Dave and I have been in Huaraz for about 2 weeks and went on a sweet trek with Martin and Anke called the Santa Cruz trek. We had to take a couple of Combis to get to the start slash end of the trek (in the middle of nowhere!) coz we did it backwards – the ride there was mental, the last leg took about 3 hours on the windiest road ever and we weren´t even sitting on proper seats, facing backwards, good times. Coz it took ages to get there we didn´t start walking til around 4, so after a couple of hours we came to a tiny village and asked a woman where we could camp and she kindly offered us a place to sleep in her kitchen! We set up our sleeping stuff in her wee kitchen, said hi to some chickens, donkeys, pigs and a kitten, then followed her down to the village – she told us very excitedly that there was a fiesta on that night. We arrived at a grassy patch by another house and there was a couple of big pots of food and everyone in the village was having tea. They were so generous and served us up big bowls of soup and grain, and we sat with them while they chatted and a couple of people tuned up their harps and violins (I know, harps right! But there you go.) it was pretty surreal.
After tea we were invited into a building where we were told the fiesta would be, it turned out to be a church and after about an hour and after heaps of people were filed in and the harps and violions again tuned the service started. We had been ushered to the front, as guests are, and were sitting on the higher seats too, so we felt even more giant than usual!! It turns out it was some sort of celebration of Christ, and ministers from about 10 different villiages had all made the journey to this village – Huaripampa. They spoke in a mixture of Spanish and Quechua so we understood about 10% of what was said! But it was cool, they welcomed us and (according to Anke) said how although we were from different countries we one people, sharing the same blood, pretty awesome ay? They had some great singing, harps and violins plus a lady up the front who lead, singing a melody that was nearly the same as the melody that the violin played, really interesting. Also everyone sang with such ghusto! Pretty much the same dynamic (full bore) the whole time, but it was so great! Haha although one song actually went on for 20mins, and I´m actually not even joking, for serial. My fav part was when they used hymn books for a couple of songs so we got to sing too, and I went full gusto too – when in Rome ay? (Gardiner girls, you know what I mean, you would have been doing it too). Soooo 5 hours later (again, no exaggeration) we wondered if this service would ever end. It was funny, people all round the place were nodding off (even some of the ministers up the front), and our host mother had taken on the job of periodically going round poking people in the back and randomly clapping her hands to wake them up. I was one of them and was woken with a tap on my shoulder haha. It was 11pm come on! Not too long after the longest song in the world we were told that we were allowed to leave and that no one would be offended, so we (graciously ofcourse) did.
After a good sleep, we were woken at 6ish by some hail coming through the roof, and a cherry “buenos dias” from our host. Apparently the service didn´t end until 2am, and here she was already up and about for the day! She boiled some water on her fire for our tea and gave us some pan, then told us she was off to share breakfast with the rest of the village. She had shown us some things that she had knitted so we bought some wollys from her to keep us warm for the rest of the trip. Honestly, everyone in the village was so hospitable and kind, we were so blessed to have been able to spend a wee snippet of time with them and to get a glimpse into their extraodinary lives, and see the real commitment and enthusiasm they had for what they believed in.
Bro, and that was only the first night…I don´t know if I have the energy to write about the next 5…might be time to hand it over to Dave…
so on saterday after being woken up early with freshly baked bread and a gentle hail storm that came through the humble kitchen roof, we decieded to head off on our adventure. we walked for about 30 mins when the rain started to get heavier so we decided it was a good time to cook some oats in the porch of an adandoned shak. after our second breakfast the rain was still steadily streaming down but we set off anyway. We walked through some more lovely villages and tried our hand at rounding the horses in the feilds. It was rather pleasent despite the constant drizzel. We soon arrived at our first camp site at 3800 meters and it rained the entire night !!!
On sunday lets say i was not overly enthused to start walking into what looked like more bad weather, but to my benefit I was swayed by the encouraging words of my peers (and the the daunting prospect of having another 4 hour hell ride in a over-crowded collectivo if we retreated). The second day was a lovely walk up 500 meters to our second camp at 4300. Our hard slog was rewarded with the occasional views of the surrounding peaks, they where huge. When we set up camp we where lucky enough to do so in a fine spell. Matin and Anke found this totes dope rock in which we could shelter to cook our tea (two boy under a confined rock with fire is not a good idea but we survived). That night it rained yet again, at around nine a mule train passed our tents just decending from the pass (these locals are hard core). Jess got scared and made me check outside the tent because she thought she could hear a horse, it turned out to be Martin snoring next door (sorry Matin).
On Monday it was the day to cross the pass, we set off early (for us) at 9.30 and headed to the first lagoon befor the pass to have breaky. It rained on and off and we managed to entertain the cows whilst we ate our oats. It was then time to cross the pass, we had all built up this pass to be some insumountable object, and that after the pass it would be clear sailing with fields of sunshine and easy paths. The pass was easy, but as usual pride comes before the fall (or decent into the next valley). The pass was magnificant and we were all on a high, it even snowed which at first was magical however the snow turned to slush as we decended and then rain which didnt stop for an hour, we all hit a dark place on the decent as our dreams of an eaay decent where soon dashed. After some nuts and a pep talk (mainly incoherant altitude babble) we set off for our next camp. We rounded a bend and saw in the distance the camp, it was rather reminisant of cair paravel (you know that dope ass camp in narnia, the one they all meet up at before battling the white whitch). Any who we where lucky enough to have another break in the weather to set up camp, it was whowever too rainly later on to cook tea so we went without ( sad face ).
Sup, Jess here again, tag-teaming it ya´ll. Soooo uuuum that morning we got going and as we got a bit lower there began to be lovely flowers and a bit more lushness and birds (although, surprisingly, there was a lot of green and even some crazy big flowers that grow low to the ground at even the really high altitude). This day we crossed where there had been a big landslide about a month ago, it was pretty amazing how far it went, it actually spilled into one of the lagoons, and then further down turning the floor of the valley into what looked like a mostly dried up sandy river-bed, but it was still pretty pretty. Haha and Martin got sucked into quick-sand up to his knees coz we missed the track and didn´t want to back-track; turns out this short-cut was not infact a short cut. Surprisingly enough in the afternoon it began raining pretty hard, but we caught a glimpse of the campsight a wee way off and all began contemplating setting up camp in the downpour. BUT! Martin spotted some old mud-brick shaks not too far away and as we got closer he decided to check them out. After reporting back that there was no one in there, we clambered up the bank, over a stone fence and had a look. There were about 4 shaks, all with random bits and pieces in them (including a dead hanging chicken), and one that looked like it was used for cooking. There was a perfectly positioned pine-tree (and no other trees in sight) right next to the houses that made a spot completely sheltered from the rain, so we decided to set up camp there. We were all super stoked at this find, and even managed to dry some of our stuff out. We cooked tea in the cooking hut, using our cookers after the open fire inside smoked us out. That evening the rain stopped and for the first time we had a starry sky! It was so beautiful! After rum and hot chocolate we headed to bed ready for our early morning start for the final day. This time it was actually early when we got up, 6am (Chris, Dave gave us all a talking to, saying “If we were tramping with my dad we´d be getting up this early every morning and there´d be no complaining!!). It dawned beautifully and even though it was still a tiring last day, it was perfect weather, deep blue sky, and towering cliffs around us, not to mention more donkeys which Dave and Martin caught and rode around.
So, although the weather wasn´t perfect, we had a great adventure, climbing higher than we´ve gone before, seeing glimpses of towering mountains, eating MEAN dinners (lentils, rice, soy meat, and fried salami is AMAZING!!), seeing cacti, meeting wonderful people, hardy Peruvians running up mountains in sandals, and trekking with an o.k.ish couple (hoho bromeando, you guys are great). That night back in Huaraz we went out to a place that does the best curries and had beer and cider, and then we pretty much didn´t stop eating for the next two days straight.
In the few days after the trek we saw about 4 parades, a couple of night-time ones with children carrying awesome lanterns down the street, dinosaurs, trucks, ben-10, and then one morning it was the anniversary of Simon Boliva, and all the schools paraded down the street dressed in different costumes, even wee kids, sooo cute! They yelled out “Hola gringos!” and some of them posed for photos haha, kids are cool they´re so open to silly foreigners like us, it´s really nice.
Anywhoodle, we´re in Arequipa now, muy bonito, and in one day we´ll be off exploring the worlds deepest canyon – Cotohuasi.
I do hope you´re not asleep, that was a very long post, soz.
Jess and Dave