Huaraz: Puppies and Ruins

Trip Start Oct 06, 2010
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Trip End Jul 30, 2011


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Flag of Peru  ,
Thursday, July 14, 2011

The bus through the Cordilleras mountains into the large town of Huaraz (100,000 people, 3100m above sea level) was long and a little cold, but well worth the effort. We arrived in the evening and got someone to drive us to one of the cheapest hotels in town. For about $12 for both us we got a private room w/ bathroom, T.V. and wireless internet. We settled in a bit, then went out with our new Irish friend Tony for a slightly too expensive for what we were getting Italian meal at I can't remember the name of the place. Then we went to bed early to try and catch up on sleep, as neither of us slept well in Lima: the traffic noises never died down and our pillows were very lumpy and hard.

The next day we explored the town. We found out that all tour agencies close between 11 and 3, there is good Chinese food for $1.50, the surrounding mountains are beautiful and that Huaraz has adorable puppies in the pet stores (my favorite were two black shar-pei puppies that looked like they were trying to eat each others faces). After booking a tour to Chavin de Huantar we then found out that the people of Huaraz are horrible at giving directions. We wanted to find the ticket office for Movil tours to book a bus down to Trujillo on the coast, but were sent in on a wild goose chase by at least 2-3 people who sounded like they knew what they were talking about. In the end we gave up on asking directions and went back to the hostel to check the lonely planet, finding it very easily after that.

The following day we were off in the morning to Chavin, the "center of a cultural and artistic revolution in Peru that took place between 600 and 300 B.C.E" (Wikitravel.org). They were apparently one of the major cultures in South America that revolutionized some architectural and artistic techniques that then spread throughout many other cultures. We first went to a very well set up museum that had some amazingly detailed stone heads and other artifacts taken from the main temple compound. A very big temple complex, Chavin is still in the process of being excavated by people from all over the world - Japan just built them a new state of the art museum. The site was not on the top of a mountain like most others, and had no defensive powers. Instead, it was a site for the people to make sacrifices and other rituals year round. There were some impressive courtyards (one round!) and very elaborate structures. There were also a series of man-made tunnels under the main temple, with impressive ventilation systems, natural light, communication tunnels and construction. We were told that they think these tunnels, which only had one exit and entrance, were used to convert the local people to their religious ways if they had any doubts. They would trap them in the tunnels and pump in or force them to take San Pedro, a heavily hallucinogenic drug made from a local cactus that is still used to this day in many shamanic practices.

After the tour, we made if back just in time to get to the bus station, grab an egg sandwich (a fried egg in a cheap bun with mayonnaise and lettuce) from a street vendor and jump on our overnight bus to Huanchaco, hoping for some sun and beach time.
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