|got off the bus in Huaraz and nearly died of the freezing cold that just hit me..i felt like my feet were going to fall off. so have FINALLY had to ditch the flip flops for socks and shoes - horrible!...not to mention all the emergency purchases of hat, gloves etc etc :o(
the bus journey was very funny - we all played a game of bingo which surprisingly i won out of everyone on the bus!! the guy sitting next to me had to help me a bit as they shout the numbers so fast and he didn't seem impressed when i won - i think he thought the prize should've been his (which was only a free bus ticket back to lima but definitely helped me with my budget so i wasn't giving it away in hurry!)
Huaraz is a town high up in the Andes (about 3500m above sea level)so i felt the affects of the altitude straight away - splitting hedaches and tiredness - so i wasnt really able to do much for a couple of days while i acclimatised. It is a beautiful city though with lovely views of snow-capped mountains everywhere and i soon got used to the cold (which was only really at night anyway - the days were mainly lovely and sunny!)
I met up with Robert (an english guy i'd met in lima) in the hotel and also Holland & Argentina who i spent the next few days with (they do obviously have names but their countries were so much easier to remember!)
The day after i arrived was Good Friday and it seemed like the whole of Peru had come to Huaraz for Semana Santa (Easter week). It was absolute chaos but good fun to watch all the processions and people getting so enthusiastic about it (its bigger than Christmas over here they are all so religious & devout Catholics) and the Peruvians definitely know how to party!
The 4 of us went for a big hike one day in the Huascaran National Park (which has the highest mountain in Peru - not that we climbed it but we did see it) We took a collectivo to the nearby town of Yungay and from there a driver took us up to the Park entrance. The trek was really good - a bit tough going in parts but overall am not as unfit as what i thought and not quite so worried now about the inca trail trek (especially as that is at a lower altitude than here anyway) We were headed for a glacial lake right at the top of the mountain - laguna sesenta nueve - but unfortunately never quite made it. It had been raining quite a lot but then it just got heavier and heavier - then the hail, thunder and lightning started so we decided it would be wise to turn back (a bit annoying as we were only 2km away, but thought it would be a sensible decision!) and am very pleased we did - the clouds were coming down and i thought we were going to lose the path and then we would've been lost forever! Definitely the last time i go trekking in the Andes without a guide as was a little scary at one point! We got absolutely soaked on the way down and was so difficult as all the paths had practically turned into waterfalls which we had to climb down!
Because got back so early we still had to wait 2 hours for our driver who'd agreed to pick us up, but the rain was torrential and nowhere to shelter we were starting to get a bit annoyed but luckily managed to stop a passing police car with 2 nice policemen who agreed to take us back down to the village (for a price!) As we were driving back though we drove through a little local indigenous village and came right into a huge domestic fight. It was horrible, the husband was beating up his wife (very badly) by the side of the road, looked like he was trying to kill her - a very distressing sight as have never seen anything like it before. As we were with the police they couldn't just ignore it and got out to try and break it up. They tried to restrain the guy and get him in the car with us (!) he was so drunk and violent that (fortunately for us) they couldnt even get him in the car... so we rescued the wife and child instead and took them to the police station. It wasn't nice to see though and makes you realise that life isn't probably at all as perfect as it seems for these indigenous people - am sure it happens a lot.
So we were so glad when we finally got back to our hotel in one piece and could get dry and warm & drink lots of (medicinal) red wine in front of the log fire - bliss!
One other eventful thing that happened in Huaraz - i was on Peruvian tv! We'd been in a restaurant and the chefs kept bringing out local food for everyone to try - i didn't really think much of the film crew that was in there... Then the next night, the owner of our hotel came running up to me "Amy, amy amy i've just seen you on tv - you're famous!" apparently there were lots of close up shots of me eating all this food (nice!) ...shame i didn't see it, but the hotel owner seemed pretty chuffed that he had and that he knew me! Hilarious..and very typical i was eating - ha ha!!