XXXVII. from Canon de Colca back to Arequipa
We breakfast at the Hotel Kuntur Wasi, as the moon falls behind the hills and a somewhat unhappy local man bails out his burro from the burro jail. On the way out we stop briefly at Cruz de Condor, but only briefly. There are condors there this morning; and plenty of spectators; but somehow a second day feels flat and uninviting. I’m too used to enjoying nature’s wonders in relative solitude; or the disappointing fact that we’re leaving Canon de Colca brings me down; or I’m still a bit weary from yesterday.
As we reach A____, a town in which we’d stopped for awhile on the way in, it seems transformed. The short street that runs from the Plaza de Armas to the main road, past the church, now has some outdoor stands in it; though we’d seen almost no one on the street or in the plaza, now there are Peruvians and tourists [mostly from elsewhere in Peru, it appears], ice cream vendors, and folks dressed up to pose for pictures with their birds, llamas, alpacas, or pretty clothes. And they’re doing a brisk business.
You can even get your picture taken with a bird on your head, although why anyone should want to do so isn’t readily clear to us. The cow has nothing to do with it, just strolling up toward us from the Plaza de Armas, past the church, which today is open for tourists to look at.
We take a few pictures like everyone else. Tough to resist. Little girls in their Sunday best with baby alpacas even cuter than they are. Our fellow tourists shooting pictures of each other with birds on their heads. On the way out of town, it’s refreshing to see some plain old alpaca just hanging out in the fields, not brushed and fluffed and manicured for photographs.
I suppose I shouldn’t make fun. In my dotage, I’ve actually started to shoot photographs with people I know in them. But they generally aren’t standing there smiling at the camera, let alone with birds on their heads. They’re doing what they’re doing — too often, also shooting photographs, or video — in a natural way, albeit in an interesting setting. Ain’t nothing wrong with shooting the ones where your wife or husband stands as stiff as a stick figure in front of the famous church, waterfall, or pre-Inca ruins, looking proud. But I don’t keep a family album. Or a family, for that matter.