I went early morning for my meeting with Juan Pablo, Peru’s Suzuki motorcycle country director (Kilometer 29,958; Lima’s Derco office, 21-Sep-10 @ 10:20). We had a very interesting and enlightening conversation about the moto industry in Peru. It was a long meeting, definitely well worth it but it meant I left for Huaraz just after noon time. Normally, it should have been ample time to reach Huaraz except it was raining and I was again caught up in Lima’s horrendous traffic and its many road constructions and detours. When I finally exited Lima I was hit by a heavy fog, reducing my visibility to less than 5 meters. An hour went by before I exited the fog only to be stopped, yet again 😦 by the Peruvian Transit Police (Kilometer 30,164; intersection with Huaraz route, 21-Sep-10 @ 15:00). This time they had a radar and they “caught” me riding 71Km/h in a 65Km/h zone. Great! One cop started writing me a ticket in the crazy amount of S/.680 == U$D240! I laughed at his face and bluntly told him this is theft and I will not pay. Who in Peru can pay the almost minimum monthly salary as a fine? Surprise, surprise, he then hinted that allowing me to leave depends on my “cariño”, i.e. my love. Well, he wasn’t going to get that today. But he was a stubborn little fellow and kept me there waiting…. enough time for me to see him stopping other cars, usually luxury SUVs, and showing them the same frikin 71Km/h radar reading!. But these people were used to this game and their love consisted of handing their license papers with S/.10 Nuevo Soles before immediately being let go. All this in a very ordinary and casual way, right in front of my eyes. I guess you figured out what I needed to do…. Damn, at this rate, that little fucker can buy a truckload of chickens every day ;).
Kilometer 30,388; Huaraz, 21-Sep-10 @ 19:00: Huaraz lies in a valley between the snowy Cordillera Blanca to the east and the dry & windswept Cordillera Negra (i.e. no snow) to the west. And what an extraordinary sight is the Cordillera Blanca. Snow capped mountains and glaciers litter this chain, each summit more magnificent than the other. It is home to the Huascaran, the highest peak in Peru @ 6,768m.a.s.l. and the beautiful pyramid shaped Alpamayo. Looking at these peaks just made my heart race and I quickly jumped on the phone to call Roy: Let’s climb one of them! Unfortunately, Roy was getting ready for his jungle work and anyway, it was the end of the season and dangerous snowy conditions are upon us… no worries, it will be for another year.
There are still many things to do in Huaraz.: I visited Chavin de Huantar, the religious site of the “oldest” civilization of the Americas. (Side note: Caral culture is 1,500 year older than Chavin, dating back to at least 2,500B.C. (and older), yet there’s a heated debate between archeologists/researchers upon calling Caral a civilization: no major ceramics, sculptures, drawings, musical instruments, tools, weapons (hunting or military),… were found there. I visited Caral’s pyramid complex back in January and I am no expert but to my eyes and after what I saw, Caral definitely deserve being called a civilization). Chavin archeological site has recently been painfully restored after a mud slide in 1945 covered the complex. Nowadays, I could visit the many ceremonial plazas, temples, the labyrinth like quarters and not to forget its many monolith and stone carving representing their gods. I also visited and hiked Laguna Llanganuco before heading back to town to prepare for my 8 day Huayhuash trek. This trek is extremely popular with Israelis and a group of 18 of them (most were loud and “agitated”) registered for the hike. Ouch! That doesn’t sit well with exploring nature. To my luck, 5 of them, extremely cool, funny and open minded decided to split from the others for exactly the same reason and hike it separately: they too wanted to fully enjoy Huaywash, undisturbed, dwelling in its beauty and absorbing each moments and I was more than happy to tag along. To do so, we had to leave Huaraz at 2:00AM and start our hike by 8:00AM to get a 1 day head start over the other group. During the next 7 days, I joined Ira, Shachar, Amir and Shay to hike the incredibly marvelous cordillera Huaywash, a route lying between 4,000 and 5,100 m.a.s.l surrounded by a gorgeous mountain chain of breathtaking snowy peaks & glaciers and walking through steppe plains beside gorgeous turquoise lakes reflecting the mountains,… Add to that we really hit it out as a group (and with Theo and Tonio, our guide + ariero) so we had great fun all along our hike (Ori, the 6th guy in our group had to drop off of the hike and return to base after the first few hours due to severe altitude sickness). Bref, I would describe it as the absolutely most beautiful trek I ever did. Again, pictures speak a thousand words and I’ll let you enjoy all 120+ of them ;).
And that’s not all: As a group we developed such a strong friendship that we decided to undertake a few more activities together… read all about it in my following update.
or click on “page 2” below to see the photo album.