Concepcion is a small town high up in the Andes. We wanted to go there to visit Conventa Santa Rosa de Ocopa, an 18th-century Franciscan monastery that has a fine art collection and a magnificent library of over 25,000 volumes, including a 15th century bible. We booked seats with Cruz del Sur bus line, which had a reputation as the most comfortable of the options for the five-hour journey. As it turned out, thanks to roadworks around Lima and road conditions generally, that 5 hours stretched to eight. The numerous traffic jams allowed ample opportunity for food vendors to hawk their wares from the roadside.
Accidents, like a truckload of potatoes skidding off the road almost into a river, also slowed our progress.
The hapless owners were busy salvaging what they could of their load.
As we climbed higher above the coastal plain, switchbacks became commonplace.
Gradually, the mountainsides changed from sandy brown to red.
By the time we reached Ticlio Pass, 4818 metres above sea-level, the landscape had changed again to a black-and-white vista of snow and dark rock faces, punctuated by brilliant blue lakes.
As we descended slightly towards our destination, we began to see greener hillsides again, and occasional flocks of sheep or alpacas, often with a shepherd in attendance.
In the large town of Jauja, we transferred from our bus to a shared taxi for the last 20 km of our journey, arriving in Concepcion late in the afternoon, just in time to appreciate the setting sun highlighting the elaborate towers of its church.