean Mountains, the valley included a few small villages and a lot of local agriculture, all still functioning since even before the Incas. Nestled maybe isn’t the best word to describe this valley, it is absolutely enormous.  It spans miles across, including various small villages and a huge amount of agriculture (see picture!).  

After a short hike and an evening well spent at local hot springs on Friday, a large group of us went for a walk outside our hotel.  Darkness had fallen as we left our hotel for a walk down an old gravel road down the valley.  I have never seen stars like that Friday night.  So bright, so many, a single whispy cloud streaking across the sky. Here we are, the Andean mountains surrounding us, feeling so incredibly small at the vastness of God’s creation around us.  But I think what we found most profound was not the stars nor the mountains.  A small group of five of us went a bit farther ahead than the big group we were with down the gravel valley road.  We were walking downhill, and dipped down farther into the valley.  We got far enough ahead that we couldn’t hear the group behind us, and so we stopped just to take in our surroundings.  We fell silent and just listened.  The next three minutes were amazing.  Never have I heard a silence so profound.  The valley, the mountains, the stars.  And the silence. Just absolute silence.  By the moonlight I looked around at my four friends, seeing tears rolling down two of my friends’ faces.  I don’t know how to describe this moment further, but powerful only begins to describe what we felt.  Something bigger, something greater, something so incredibly vivid.  We walked a bit further down the valley and spent the next half hour laying out under the stars, just in awe of the power around us.
The next morning we got up and drove an hour and a half up the side of the valley (yes, the many steep drops tested my fear of heights) to view the Colca Canyon.  This third most visited tourist destination in Peru is the deepest canyon in the world, over 13,000 feet deep.  A river runs down the basin, and Andean condors are a major attraction.  These near-threatened birds can have wingspans up to 10 feet, and we were lucky enough to see them soar majestically through the canyon.  We spent a few hours just trying to take it all in.  The valley is incredible.  So incredibly big, so incredibly grand, so incredibly stunning.  Feeling so small, so humbled at the creation around us.  I just felt so powerless.  How do I even begin to soak it all in?  How can I even begin to respond?  But we ended the excursion as a group together, just worshipping our Lord and Savior.  Sitting on rocks overlooking the canyon, we simply sang together, and it was the perfect response to our weekend.  What a better culmination to the trip than just to adore the creator, the creator of the Andean mountains, the creator of Colca canyon, the creator of the silence we had felt so vividly.  And the creator of us!  A God this big took the time to handcraft each one of us.  And as I sat overlooking the canyon, singing to the creator, I realized there wasn’t much more I could do.  I can’t begin to describe the canyon.  I can’t begin to take enough pictures. And I definitely can’t begin to explain why a God this enormous created and loves each one of us.  But I can worship, worship the creator.  No better way to respond than that.



Profe no quería juntar :)


El grupo!

Ps. Thanks for many of the photos, Emily, Emily and Lindsey!

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