Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Travel Tuesday: Conquering Mountains in Huaraz

Nick and Whitey not looking impressed when I tell them it's time to go home
 after our scenic slum walk.
We arrived in Huaraz from Lima incredibly early in the morning and I have to say when I first took in the drab cement buildings in the gray, early morning light, I wasn't too impressed. It turned out that the whole town had been flattened by an earthquake in 1970 and so everything has been built since then. There isn't really any old architecture to appreciate, it's all about the surroundings here.

We decided to head straight for Jo's Place, the hostel we were staying in. It's run by an English man and his Peruvian wife, Jo was actually away at the time but his wife was really friendly and welcoming and made us the Full English that we'd eagerly anticipated, despite it being the off season and her not opening the kitchen then. It was funny to see all the familiar sauces on the table after spending so long away from England.

Wanting to see a little more of the town we decided to go for a walk. Nick had taken a bit of a liking to the hostel's dog, Whitey, who moped around waiting for his owner, Jo, to come back, so we took him along. The walk confirmed to us that there wasn't much to see in Huaraz, so as soon as we got back to the hostel, we arranged transportation to the outskirts of the town to do a walk around a mountain laguna. We bought food and drink and started preparing outselves for the hike the next day.

Unfortunately, Nick got really sick in the night and was up  with stomach pains all night, meaning that by 5:30am he only just fell to sleep and both felt pretty awful. It was obvious that he wasn't going to be able to do the hike, so I sat on the road side, waiting for our driver to arrive at 6am and to tell him we had to cancel.

When Nick started to come around a bit later, we took Whitey for another walk. We followed the river out of town towards the snow topped mountains in the distance. We eventually started to walk through the poorer end of town. There we saw women washing their clothes in the river, where further up a man was peeing into it. We saw sheep and pigs grazing on rubbish dumps and ducks waddling around old, dilapidated, basketball courts. It definitely was an eye opener. On the way home we stopped off for a drink at a tiny neighbourhood shop. The lady made a huge fuss of us and when we got talking she started to tell us about how her home was destroyed in the earthquakes and she'd had nothing after that. It was all really sad as the people there seemed to have very little already.

So there was no mountain climbing in Huaraz and no lovely scenic views. But I do feel like we got to see a different side of the town and it was nice to actually get to talk to some of the locals. We were quite happy to leave Huaraz and Nick's illness behind, but I don't think Whitey was happy to see us go!

Not the best chapter of our adventure, but a learning curve non the less.

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