Another day in Lima

Trip Start Jul 12, 2006
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Trip End Aug 23, 2006


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Friday, August 4, 2006

Iīm in Lima, and as I said in the last posting, I rode an overnight bus here from Huaraz. It was in no way comfortable--hot, stuffy, and not a lot of leg room. But I got to Lima alright, and after arguing with a taxi driver about where my hostel was, I got a few hours of sleep--i.e. 3.5. Anyway, Iīm using today as a sort of regrouping day after spending four days in the most gorgeous mountains Iīve ever seen (Iīm hoping that Iīll be successful uploading pictures today, theyīre unbelievable). Iīm flying to Cuzco tomorrow morning, where Iīll hang out a little (Iīve been told multiple times that itīs a really cool city), then head up to Ollantaytambo (where there is an old Inca fortress), from where Iīll ride a train to Aguas Calientes, the town nearest to Machu Picchu. Iīm hoping to watch the sun rise at Machu Picchu on Monday morning.

Anyway, enough about where I will be going--Iīve done quite a bit in the past ten days or so since my last detailed posting. I went from Loja, Ecuador to Piura, Peru on a bus. We crossed the border at Macará. The officials from both countries were relaxed and fairly friendly, and I had no problem crossing into Peru. I then spent a day in Piura, which is a pretty nice town to spend a day in. Itīs dry and gets hot in the afternoon. You can tell what time of day it is by the number of people walking around--once the sun got high and the temperature rose, the streets were dead. People sat in the shade or in heladerías (ice cream shops) until later in the afternoon, when it cooled off. At night the streets are full of people walking to dinner or around the main plaza, where I saw some street performers do a comedy routine. It was pretty hilarious, and there was a big crowd standing around watching.

I got there on July 26th, two days before Peruvian independence day, and the start of Las Fiestas Patrias, which lasted until the 29th. Although I couldnīt see them, I heard quite a few fireworks (nothing like the US) being launched all over the city.

I was glad to leave on the morning of the 28th, as I had walked past every shop in an eight-block radius at least three times. I flew to Lima, but arrived a little too late to make it to the city center to see the inauguration of Alan García, but I watched the military parade on a TV while I ate lunch at a little place near the hostel I stayed at. I stayed in Miraflores, just south of Lima, where itīs a little more upscale and safer. I found the whole place a little too touristy and a little too much like LA, so I decided to go to Huaraz the next day. It turned out to be a great decision.

I got a bus to Huaraz at 1pm the next day (Saturday), and arrived in time to check into a nice hostel and get some dinner. The hostel arranged a day hike for Sunday around Laguna Llaganuco, a beautiful lake in the mountains about three hours away from Huaraz. The hike was easy, but a good way to get re-acclimatized after spending a few days down at sea level. I also met a couple of girls from Lima who were there on holiday (sorry, Iīm picking up some words from all of the Brits Iīve been hanging out with), and Iīm going out with them and their friends tonight.

After we got back from the hike, I headed for the center of Huaraz (which is a really cool mountain town--lots of people there for trekking) to find a guide agency for a three- or four-day trek. The most popular trek in the area is the Llaganuco-Santa Cruz trek, which usually takes four days and climbs up to a pass at 4750m on the second day. There was one leaving the next day, and the price and timing were right, so I signed up. For $100 I was part of a group that got good guides, transportation to and from the trail, food, donkeys to carry everything except our day packs (it made the trek a LOT easier), and tents.

The four days I spent hiking and camping in the Cordillera Blanca were some of the most amazing days I have ever had. The first day was an easy slightly uphill hike to the first campsite, which was at 3850m. The second day was the hardest, climbing 900m to Punta Unión, a pass at 4750m. I reached it in 2.5 hours, then waited for the others to join me. We had lunch there but it was cold, cloudy, windy, and it began to snow so we didnīt stay long after that. The rest of the day was a descent to the campsite at 4250m. That night was by far the coldest, but the views more than made up for it. The third day of the trek was almost all downhill or flat valleys, except for the morning, when we hiked to the base camp of Alpamayo, a beautiful peak which is very difficult to climb (or so I am told). After the base camp and a glacial lake just above it at 4500m, the day was filled with beautiful flat valleys. A lot of farms from the Huaraz area bring their cattle to these valleys to graze, and we passed by a lot of cows and sheep. Towards the end of the day, another guy in the group, Jerry, and I were a bit ahead of the rest. To the left of the trail was a bull just like many others we had passed, which was grazing peacefully. The trail bent across a stream about 10 yards in front of the bull, and Jerry and I said hello to a Peruvian guide crossing the stream in the other direction. I had taken about three steps away from the stream when I heard a clattering, and I turned around thinking that the guide had slipped and fell. This was not the case. For one reason or another (our guides think he taunted the bull), the bull charged the guide (not ours). The guide said he saw the bull coming and turned to face it. This is about the time I heard the clattering and turned around. The man was completely off the ground, riding the bullīs head. The bull ran with him for about five yards before throwing him to the ground in the creek, and trying to gore the guide with his horns. The whole thing lasted no more than six seconds, whereupon the bull stood menacingly a few feet away from the fallen guide, who laid in the creek bed moaning. Jerry and I had run uphill away from the bull by this time, and the rocks we picked up gave us some sense of security. We told the guy to wait until our guide arrived, who then hurled rocks at the bull until it moved away. Getting hit in the head with a big rock made the bull extremely angry--it hoofed the ground and bellowed and I thought it was ready to charge again. Anyway, we moved around it carefully and reached camp safely, but I still canīt believe that it happened. Whatīs even more disturbing is that the guide waited to let me cross the creek first, and had he not it very well could have been me riding the bullīs head to the rocky creek bed.

The fourth day was short and uneventful, and we got back to Huaraz around 3pm. I got a room with a hot shower until 10pm, when my bus left for Lima. I went out for beers and dinner with a few people from the trek. It was a good way to end my stay there.

I think thatīs about it for now--Iīll try to post a few pictures from the trek.
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Comments

karenakridge
karenakridge on

wow
Hey, Ben!

I am green with envy. The trekking sounds and looks simply spectacular. Our little day in Quito seems like nothing now! Enjoy Peru for me :)

Karen

mollyreddy
mollyreddy on

Ben!
ben i think are you forgetting important things in this entry. such as the guide who got attacked-- was he bleeding? was his life threatened? did he walk back down with you guys and get medical attention? and what was the aftermath? did he sustain any injuries, etc.? i am worrying, fill me in.

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