Farewell Huaraz

28 04 2010

We headed off to Cafe Andino for breakfast. It seemed like so long ago when I’d last had a decent cup of coffee and the T-Rex breakfast burrito was awesome. After that we headed to the Movil Tours bus station in a tuk-tuk to book our bus ticket up to Trujillo for that evening.

I spent most of the day desperately trying to get my blog up to date after all the days in the hinterland; although we did head out in the afternoon to get a slice of cake with Leon (Dutch) and Elin (Swedish) who Julia had been chatting to on the roof terrace.

In the evening we all headed off to Pizza Bruno for dinner and then Julia and I had to dash off to catch our bus. The bus was quite comfortable (easily comparable to Cruz del Sur) and it boded well when they put Clash of the Titans on. Unfortunately the DVD kept skipping huge swathes of the film so eventually I gave up watching it and watched the recently downloaded Shaun of the Dead on my laptop instead.

Back to civilization

27 04 2010

On the way down, I finally found the energy that I’d been lacking all week – perhaps it was the prospect of getting back to the real world – and walked down the valley quite fast. It also helped when I put my iPod on and was practically dancing my way down the rocks.

Views on the final way down

After about 4 hours steady walking with very few breaks, we got to Cashapampa. Here, for the first time on the whole trek, someone actually checked our ticket to ensure that we’d paid the park entrance fees and then we caught a collective taxi to the nearby town of Caraz. Our original plan was to take another trek from there to another nearby lake but by this point I think we both felt completely trekked out and we’d seen enough lakes so we decided to head back to Huaraz. After a quick pit stop to get a soft drink (Kola Real!), we got another collectivo (my rucksack was in my lap for the whole 2-hour journey) and headed back to Jo’s Place.

Reunited with all our remaining clothes and, of course, my laptop, we showered and chilled out for a bit before deciding to head back to Chilli Heaven for dinner again. This time I decided I was going to have some Mexican food – although in the end I got some chicken hoisin fajitas which I guess would be a Mexican/Chinese fusion. Whilst there we bumped into the Irish couple from the Way Inn – Bill and Laura – and they also joined us for dinner.

This time I did treat myself to a Leffe Blond but I finished off with a local beer – my budget isn’t that accommodating! Simon gave us the details of the best bar in town but we were all quite bushed from our days of trekking so after dinner we headed on home.

Laguna Churup

23 04 2010

It was hard emerging from under the down duvet and heading off for breakfast – this time I had poached eggs (apparently huevos escalfados) with toast. The local cooks had no idea what a poached egg was – so Jeff stepped up to the plate and cooked them for us. After breakfast we collected our packed lunch and headed off uphill towards Laguna Churup. This time our trek was much more successful and we headed in the right direction from the get-go.

Jumping for joy after reaching the lake

After 3-hours uphill – including a horrible scramble across some boulders (at times it was more like mountaineering) – accompanied once more by the dogs Princess and Albert we finally made it to our destination. We stopped off for lunch and then headed back down the hill towards the lodge. The walk down was much less arduous and I couldn’t believe how quickly we ate up those kilometres after all the effort that we’d gone into to reach to top.

After a bit of relaxing at the lodge we said our goodbyes and headed back into Huaraz where we checked into Jo’s Place in the centre. We then headed into town to rent some camping equipment – tent, stove, sleeping mats and for me a sleeping bag – before heading to Chilli Heaven for dinner. We struggled to find it at first and after asking multiple people for directions where they gave us shrugs and perplexed looks we finally found it in a little courtyard hidden away behind dodgy looking alleys.

Chilli Heaven is run by a Simon, a motorcycle fan from Burnley and they did all my favourite cuisines – Indian, Mexican, Thai. After some deliberation I chose the Chicken Balti – my first curry since the “World’s Most Dangerous Vindaloo” back in La Paz. It was awesome. I was contemplating washing it down for a Leffe beer but 19 soles seemed a bit steep – even for such a luxury imported delicacy – so I had a local beer instead.

When we left, Simon gave us a Tabasco-sized bottle of mango and chilli sauce. This proved invaluable for spicing up our camping fare over the next few days.

Finding the source of the Rio Cojup

22 04 2010

It is quite an unusual story of how we found ourselves checking into the Way Inn Lodge about 40-minutes drive outside of Huaraz. A few weeks beforehand I’d been sitting in the bar of Loki back in Cusco and had a brief half-an-hour chat with Jessica from Louisiana. She was heading off to Machu Picchu the next day but she was talking about this fantastic getaway that she knew of in Huaraz. She even punched the URL into my browser to show me how nice it was. I’d not even heard of the town but since it got mentioned a few day’s later by someone else I wanted to include it in my itinerary of the North of Peru. Luckily this also coincided with Julia’s plans so I looked through Firefox’s history and made a reservation.

When I bus arrived in the early hours of the morning in Huaraz I gave the lodge a call and they arranged for a taxi to pick us up: at least this way we knew that the taxi driver knew exactly where the lodge was. We were greeted getting out of the taxi by Princess, one of the lodge’s dogs and then met the proprietress, Becks (English), for our check-in. She ran the lodge with her somewhat eccentric American (tautology?) partner, Jeff.

Way Inn Lodge

We were staying in the dorm – affectionately known as The Cave. It is probably the cutest dorm that I’ve ever seen and the fact that all the beds had goose-down duvets (or doonas as Julia referred to them) was an added bonus. Not since my stay in Posada del Sol way back in Humahuaca in Argentina have I been so impressed by the aesthetics of my accommodation.

Since we hadn’t stayed the previous evening we had to pay for breakfast and both ordered the pancakes with fruit salad – our food bill was destined to be 3-times the price of our accommodation. The pancakes were so nice that even one of the local dogs whipped a pancake off my plate when I went off to get the syrup. Julia bumped into Brigid, a German woman that she’d last seen when she was doing the Colca Canyon and then I ran into Jessica who I’d originally got the recommendation from. She was relaxing there before returning to the US.

In the morning we just chilled out reading in the hammocks and after lunch (some home-made pita bread filled with vegetables and a side of delicious humus). In the afternoon we decided to take the short and easy trek to the Rio Cojup but we went the wrong way from the very beginning and after trying to rectify our mistakes but getting nowhere we eventually gave up. We’d already walked for 2 hours and ended up back at the lodge and the whole trek was supposed to be 2.5 hours. The dogs from the lodge, Princess and Albert accompanied us for most of the walk but even they seemed to give up with our dithering manoeuvres and headed back to the lodge long before us.

Sheep on our aborted hike

In the evening we had dinner with the other residents – Jessica, Brigid, Sarah (an English woman who helped out at the lodge) and an Irish couple (Bill and Laura). After dinner we played Janiv with Jessica, Brigid and Sarah but eventually only Julia and I were left playing. Julia introduced some new rules that I didn’t know about yet (if your score reached a multiple of 50 it was halved) but I eventually managed to beat her.