So, Peru is divided into three main geographical regions: la costa, la sierra, y la selva. This weekend for the first time I ventured out of the costal region and into the BEAUTIFUL, GORGEOUS, INCREDIBLE, ASTOUNDING, AWE-INSPIRING mountains!!!!! Don't get me wrong, the coast has some beautiful views and I love Lima but the Ancash region is something else... It is the center of all hiking and mountainiering activity in Peru and pretty darn famous world wide. I believe it has more summits above 6,000 m than anywhere else except the Himalayas. The Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Negra, two mountain ranges of the Andes running parralel to each other, form an incredible valley where we spent two nights. I 'm telling you, the views of sparkling lakes, snowcapped peaks, and native peruvians in their bright skirts are picture perfect!!!
So, we left at 5 in the morning with the SUV packed full of people (my sister, three friends, and I) and all the necesary stuff for a roadtrip (suitcases, yummy food, and of course cameras). I spent 8 hours inside that car so thank goodness my campanions were super cool people and loved talking and listening to music. Most of you know that in general I despise sitting still for long periods of time so you will be glad to hear the hours actually passed quickly. GASP! I spent the first bit sleeping but after the breakfast stop my eyes were glued to the scenery flying by outside the window. It changed from city streets to sanddunes to agricultural fields to the beauty of the Andes mountains. The entire route is dotted with little villages and farms and many of the people have retained their ancient Andean ways. I saw tons of the typical bright skirts and women carrying their babies in the colorful sling blankets. We saw people walking along the road with herds of cows, goats, sheep, donkeys and I even took a picture with a llama!!! :) The first day we stopped in Huaraz to eat, explore the plaza de armas and arrived in Caraz around six. We stayed in a bungalo outside Caraz and I'm pretty sure we chose the most gorgeous spot in the entire valley. When I woke up in the morning to run I almost tripped and fell on my face because my eyes were everywhere except on the path. There were about 8 bungalos set along this little grassy road lined with flowers with a breathtaking view of the Cordiellera Negra. The mountains went straight up behind our bungalo and I have some nice battle wounds from the cactus and spiny plants that didn't seem to want me to invade their territory. haha Both mornings I went out early to run and explore and just smell the FRESH air! I have to say running at altitude is a bit more difficult than in Lima where we are right at sealevel. Anyway, the road to Caraz went right by the fields and I got to say hi to the brightly clad girls on their way to work. Everyone from these little villages seems to be especially friendly and helpful... :) Our bungalo had two bedrooms each with a balcony as well as a central room with a fireplace, kitchen and couches. Oh, and the bathroom had a stone floor and HUGE shower with pleanty of hot water... yayyyyy!
So the second day was our exploration day and we went into the Caraz, Yungay, and the lagoon Llanganuco. Yungay is actually a cemetary now because the former city was demolished by a earthquake/ landslide in 1970. A local girl named Nancy gave us a tour of the area and recounted the tragic story. The only remains are the cementary (it was the highest point of the city), a mutilated bus, and four palm trees. But it is still a beautiful land and has been reconstructed with flowers, gardens, and monuments marking the homes and important landmarks. We left Yungay intending to go straight to the lagoon but somehow went in the wrong direction and ended up exactly where we started an hour later. So we picked up Nancy and she acted as our personal guide for the rest of the day. It is only about 40 miles to the lagoon but it took a good 2 hours because the road is a little less than smooth. To be exact it is a dirt road full of potholes so narrow that it is impossible to pass two cars. Several times we were forced to back up a good 100 m until we found a spot wide enough to let the other car by. Somehow we even saw a few full sized tour buses and HUGE trucks on the road too. So, we wound our way up up up past little houses and fields so slanted that it seemed impossible to actually grow a crop. At the lagoon we took a rowboat out to admire the beautiful view of Huascaran, walked along a little path to the other side of the lake. And of course took TONS of pictures. :) I bought a hat from a native woman and we were all hungry so we ate some delicious cheese and bread and choclo (a special type of peruvian corn). It was fairly chilly and the water was definitely not in the warm category so I didn't get to swim but I did put my feet in and take a few pictures. Back in Caraz we ate some delicious food typical to the region which includes some of the best homemade icecream ever! Caraz is known as the city of sweets and it has an extremely varied list of flavors including chirimoilla, avacado, and cerveza! (I'm assuming everyone is familiar with this word haha)
So I'm going to be VERY brief in my description of the return trip because I'm a bit tired of writing. Basically we had an exciting adventure with a flat tire and got into Lima around midnight. Exhausted but happy. :)