This past week I finished my first (and last) round of Peruvian midterms! I have been in Lima for 9 weeks now and have 9 more left! It has gone by sooo quickly!

Midterms were stressful, but I’m happy to say that I survived and had worried more than necessary (as is usual for me and test blocks). In about 10 minutes Calin and I are going to leave for our third side-trip of the semester. We’re going to Cajamarca!!! Calin is especially looking forward to this trip because she knows so much about the history behind the city!

Our previous two trips were to the Pisco/Paracas/Ica area (all three are cities in the Ica region of Perua) and to Huaraz. Both trips were successes!!

Trip 1: Pisco/Paracas/Ica

The Islas Ballestas and the Reserva Nacional in Paracas were beautiful. We loved seeing the animals, the candelabra, and the juxtaposition of sand and sea. The bodega in Ica, Vista Alegre, was also really cool! We took a tour of the vineyard and saw how wine and pisco are made, and then we taste tested! My travel guide (lonely planet Peru) was a little misleading because it was written pre-2007 earthquake. The earthquake hit the area hard, and the cities had done little to reconstruct. So we had less things to do than expected and cut our trip short– 2 days. We stayed the night in Pisco at a hostel, which I would recommend, named Villa San Manuelita! I think if I were going to do this again, I would do Huacachina (sandboarding,etc), Ica, Pisco, and Paracas all in a 4 day trip. Pisco is about 3-4 hours from Lima, and Huachachina and Ica are pretty close together and only a couple hours from Pisco. We took Soyuz. They have bus departures every 20 minutes to all parts of the South.

Ok–I’m leaving for Cajamarca now so I will finish this blog soon and add pictures!!


Trip 2: Huaraz

Huaraz was indescribably beautiful. The mountain views and lakes were breathtaking. We also got to see many campesinos/as in traditional dress, llamas, alpacas, and other farm animals. Huaraz is a 7-8 hour bus ride from Lima. We took Movil Tours overnight and purchased semi-cama seats.

Upon arriving to Huaraz, we called Carolina Lodging, a hostal highly recommended by my Lonely Planet. We, however, did not have very much luck with them. They wanted to keep our passports (which we didn’t bring because it’s unsafe to do so–We had copies), and since we didn’t have them they wanted a 100 sol deposit. 100 soles was more than 3 nights worth of payment. They also refused to give us a receipt for this deposit.. After much arguing (I was being polite, but there was a definite miscommunication and not linguistic), we ended up leaving the hostel.

We called another hostel, Alojamiento Soledad, and an employee came in a taxi and picked us up from Carolina Lodging. She was very accomodating, and after interacting with her, we knew we had made the right decision. The hostal was beautiful and economical to boot. It had a terrace with mountain views, a patio, a dining room,a communal living area with tv and couches, and brightly colored bedrooms (ours was yellow). Breakfast of té and pan con marmelada was also included!

After breakfasting, the empleada helped us find a combi to Willkahuain (we tried and failed to do so by ourselves :/) The combi was a bumpy and squished experience. We started from Huaraz and traveled up a gravel trail into the mountains, picking up more and more people along the way until we could not possibly fit any more. As uncomfortable as it was, I kind of enjoyed it. (Also–side note: the cobradors in Huaraz do not call out their destinations like in Lima. As a result, it is very difficult to decide which one to flag down.) In Willkahuain, are ruinas de la cultura Huari. We took a tour of these ruins with the help of a local guide who spoke Spanish, Quechua, and some English. (We took the tour in Spanish.) Our guide was really great, and he said he worked as a volunteer and not for pay….but really this means he works for tip 🙂 Later that night, our hostel arranged a taxi to pick us up and take us to the Mirador, a beautiful location with panoramic views of the city of Huaraz and a huge turquoise cross, covered in graffiti. After the Mirador, Calin and I shared a dinner de Brucheta (sp?– they were like shish kabobs) at El Encuentro, una restuarante bien bonita en Huaraz cerca de la Plaza del Armas. After dinner, we met up with some Oklahoma friends in la plaza and went to El Tambo., a pub with great live music.

The next day, Saturday, we left at 6:30 am for our trek into the Cordilleras Blancas. Our guide, a sister of the empleada at the hostel, met us at the hostel to take our taxi. We took a 3 hour taxi drive up to Laguna Llanganuco, trekked up 3 hours to Laguna 69, trekked down for 3 hours, and then took the taxi back down for 3 hours. This made for a long, very dangerous, but beautiful day. The taxi was not not not safe and the trek was soooooooooo hard (altitude and upward climb), but the views were absolutely spectacular. I’m glad we made it back safely! And I can say with confidence that the trek was one of my best and simultaneously worst experiences ever!!! Again, I cannot stress enough how BEAUTIFUL everything was (see pictures below). En fin, una aventura buenísima.

On Sunday, we woke up early and walked to the California Cafe for breakfast. This cafe is owned by a man from California–he hosts ultimate frisbee tournaments every Friday. This was cafe was so cool and the food was DELICIOUS! We had panqueques rellena con manjar blanca y fruta, huevos revueltas, pan con marmelada, yogurt, papas con cebollas, té, y un banana milkshake. This was a special (one plate!!) that Calin and I split. After breakfast, we went to the Museum of Anthropology, meandered around the plaza, took pictures with alpacas, went to an Incan market, and then went back to our hostel to catch a taxi to the bus station.

Our trip was awesome! But everytime we travel away from Lima, we are so relieved to be back again. I guess it is kinda becoming like “home.”

Pictures are all mixed together. In order they are of pisco, bodega, islas ballestas, our hostel in Huaraz, willkahuain, mirador, trek, museum, plaza de armas, …. if you click on them, you can see a larger view and also headings with the location.


One Response to “Half-way Mark! and 2 trips!”

  1. Helen on May 10th, 2010 10:47 pm

    Ah, all these photos look fantastic! I’m glad you’re having a good time, we’ll definitely have to catch up on these experiences next fall!

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