Such a strange feeling, to look back on your time in a place and realise that a whole 9 months have passed. All years are like that, tiempo es raro… when I first arrived here I settled in so quickly I soon began to feel like I had been there for months when in reality it was a few weeks. Then I wrote a list down of the foreigners that I had worked with since I arrived. In total it sums up to a whopping 72 so far. WOW! And that is discluding the Peruvians that have worked in SKIP too. And then it kicked in how long I have been here. And I seriously believe that I could stay away from England for the rest of my life…but knowing that my flight home is in one month has made me think about England a lot, miss it, miss my bed, my friends, my mum, my cat! The food…and the more I think about it the more I want the time to fly but it only goes slower and slower. And the fact is I should be living it up here in my last month! Should be pushing England back and shouting “VIVA PERU!”.
And I have been out a lot, but I do not agree that that counts as making the most of my time here, sure I can go out and get drunk and dance with my friends but I should also be scooting around seeing everything I still have to see, and meeting the last handful of great people before jumping on my plane. There are a tonne of places in Trujillo that I still have never been to, and I can hear the ticking.
Easter happened to be my last free holiday time here, so I made the decicion to go back to Huaraz. Only going for 2 days was no where near enough – especially after going and thinking that it was the most beautiful place I have ever been! So off I went, accompanied by nearly all the other volunteers! And we had some great times… this time I had packed the right clothes and was READY to do some serious hiking, horse riding, glacier trekking and MORE! MY friend V wanted to come but had rad the weather forcast and found out that it was going to rain for the whole time we were planning on going. So we went and she made the plan that if it rained she would jump right on the first bus back to Trujillo and head up North to the beach. Lucky that she came, as we lucked out with the weather and it was super duper sunny for the whole 5 days we were there.
I even got sunstroke! Or mildly anyway, hiking up to Lake Churup. The son of the owner of our hostel had mentioned that it was around 1 hour away in a car, and 30 minutes walking to get to a beautiful lake. We managed to get some taxies for 200 soles and I was outraged. 200 soles for a few hours?! What a joke! So I was determined to make my own way there, I was certain there would be a bus or a village nearby and that I coudl get there for a few soles. I looked and asked around but no responded how I wanted them to! We managed to bargain down a taxi to 150 soles and we were off. About 2 minutes into the journey we were turning up a bumpy, dirt track and up through hamlets, intense quinoa growing and donkies and pigs everywhere ❤ So after an hour of driving up this track I started to feel that it was worth the 150 soles we were splitting between 4. I love exploring places which require travelling for time on dusty tracks….you know it is going to be 100% worth it. So we carried on driving, our bags were in the boot and the door of the boot would dramatically lift right up when we went over bumps! So we kept looking back to check all our things were still there, and we were driving for at least another 40 minutes when the engline started smoking, we were driving through serious puddles in an average car. But we were soo high up and so far away from Huaraz I had faith that we would get there. We drove past some real posh hotels too,right up in the middle of nowhere, with spectacular views of all around, hammocks to chill in looking out at these views, llamas in their gardens…paradise! After a while more we finally got there. It made me laugh that the driver thought that the walk up could be done in an hour!!! Anyway we got there, and it was coldddd, after driving up and up. And then we were off! Super steep climb in at least 4000 metres up. The first few minutes were very challenging. You heart feels like it is about to explode and I developed a pretty nasty wheeze! But I had been in huaraz for 3 days so I had climatized more than I had for Lago 69. At one point a friend had to sit down and rest as he got completely dizzy and had no idea where he was!
But once you get into your rhythm it gets easier. And I have to say, It has to be the winner…of the best views I have ever seen on a walk. We could see the snowey peak we were headed to most of the time, and when ever we turned back we could see an infinate number of miles over the hills. And the reason we all decided we wanted to go was: because it was supposidly an amazing walk, not crazy popular like many things are in Huaraz, and parts of the walk had rope to climb up the rocks! YESSS! The rock climbing was insane, totally dangerous, with the rock not attached to the rock in enough places, leaving you to swing around if you lost footing. A man in front of us dislocated his arm loosing his grip by smashing his arm against the rock. There was no one to help, no signal, only a long climb down if you broke something. It was difficult too, I am pretty nimble being small but my heart was in my mouth and my feet slipped off and along rocks, and as my sweaty palms slid down the metal cable, getting cut and leaving drips of blood on the path. And the climb is quite a substantial climb, I loved it! But I was very worried about how I would get down!
I was one of the last to arrive at the lake and sat down to make a sandwich next to a dog/wolf that liked the cheese more than me. And a friend decided crazily to have a dip in the icy water…
We were not there for long, I could feel my headache developing so I decided to chew some coca leaves with the lime but it was too discusting so I quickly spat it out. And the others follwed the crazy guy who swam in the lake further up, in hope of finding another way down. Me and 2 others did not want to risk it so we headed on down to the dangerous way down, which with one slip could send you plummiting a good 50 meters down the rocks! The others found a path and ended up getting down before us after all! And a friend did have quite a painful fall but no bones were broken. And when I got back to the hostel at 8pm the guy there was like “WOW, you took that long walking up there and back?! You only just got back now?”. But there is no wayyyyy on earth even the most experienced walker from huaraz could walk up there in 30 minutes! Maybe an hour if they ran!
The next day I was hoping to go to Pastoruri to see the glacier… But with the snow retreat of 15% since 1970 I decided against it! Friends had been and had different views, but one said that it was in fact very sad, to see a receeding glacier. Plus another told me that a few years ago you could go skiing there, walk on the glacier and visit snow caves and that now you can only go and stand and look at the snow, and watch chunks of ice dramatically falling away from the glacier so I decided no. With 260 glaciers in the Cordierras Blancas, there must be so much melting. The mountains that I see and think are beautifully snowey are in fact a very very sad sight.
The next 2 days were spent attempting to get to Chavin de Huantar, the Chavins were a major pre-inca culture. It is actaully crazy how the whole world know about the incas but they were actaully one of the shortest living ancient cultures and how there are such incredible cultures that lived in Peru, ruins still standing, untouched and unknown by many…for example Marcahuamachuco, an archeological site of pre-incan ruins only 4 hours from Trujillo. Although less well-known than other sites, it is considered significant and has been referred to by archaeologists as “The machu picchuof the North” and “The Jewel of La Libertad” and it was amazing. In another holiday we also got a taxi up a dusty track for around an hour, bits of land slide on the road and half the road fallen down the mountain in the heavy rains! And no one else was there, we had the whoel sight to ourselfs and it was bigger than MP with views that drown your importance)
Anyway back to Huaraz, so one day got on a combie and they said they would take us to a place called Yungay and from there we could get another combie to Chavin. LIES, in fact they took us in the other direction for a whole hour and a half, and left us in Yungay with no time to head back to Huaraz and to Chavin. So pissed off we decided what to do. We ended up going to Laguna Chinancocha, where V had been the day before on the way to Lago 69, and where I had already been last year. But oh well, it was super beautiful and we went on the lake on a boat for a quid, and saw a llama…and my friend nearly swam but then didn´t have the balls!
Then we headed down to Yungay which has Huascaran, Peru’s highest mountain, no more than 15 km east away! It is 6,768 metres above sea level! On May 31, 1970 the Ancash earthquake caused a substantial part of the north side of a mountain, to collapse and an unstable mass of glacial ice about 800 meters across at the top of Huascarán to fall. This avelanche completely buried the town of Yungay, killing 20,000 people. More than 50 million cubic meters of debris slid approximately 15 kilometers downhill at an angle of about 14 degrees, and apparently speeds between 200 km/h to 400 km/h were achieved 😮 Only 92 people survived, most of whom were in the cemetery and stadium at the time, as these zones were the highest in town. The only things that partly survived were: part of the cemetry and the jesus statue that looks up to the mountain.
So we made it to the “national cementry” which was beautiful, full of roses and plants and so peaceful. With the mountain looming in the background, accessorised with a rainbow that must have been there for the whole time we were in the old Yungay.
The next day we decided to try again, Chavin. Got a shared car there, paying 25 soles each so I knew it was going to be a journey and a half. And it was incredible! 3 hours of stunning scenery, and not a soul in sight. I was worried about coming back, we only passed 2 cars and 1 combie in the whole 3 hours. The first bit was through country where you could see the snowy (or not so snowy!) peaks, and then we were on the other side of the river and driving through hills and hills of hills, no animals or ANYTHING in sight, not even trees. And then it was down and into a canyon, and then a lake came into sight and some more snow, and we passes a combie that had broken down so we got out a few minutes and sat overlooking the lake and the mountains behind it, and nothing else, no buildings or rubbish or noise anywhere. Then we went down and down and down on a dusty unmade road, so far down I thought we would finally reach the earth´s core! And after 3 hours we got to Chavin, to realise that the sight was shut…DUHHHH MONDAY! So then we went back to Huaraz after climbing a hill. True though, not everything works out perfectly how you want them to. And if you try to save money too much – it doesn´t always work! And we could have easily been stuck in Chavin all night as it was sooo far away from everywhere and missed our bus. But thankfully we didn´t and I was able to go to work after an 8 hour bus journey back and 1 hours sleep at home!