We have found our way up into the mountains in Peru after we decided to get off the tourist trail, despite promises of constant rain and treacherous roads from the Lima locals. We are shacked up in Huaraz at the moment which is about 400ks north of Lima and sits at an altitude of around 3000 meters. The drive took us through miles of desolate sand dunes and ramshackle towns along the coast before turning inland and climbing steadily for almost 200kms. We ascended through the fog and popped out the other side just in time to see the spectacular sunset.
We rolled into town late and it seemed as though we had landed in the wild west. Dust, animals, buses and throngs of people spilled onto the unsealed road and we quickly gave up hope of finding our intended destination. We opted for the closest B&B as the clouds rolled over the mountain skies.In the morning we awoke to a blazing blue sky and climbed onto the roof to catch the view. The town lies in a valley surrounded by snow capped peaks, the highest of which climbs to nearly 7000 metres, the highest in Peru. The climb to the roof was enough to knock us both short of breath due to the altitude and thinner air.
We have now found ourselves a little lodge above the valley where we are now headed for the next 7 days or so. The dirt road that leads up to it passes through traditional villages built from mud bricks with its inhabitants still dressed in their traditional clothing. The women wear tall hats with wide rims, bright coloured skirts that balloon out to their knees and knitted stockings to keep out the mountain cold. They grow corn and potatoes, heard sheep, goats and pigs to sustain themselves. This is the real traditional Peru and not a show put on just for the tourists.
The next few days hold plans for hiking (when we catch out breath finally) horse riding in the mountains and soaking in thermal baths in mountain caves. We met a Canadian lady who is doing some amazing community work here and we hope to put together a little story on her. She has lived here for many years and understands the local culture, the environment and has a huge amount to say about the retreat of the glaciers which can be seen from her property. We will update you on what she has to tell in the next few days.
At the moment there is a large worker protest happening on the street outside the cafe which is threatening to get violent. They have pulled down the shutters and riot police are standing by. Just another day in this fascinating country! So we are about to head for the hills, if we can avoid the crowd and slip out up the mountain road.
We have heard about the disaster in Cusco and hope very much that it all is sorted out soon. Our thoughts are with those affected.
Stu and Em
P.S. Forgot to tell you that I had an Alpaca spit its food in my face yesterday. It was quite a traumatic experience and I don’t think I like them as much I used to.