On arrival in Huaraz, I took one of the many taxis that were waiting for customers in the bus station to the guest house I had booked. I was greeted by Guilf and shown to my room, which had a mountain view through the rooftops. I had selected it because all the reviews were excellent but I was already beginning to regret coming here as it was so far out of town.
However, I went down to find out about walks and was offered breakfast by Maruja. This eventually arrived and was a delicious pancake, accompanied by a couple of crusts of bread and some extremely dark coffee, which thankfully wasn’t as bitter as it looked. Maruja started explaining the hikes to me in English, so that she could practice, and I continued with my limited Spanish. Guilf came and rescued the conversation with the result that I was put in a collectivo and packed off to Chuichumba, from where I could start the walk up to Laguna Wilcacocha, which was meant to be 2 hours up and an hour back. It took a little longer!
It was a beautiful walk that zigzagged its way up the mountain, through the small village of Santa Cruz and then onwards and upwards. Once I arrived, I sat and ate the roll that I hadn’t eaten from the bus, and, as I was doing so, a Swiss girl appeared from a totally different direction. She had gone off the path and taken various tracks that petered out so she had had to find another one. Three people that had been following me up, very slowly, also appeared so there was quite a gathering.
Whilst I was talking to the Swiss girl, a boy appeared on his way home from school and plonked himself down between us and asked a few questions. The Swiss girl was fluent in Spanish, as she had been working for an NGO in Colombia, so she had quite a chat to the boy. Once he had got some food, he took off, whereupon I was persuaded to walk around the lake, which admittedly wasn’t very big.
I then left her to have her lunch and I made my way very slowly back down the mountain, stopping to chat, in so far as I could, to one or two of the older folk, who sit on the walls and watch the world go by. I was exhausted by the time I got back and with the beginnings of a headache. This got worse on the way back in the collectivo but I had to stop in town to get some money. As per usual, I was limited in the amount I could withdraw but it did mean I was solvent once again.
Next stop was the supermarket where there was a sad lack of anything I really wanted, so just bought water, the old tin of tuna standby and cheese slices. Very inspiring! I also purchased some bread rolls (very flat looking things) and, as I was so hungry, a chorro (type of doughnut) from a street vendor (and delicious it was too) whilst I hunted for a collectivo to take me back to Palermo and the Casa. I couldn’t see a number 10 so ended up getting a taxi, whose driver didn’t know Casa de Maruja (turns out it was my pronunciation) but we managed to find it anyway.
I spent some time chatting over a cup of tea with Guilf, who is a guide for climbing and trekking and then what remained of the evening in my room, having arranged to go to Chavin on a bus tour tomorrow.