Hooray! I left Lima on Sunday 23rd May on an 8-hour bus journey to Huaraz in the Cordillera Blanca. After about 3 and a half hours, we finally left the fogginess that is coastal Peru and began to see some rather lovely landscape. Huaraz is a town surrounded by mountains, many of them snow-capped, which was levelled during an earthquake in the Seventies. As a consequence, it´s not really much to look at. However, there´s a lot to look at FROM Huaraz, especially from the roof terrace at Caroline Lodging, which I can wholeheartedly recommend. I turned up wanting to do the Santa Cruz trek and not really sure how to go about it. Luckily, while I was having a beer in the kitchen with two French-Canadian girls from my dorm, I got chatting to two guys who were looking for more people to join a trek they had already arranged with an agency in town. Easily done! One of them was Israeli and had managed to get a good deal. The dueño at the hostel (a Dutch guy) told me that there are three gringo price brackets in Huaraz: the lowest is for Israelis (they´re so good at bargaining), the
next is for Europeans, and the highest is for "stupid Americans".
With the trek already arranged for me and due to start on Tuesday, there was nothing to do on Monday but sit about in the sun with some others, look at the incredible view, drink beer and accidentally make holes in my only pair of jeans.
The next day, we set off very early for what we thought was a two-hour bus ride in one of those mini mini mini collectivo buses. Seven hours later, we arrived at our destination, cross and crooked. There was an incredible view of mountains, lakes and glaciers from up there, which cheered everyone up somewhat. The walk to the campsite was only three to four hours and not too hardgoing. Except for my pobrecita knee. I was already hobbling, though it was only the first day, and the donkeys were carrying all of our stuff. Brilliant. There were six of us on our trek - Marlo and Dan from Minnesota/New ORleans, Michael from California and Danny and Oded from Israel. It was a nice bunch. Danny and Oded managed to find time and space to pray with the box and scarf
thing (I´m so sorry, I´ve forgotten the names of them) every day, which I quite admired. Michael and I ended up being tentmates, which was unfortunate for him that night as I was freezing and probably wriggled a lot.
The second day of the trek was the hardest. It involved a steep climb to something like 4900m and I´m pretty sure I got altitude sickness on the way up. I kept thinking I was going to faint. By this point, Michael and a couple of others had contracted some kind of diarrhoea bug so we mostly all looking out for each other but only able to concentrate on the next step. I thought I wasn´t going to make it to the top, but eventually I did. There was a proper treat at the pass - a huge glacier right next to us. The walk downhill was hard on my knee but easy on my altitude sensors. We stopped earlier than expected in a gorgeous little spot near a river. The six of us left our guides cooking and went for a short walk to see...I´m not sure what, actually. Dinner was eaten in the teepee tent and rum was
dispensed an ladle as a post-peritif. While we were talking with the guide about Spanish and Quechua, it came out that Danny was actually from Ukraine and we attempted a conversation in Russian. That is, he spoke and I stuttered. I couldn´t remember the simplest words! That infidel, Spanish, has taken over my brain. I got roughly no sleep that night because it was so incredibly cold and the sleeping bag I´d hired from the agency was so rubbish. I had all my clothes on, including thermals, and my coat. Still too cold. Michael was also up all night with his gut rot so at least we were able to keep each other company. I mostly wasn´t in a good mood when I got up in the morning on this trek.
The thrid day was flatter and a little more boring, scenery-wise. My knees grannied up on the downhill section at the end and I was very glad to see the tall, spacious minibus that came to meet us. When we got back, we relaxed by ordering pizza and watching some basketball. (I want to say b-ball but I keep getting that mixed up with baseball.)
exhausted the following day and didn´t do much at all, except watch Touching The Void in the cinema room with Marlo and Dan. If you haven´t seen this, I recommend it. It´s about some mountaineers who attempted to climb a mountain not all that far from Huaraz and what happened when it all went wrong.
I left Huaraz bound for Trujillo and Huanchaco on the coast, not really sure what I would find. As it turned out, I didn´t like it, whatever it was.
Tot: 2.321s; Tpl: 0.046s; cc: 17; qc: 63; dbt: 0.0448s; 2; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb