Chiclayo, Trujillo, and Huaraz
7/20/07 - 7/27/07 15 °C
We´ve just returned to Lima from our little trip up North-- our last week of traveling on our own.
We took a loooong bus ride to Chiclayo last Friday. To be more specific, we were stuck staring out the windows at the foggy Panamerican Highway for thirteen hours. The bus arrived in Chiclayo two hours late, and we only got one bathroom break for the entire trip. They did let us stop for lunch at a café that served baked goat meat and chicken soup complete with a chicken foot in it. (I still ate the soup but not the foot--I was hungry but not that hungry.) When we finally got to Chiclayo it was late and we were exhausted-- we were ready to check in to a hotel and go straight to sleep. And that´s just what we did, only we had to sleep in our clothes and skip brushing our teeth because our backpacks were still at the bus terminal in Lima-- the company forgot to load them onto the bus. Oops.
The next morning, in the light of day (and after the bus company had delivered our packs to the hotel from the overnight bus from Lima), Chiclayo was actually a pretty nice place. Clean and sunny (unlike Lima), and with a busy, bustling atmosphere that we immediately liked. There wasn´t a ton to do in Chiclayo, but we kept ourselves busy for a few days with the archaeological museum in nearby Lambayeque and the market in town.
Then it was off to Trujillo, just three hours south on the Panamerican. Trujillo is one of Peru´s biggest cities, and it didn´t have as much character as Chiclayo. On Monday morning (not too early, of course)we headed out on a local bus to the ruins of Chan Chan, one of the biggest pre-Columbian cities in the Americas. The city was massive, stretching for miles on both sides of the highway. The Chimu people built the city out of adobe bricks, and over the years the elements have worn down the bricks giving the place the appearance of a giant sand castle half-destroyed by a big wave.
After checking out the ruins and the little museum, we headed to the nearby beach town of Huanchaco to appreciate the sunny, if chilly, day and have some seafood for lunch. Then we headed back to Trujillo in time to catch our overnight bus to Huaraz.
Huaraz is a city up in the central Andes that´s famous as a center for mountain sports. Sergio and I aren´t really mountain sports people, but we thought we´d check out the mountain scenery for a few days anyway. After trying to acclimatize a little in the city, on Wednesday we headed up into the mountains for a night at a lodge in the middle of nowhere.
Thinking we´d be clever and save a few soles, instead of taking a taxi to the lodge we took a local bus up the mountain and walked the rest. Trying to follow the lodge´s directions turned out to be more complicated than we thought, and after walking up the mountain for what felt like a looooong time, we found someone who spoke Spanish (Quechua is the main language up there) and actually knew where the lodge was. "Oh that´s very far from here. You should have come up there other way. It´s very complicated to get there from here." Just what we wanted to hear after an hour of walking at 4,000 meters. Anyway, the nice woman, dressed in colorful native clothing and with a little girl in tow, took us back down the mountain and pointed to the next hill over, telling us to go straight down to the little creek, jump over the creek, and then climb the mountain to where there was a group of houses. "When you get up there, ask for Alex´s hotel."
Getting down to the valley and jumping over the creek was easy enough. We looked up at the mountain from there. The woman, waiting to make sure we got there okay, was standing at the ledge where she´d left us, gesturing at us to climb up to the houses. We´d done climbs that steep in that elevation before, in Bolivia, and we knew it would be really hard but that we´d make it if we took our time. We scrambled up through the fields, finding footholds in the dirt, stopping every few minutes to catch our breath. We finished the little water we had. When we finally made it to the top, we just collapsed onto our packs, exhausted, and didn´t move for at least fifteen minutes.
The woman was right, though, and from there it wasn´t far to the lodge and we finally made it, tossing our packs onto the floor and collapsing onto the chairs outside the lobby.
And after all that I actually managed to convince Sergio to go hiking with me again the next day.
Now we´re back in Lima for a week of much-needed relaxing before our families get here.