As some of you may have remembered, we got married two years ago from the 26th of June. As a treat to ourselves, we decided we’d take a little vacation out to the beach. You see, we may live over two miles above sea level in the middle of the Andes, but we’re still less than four hours away from the ocean. [See title of this post.] We decided on Huarmey, which is one of the three main coastal cities in Ancash, though calling it a city is probably a stretch. I guess it’s one of three places people live on the coast in Ancash. We took a bus over the Cordillera Negra – not highly recommended, we both ended up puking, and landed in Casma, one of the other two places people live on the coast in Ancash. An hour colectivo ride later, we arrived in Huarmey, hopped in a moto taxi, and got to our hostel. The room smelled kind of funny, there were English classes being taught directly outside our room, the electric shower shocked us both several times, and I don’t think I’ve ever played on a more frustrating pool table (no room to shoot, uneven surface, and pockets that are about half the size of normal ones), but the owners were incredibly nice, and we had a great time nonetheless. We’re Peace Corps volunteers; we don’t (or shouldn’t) need anything too fancy anyway, and we were only paying around 15 dollars a night.
The first day we just strolled around Huarmey, went to the market, grabbed some dinner, avoided a parade; the usual things we do day to day. The second day we got up, made some breakfast, and headed over to the sand dunes forty miles north of the hostel where we did some sand-boarding. It turns out not to be as easy as it looks. It’s not much like sledding, longboarding, or any other what-I-would-have-thought-of-as-comparable activities, and after doing a few too many front-head-springs down the dunes, we decided to grab lunch and head back to Huarmey. It just so happens that we were there on a holiday – or, rather, we planned it that way so we wouldn’t have to use a vacation day – and when we walked over to the beach we got to see a procession with an imagen and live band marching across the sand. So we quickly avoided all of that, found a cozy spot, and attempted to doze while trying to avoid soccer balls that were flying past us and ignore the several bands that had gotten onto fishing boats and were simultaneously playing patriotic songs and shooting off fireworks. It was like a little taste of ‘Merica, and it took about 20 minutes for us to decide we’d rather pack it up and head back to the hostel to relax. The ocean was quite beautiful though. The next morning we returned to Casma, found a different company with which we could travel back to Huaraz, and made our way back home. This time, the driver decided to slow down before taking the curves, and we didn’t fear the vehicle was going to tip over at any moment. It’s the little things that make life not worth puking over. We did have a great time though, and I’ll count myself lucky: two years of marriage and she still wants me around. ¡Wepa!
So we got back Sunday, and after a few days in which we had for some reason scheduled several meetings, we left town again Wednesday morning to begin our four day trek across the Quedabra Santa Cruz. In addition to the two other volunteers that came along, there were two Canadians and two French guys. We hiked up and through the mountains, at one point through wind and now up to a pass at 4,750 meters (a little under three miles high) and back down the other side. We, thank goodness, had decided on using a guided service which included among other things donkeys to carry supplies and a cook to prepare the meals for us, and it was well worth the money. We were still carrying a 40L and 45L backpack the whole time, but we didn’t have to carry tents, food, or extra blankets for the (very) cold nights. I also added four more lakes to my count, so I’m now at seven glacially fed lakes in which I’ve swam. The trek was absolutely gorgeous, but I think I’ve discovered I’m more of a day hike kind of guy... or maybe a lower altitude trekking kind of guy. I enjoy camping, but when there’s wind and snow, it’s just not as enjoyable sleeping outside. I could talk a lot about the stuff we got to see, but I think pictures will tell the story a lot better, even if they still don’t do it justice. I’ve trimmed the over 160 photos we took down to just 80 plus a few from digging micro-rellenos and our trip to Huarmey.