Since we last spoke, the two of us have made ourselves right at home in the mountains, complete with hand knitted jumpers and socks. Altitude sickness knocked us about for a while as we shacked up in a lodge which sits at nearly 4000 meters above sea level. Brewed coca leaves helped to ease the headache after Panadeine no longer had any effect. We have had blue-sky days everyday, which is highly unusual for the wet season, with the occasional hail dump in the afternoon.
Two days after arriving in the hills we decided we were being altogether too lazy so we packed a lunch and made plans to hike up to a nearby mountain lake.It is an acclimation and training hike if you want to get into the real mountaineering, which we have realised takes a lot of training due to the fact that the air is so thin up here. We packed the dogs into the car (first time for them, they both went a bit green) and set off. The scenery here is just so spectacular that we worked through an eye-closing headache and sub-zero winds to make it to Lake Churup, another 700 or so meters higher than the lodge. There are some photos in the gallery so check them out if you get a chance.
After a few nights at the lodge (check out www.thewayinn.com if you are heading this way) we hopped over the valley to The Lazy Dog Inn (www.thelazydoginn.com) which is run by a Canadian couple. We had heard about an NGO they run and were hoping to put together a story on their work.Diana is very passionate about working in the local community and has started a program for local kids and mothers to prepare them for school. Most of the families that still live in the traditional way are Quechua speakers, which has no relation to Spanish at all. School is taught in Spanish and often leaves these children behind. Most of the mothers are also illiterate. They are trying to build a community center on their property to continue their work and are looking for donations if anyone is interested (www.andeanalliance.org). We spent two days there, interviewing Diana and some of her volunteers and we hope the piece might help her cause.
Diana is also a passionate horse person and cares for around 8 horses, most of which are Paso Fino, horses local to the area. I managed to get Stu into the saddle for a stunning ride around the mountain area. Considering that I was trained in an English saddle and spent most of my teenage years battling with the art of dressage, I took to the cowboy style riding very well! In fact I might be a convert…!
We have also made it our mission to put together a piece on the glaciers of the Ancash region. There are around 630 glaciers in the Cordillera Blanca and it contains a third of all the world’s tropical ice. Twenty two percent of this has been lost in the last 50 years. The retreat of the glaciers here is more apparent than anywhere else in the world.We have been to visit several of these, high up in the mountains and are looking into some of the impacts on the local communities, which can often be devastating. The flow of water into the Amazon is directly affected by glacier retreat and geological instability and water supply is a worry for the millions of people who inhabit both sides of the mountain range. If you are interested in learning more go to www.mountain.org.
So that is just a taste of what we have been doing. We are looking forward to joining our Intrepid Travel group on Sunday and hope to visit some of the Intrepid community projects as well. There are several based around Cuzco and the Sacred Valley area. For a look at those, go to www.theintrepidfoundation.org.
See you soon!
Em and Stu