|At six in the morning of Saturday, as the bus pulled into the bus teminal of Huaraz, I found myself blinking in the crisp moutain air, at an altitude of 3091m. What a change from the flat, desert like coast of Peru! The hot Ecuadorian Pacific coast, needless to say, feels like it belonged to a totally different era!
Actually, it wasn't as cold as I had imagined... Three layers (two T-shirts and my trusty fleece) were enough to brave off the cold. Especially when the sun's shining, a T-shirt was actually ok!
I had first walked myself to Alberque Churrup for a bed, but they were full. Nonetheless the friendly owner still persueded me to go up to the top for the spectacular views of the snowy mountains in the distance. It was lovely, but unfortunately I had to go elsewhere for a bed. Tried my luck at Caroline's Lodging, which received some very good feedback, and it was lovely too, though a bit more on the scanky side. The staff were great, and even offered me a breakfast for free!! They also have a large pile of DVDs I could help myself to, so that should keep me busy for a while!
Walked into town with Becky, my dorm mate from Canada, in search of some agencies to get some information on the famous trekking trips in the area. The first three agencies we went into were disappointing, where the staff seemed to be only ranting on about the altitudes of the various stops, rather than the point of interests and why people should be taking the trek. So went away still feeling slightly lost as to what to do for the next few days.
But no worries, as the high altitude makes it necessary to take it easy for the first few days to acclimatise, and it would be a good time for me to catch some rest (especially all the crazy bus rides!!) and some Spanish study too.
Found the Café Andino, which was totally lovely. Nice furniture, decorations, tea and coffee (and food looks good too, though too expensive to try), great views and lots of books to swap or borrow like a library (with a deposit). Spent a few lovely hours there studying in the morning, and reading up on the different hikes available in the afternoon. Enjoyed it so much I went back again in the afternoon.
Met Evan, a climber from Colorado who offered to take me along on his hike. He sounded like a very experienced hiker and was happy to show me how to camp etc... all for free, equipment included! So will be off tomorrow, only having to hike to the base camp (apparently an easy hike only a few hours long) then can chill for few days. Can make some day hikes from base camp, or can "guard" the tent, which obviously means sitting there and not doing very much! Sounds good to me!
[Was unable to return to my hostel last night, as encountered a (ski)masked gunman with a whistle in his mouth guarding the staircase down to my hostel. Was too intimidated to walk down the stairs, especially when he started blowing through his whistle. Convinced that he was calling his friends to join the "party", or warning his friends, who were obviously burgling some nearby houses, walked on desperatetly, looking for a taxi to safety.
The hostess of the hostel was worried all night, as were my dorm mates. She told me this morning that man was a security guard, and I heard later that other people in the hostels were also frightened too in the past. As for the ski-mask, apparently he was *cold*, but it wasn't really THAT cold, that he had to give the impression he was an IRA terrorist!!!!]
Today we went shopping in the market, and have probably bought too much food... the backpack is weighing slightly... Will just have to work very hard eating all the food, so won't have to lug them down the hills again!! It was fun browsing in the market, though was slightly distracting, but great fun tasting the random fruits on display! Were probably eating every twenty minutes...?!? Evan's also a vegetarian, so the dietary requirement's somewhat similar, great!
Yes, am very happy to find lots of exclusively vegetarian places in Peru so far... Even up here in the mountains, there are at least four resturants catering just for veggies. Some were pretty cheap too, like the restuarant for last night's dinner, a three course meal with drink costed only 3 soles (US$1)!!
Anyways, am looking forwards to the hike, and will not be able to update my journal for a while. Not sure exactly when will be back again, but probably Saturday night - though I might head towards some of the other towns as well..!