Sat 11 Jul 2009 70 °F
Exactly 33 hours after the double decker VIP bus pulled out of Terminal Terrestre in Cusco, we amble into the tall metal gated terminal for Movil Tours buses in the city of Huaraz. From southern Peruvian highlands to central Peruvian mountain range, in only two buses and one short (thankfully) layover in the fog entrenched capital city of Lima. (Side note - I will never forget these two bus rides, beautifully uniformed attendents on loud speakers directing us passengers to only use the bathroom on board to urinate, if another need occurs, please alert the attendant who will alert the bus driver, who will pull over on the side of the road so you can do your business).
Six months ago we had never heard of Huaraz, Peru or the Cordillera Blanca, this most amazing mountain range. And now that we are here in this ramshackle city that was almost entirely rebuilt after a 1970 earthquake, at this moment on the balcony of our hospedaje with a wide immense view of the white capped mountain range beckoning adventure, I am so thankful that somewhere along the way in our travels someone told us that we if we like the outdoors, we must see the Cordillera Blanca in central Peru.
Less than 24 hours here and we have: changed from the expensive Lonely Planet Guide recommended hostel to an lovely hospedaje around the corner (half the price and we had quite an interesting chat with the senora who has a sister living in Maryland and they both wonder where all the Gringos are because "everyone in America speaks Spanish"); ran into Canadian friends that we met two months ago on the altiplano jeep trek from Chile to Bolivia, gotten the low-down on rock climbing, trekking, and a possible ascent of a 6,000 meter peak; ate a $2 almuerzo (lunch) among the locals; and, matched the mountains that we see in the near distance with the ones on the handy free tourist map guide.
There are a lot of peaks....something like 50 peaks over 6000 meters all in this 180 km area, we North Americans have just 3! So...what to do...we have 16 days here, and need to acclimate just a touch before we head out into the beautiful mountain playground. There are so many possibilities, my pen and notepad have been busy scattering notes. The sun just set beyond the hill and the temperature dropped 10 degrees, time to put on all of my 8 items of clothing (yes, I am so sick of each of these 8 items and yes, they are falling apart).