Sunday 20 May
An Engaging experience....
Been in Peru now for over a week now. Bused straight down to Quito the capital of Ecuador from Colombia. Spent a couple of nights in Quito, exploring both the old and new town. Very interesting city and we were bummed we didnt have time to see Ecuador in more detail. We had to get outta there quick smart as I busted the cistern lid in the dunny of our hostel!....nah the owner was very understanding and we left on good terms.
After entering Peru - crossing the ¨worst border crossing in south america¨, according to the lonely planet - relatively smoothly (making sure not to change any cash as heaps of it is counterfeit) we made our way to a coastal town called Mancora. Took a while due to our bus being rear ended by a car, and the entire town coming out to have a captain cook and chuck in their two cents worth. Luckily nobody was seriously injured. Just a few egos I suspect. Mancora a heaps chilled town, stayed in a mellow little camp just back from beach. Lots of Hammocks! Found some intersting jewellery and bought some petrified sharks teeth off this bloke, heaps cheap and so amazing...apparantly 5000 years old when the deserts were ocean. Some still fixed to stone. He even had a massive petrefied/fossilised whale vertebrae. A little big and cumbersome to lug around in my backpack.
From there we booked a bus south to Chimbote, went to catch the bus as 9.30pm only to be told it wasn't running (it had failed), luckily found last two seats on another bus leaving at a similar time only to the city before the one we wanted, Trujillo. Caught that, it was a terrible journey, then switched to a nice bus to get to Chimbote where we waited a couple of hours to be crammed into a small bus for 8 long hours on one of the worst bus journeys we've had to date. Em and I got last two seats next to each other. Em wedged into the back corner, on a bench seat, me jammed in between her and a woman with a baby that she was intermittently breast feeding throughout the trip. Ems knees barely fit behind the seat in front and mine had no chance especially when the inconsiderate fella in front decided to recline his chair a touch. It must have been extremely uncomfortable for him too as my knees were basically pushing thru the front of the seat directly into his spine! SuperDave saved the woman in the next seat from an imminent scorpion sting. I spotted it crawling over her headrest and warned her before getting it outta there. The road was dirt and bumpy most of the way and included in the price was a free Chiropractic session as we were seated over the back axle and scored some serious hang time with spine crunching landings. Approaching the town of Huaraz which is where we are now, was something special as snow capped mountains soaring to heights of almost 7000 metres, changed colours orange, pink, yellow etc in the warm glow of the fading sun.
We spent our first day in Huaraz wandering around getting used to the altitude....we are about 3100 metres above sea level. We bought some Llama stuff, jumpers, beanies etc. Sooooo soooooft. very sensual..... Em looks hot in her blue and pink knitted jumper with a row of Llamas prancing across the front.
Staying in Caroline Guesthouse, a homestay with the most friendly and helpful family running it. Cocqi, who works here drew us a map and lent us some gear to hike to a place called Lago 69 where we camped the night in breathtaking surrounds. It was a bit of a mission but sooo worth it. We had to catch a collectivo bus to a town an hour away, then a collectivo taxi - a corrolla station wagon with Em & I in the front seat (a bucket seat), three adults and two children in the back and another man in the boot. We travelled up into the mountains for another hour to the start of the trail. It took us about 3 long & arduous hours and we were hurting....a direct result of the altitude which we were not acclimatised to. It was tough going with all our camping gear and food on our backs. Very slow indeed. We Camped in the most unbelievable location 4200 metres above sea level in a huge ampitheatre of grass surrounded by massive snow capped peaks and glaciers reaching into the sky above us, they loomed overhead looking down on us as if to say ¨what are you insignificant little specks of dust doing inside my domain¨. We were all alone up there not another soul for miles and as the sun set we enjoyed some wine laying rugged up on our mats watching natures slide show as the colours played across the peaks and the clouds up amongst them. The moment was perfect and I chose it to suprise Emily by asking here to Marry me. She didn't suspect a thing and after overcoming the initial shock she said an emphatic yes!
That night was extremely cold and due to the altitude (or was it the giddyness of just getting engaged, who knows), Em and I didnt sleep a wink, both had headaches and aching limbs, I dont think the wine helped up there either. Next morning we climbed another hour to the Lake which was at the foot of a massive glacier, the colours were amazing.
Heading back down was much easier and as our tent came into view we spotted a number of the nomadic free range cows making a direct b line for our tent. Luckily they didnt trample it and we were graced with their presence, all 30 or so of them, as we ate our breakfast. We also discovered that cows love porridge, & pasta, & powdered milk, & sugar, grapes, bananas........
We have spent yesterday & today just chillin', mentally preparing for a 4 day hike tomorrow. Still getting breathless just climbing the stairs. Last night we went to the market with another aussie bloke who used to be a chef. We got some fresh produce and fish. He cooked us up a gourmet dinner of fish with broadbean, basil and cashew puree, & an eggplant parmesan with roasted capsicum etc. When he heard our news Brent opened a nice bottle of Argentinian Cab Sav he'd been saving for a special occassion. We ended up sitting with the family at their dining table & having a wonderful night conversing in spanglish.