When we arrived in Huaraz we basically piggy backed a ride in a taxi, with a couple who had made a reservation before turning up at 7am, unlike us. We checked in to our room in Raju which had no window to the outside world meaning we managed to sleep until 11! Waking up delirious and disorientated we went on a hunt to soothe our bellies, we shared some street food, then wondered around town looking for a wall plug for what felt like the millionth time. Turns out electronics don’t last out here. Missions fulfilled we went to head home only to realise we didn’t have a clue of our hostels name and had walked beyond our sense of direction. Now feeling like absolute prats and wondering how we always manage to end up in these situations, by absolute chance we stumbled cross our hostel that was not in fact named Abdul as daisy thought or frow as I had thought. That evening we befriended an Irish lad staying in our hostel and grabbed some cheep dinner and beers together whilst discussing unsolved scuba diving accidents, shark attacks and other dark interesting story’s. I believe our interest in these subjects might have scared him of ,as once we got back to the hostel he agreed to a cup of tea and just disappeared with his tea going cold.
The next morning at 5 am we set off on our tour to Laguna 69. The buss journey was long and we drifted between conversation and sleep. We set off at an optimistic pace the moment the doors opened gawping at the already fantastic views. With dominating cliffs and mountains looming in every direction.
After trecking for a few hours where you would scramble up vertical hills and at the top be greeted with amazing flat fields full of cows and scattered Laguna’s. Only to have to scramble up again. Where I was unsure if It was the views of the altitude that were taking my breath away.
It was definitely the altitude as the last 1km dragged, we stoped regularly to catch our breath only to loose it again instantly. The view that greeted us at the top was worth every achey step!
Huge icy mountains surrounded a lagoon so amazingly blue it didn’t look real, the sort of thing you see a photo off and assume is edited.
It is here that we all chose an individual rock and drifted off feeling peaceful and accomplished.
The walk back was an absolute breeze despite the headaches. We chewed some coca leaves supposedly good for altitude and headed back to the city arriving at 8pm. We ate a rushed but beautiful Indian at Chilli Heaven, the portions were huge which was definitely necessary after a full day of hiking surviving only on snacks.
Next stop Lima.
Our flight back to the mainland was a turbulent death trap most of which was caused by our coffee shakes. The flight operated like a bus where once at Guayaquil we disembarked with only half the passengers as the others stayed aboard for the next stop Quito. We got straight on a night bus to Tumbes Peru and against all advice crossed South America’s most dangerous boarder at night. We hopped off the bus at immigration where there was a power cut and we stood in the dark the only light the bored staffs phones illuminating their faces as they scrolled social media, until the systems rebooted. Finally we were cleared and got back on our bus and drove through a refugee camp with Venezuelans sleeping rough and in tents. The boarders all over South America have seemed overwhelmed with refugees. We swapped busses in Tumbes and boarded the only bus leaving at this time of night. A bus run by some very obviously coked up men. At least 5 of them were wedged in the cockpit chain smoking and aggressively chewing on god knows what! So 2am tired and pissed off we arrive in Mancora with nowhere to stay.
Mancora is the Peruvian equivalent to Palomino (Colombia) but minus the power cuts. It has a laid back hippy vibe that bubbles over in to a party town at night. The beaches are long stretches with only a scattering of bodies.
There are plenty of food options and we have tried the £2 set menus all over town. Whole bbq fish, Chinese inspired Peruvian classics and ice cream coffees to die for.
We’ve spent our days lazing on the beach soaking up the sun or covering ourselves in mud at the mud baths trying to calm the sunburn. This being the only time it is acceptable to roll in the mud sober.
We have leisurely nibbled our way around town enjoying the slow paced lifestyle after our jam packed Ecuadorean escapades. In the evening we have enjoyed a few beers or pisco sours watching the town come to life, but quickly sneak off to bed before our minds become hazy. Being the good girls our friends back home didn’t think existed.
Throughout our stay I have been discussing ideas with a local tattooist and tonight before our night bus my ideas shall come alive.
An early start at 6am and we set off for Cotopaxi the second largest active volcano in the world.
And then on to Quilotoa an amazing volcano with a lake in its centre.
There is not much I can say about either of these that the photos don’t say themselves.
Cotopaxi is huge and intimidating whilst stood at the base, but the higher we scaled the more energised and giddy we became. Dressed like creepy Arabs layered up with sarongs and headbands we must have looked a real sight!At 15953feet we shared a coca tea wishing we had the time and equipment to continue to the top! Because we certainly weren’t lacking in enthusiasm.
Quilotoa is one of the best views I have ever seen so calm was the water and silent were the hills, it’s crazy that this place wasn’t roaming with tourists but we were grateful for the lack of an audience after we boldly left the group behind and descended down in to the volcano, only to run out of time and have to scramble back up panting and seriously debating an air ambulance.
The bus drive back we jumped out at a roundabout and switched busses to one going onward to Baños. Following the always room for one more rule I sat on the floor by the drivers feet and talked taxes with the driver.
So although the bus was still an hour late it almost felt early in comparison to the usual three hour late busses. We checked straight in to Casa De Nelly the prettiest hostel, where the owner was a cornucopia of information for our route to Ecuador, and the place instantly felt like home.
After a nice dinner in town, we set off on the walk uphill back to the hostel, only to have a pizza delivery guy who was conveniently driving there anyway offer us a lift. What luck! As I was drifting off that night I heard a kufufflae and muttering from Daisy’s direction. I looked over to see a very startled Daisy batting off a cricket that had landed on her face. The next morning, we left to get a bus to the local statues. But in luck again we ended up getting a lift on the back of a hostel workers bike whilst he set up some horses to meet us at the entrance. Where we galloped around the park with a tour guide explaining the history to us. All for the same price as the entry fee!
So another free ride to a local vegetarian restaurant Tomate and we enjoyed an amazing lunch, where we overfilled ourselves with unidentifiable great tasting veggies.
So now two very achey completely stuffed gringos walked back to the hostel where apparently our luck had ran out and we walked the whole way back arriving out of breath and sweaty. That evening we arranged a yoga class down the road where again we conveniently got a free ride. It was the kind of yoga my mums been trying to get me to go for years, all breathing and meditation. We had to avoid eye contact the whole time as a wave of the giggles threatened. This was especially difficult in the eye yoga! During one of the breathing exercises she asked if we had felt anything, I’m pretty sure a blocked nose was not the answer she was looking for (but the one I gave nonetheless). We left the yoga class confused at what had just happened and completely starved. We dined at Homosapians, another veggie place that served up some very quick tasty food.
Trying to get a taxi home in the downpour was a very serious task as we hovered in shop doorways trying desperately to flag down any vehicle in sight. The only one that stopped was an already full taxi. Despite this we loaded in with the complacent family, making 8 of us in there. We did manage to negotiate a discount based on the fact we didn’t even have one seat between us. We got back to the hostel soaked through and in a fit of giggles. And who do we see sat on the sofa… only our Aussie mate, I am now starting to believe he is a stalker. So a quick catch up and we all clamber in to bed trying to get some sleep but finding ourselves far too funny to stop firing comments across the room.
So the three hour bus journey was anything but and we arrived at Riosucio five hours later after a wheel change and then a chaotic change of bus altogether where two buses going in opposite directions swapped passengers and did a dodgy turn on a tight mountain road. So now on a considerably smaller bus, extremely squashed with people stand up spooning down the aisle, there were people hanging out the door with arms gripped through the windows. Buses here are so unpredictable, there are no real stops and people just hop on and off whenever they please with a wave of the hand or a shout to the driver. And there is ALWAYS room for one more.
Once in Riosucio we were bundled on the side of the road with locals who had all bought tents for the night as the local carnival had the town’s accommodation overwhelmed. In the dark and hungry, we were told all buses had stopped! We began seriously considering our street-sleeping strategy when we managed to flag down a bus going pass to the next city. So now with a glimmer of hope we board our posh empty minibus with reclining leather seats and plug sockets, feeling like we had finally made it! I asked the driver if he had eaten, which was me subtly hinting that I was starving. He pulled over and we ate some strange but enjoyable corn pizza-style fast food. Even with the stop we somehow managed to get to Peireira early. Now at a busy terminal and on a roll we took advantage of the busses and jumped straight on one to Cali. We arrived at 2am, disgruntled from a three hour journey that turned in to 12 hours of unplanned travelling. I found a card for a hostel in my bag that I must have picked up somewhere along the way. So with blind faith we headed to El Viajero, our new home! And definitely a party hostel as no one was in the dorm despite evidence of gringos scattered across the room. Flip flops and bags everywhere. We flopped on to bed and remained their until 8am when we knew breakfast would be being served.