Two weeks ago two of my favorite people in the world and I embarked on a journey into the interior of Peru - to the Ancash region. We planned to go to the mountain city of Huaraz, as a jumping off point for a 50KM trek we wanted to do through the Cordillera Blanca. The trek is called the Santa Cruz Trek.
This post is to tell you: +how awesome it was, +how much it costs, and +how you can do it. But its gonna be all mixed up through the post.
This was my first venture outside of Lima. I moved here January 15, 2013. My Spanish is more or less intermediate. But it was more than enough to help us get around, ask all sorts of questions and get some good local knowledge on the Santa Cruz Trek.
We left Monday May 6th from Lima on an 8 hour bus ride to Huaraz. The bus company we used was called Oltursa. The service was excellent, it was extremely comfortable, and it was really cheap. On that bus ride we rode out of Lima (that took about 2 and half hours) through the desert, up the coast, through the Cordillera Negra into Huaraz. We paid 75 nuevo soles (S/.) for round trip tickets. That is something like 30 US$.
[ http://www.oltursa.pe/ ] The site is easy to use, the the station is easy to find, at the corner of Republica de Panama and Araburu in San Isidro. You could get away with passport copies, or probably even just memorized passport numbers. The stations have metal detectors and bag check (remember to get your checked luggage ticket so you can reclaim it). The bus line is super secure. Drivers switch every four hours.
We stayed at a SUPER awesome hostel, top recommended place in Huaraz, called La Casa de Zarela [www.lacasadezarela.com.] We could’ve found a cheaper place, but this one was very comfortable. We got shared a dorm style rooms for 14 US$ per night. It ended up being virtually a private room. No bunks. Everyone had a comfy twin size bed and there was a bathroom (with 24/7 hot water). Max of 4 per room. So we had it to ourselves. They have free wifi, free kitchen use, delicious in-house breakfast options, and will hold any bags or important belongings securely while you are in the mountains. The host, Zarela also speaks English, so you can get tons of free information about trekking or other stuff to do in/around Huaraz….
Boston Magazine knows where it’s heart is. Their stunning May cover has everyone chattering.
“We figured we’d need about 100 or so shoes, and we had very little time to get them. We were also going to have to interview every person who submitted a pair of shoes so we could tell his or her story. We immediately sent out tweets and Facebook posts asking runners to submit their shoes. At the same time, people from every department here at Boston magazine started reaching out to friends and family members asking for shoes. Every pair became precious. Every new email from someone on staff announcing that a cousin or an old school buddy had promised to drive their shoes to the office by the next morning was met with unrestrained enthusiasm.” —John Wolfson
(Fuente: inivyandintwine, vía ariadella)
The shift to autumn in Lima has been pretty sweet. The days are still mostly clear-skied-80+degree days. And now the nights are a smooth cool 65ish. I still don’t do Celsius, so Peruvians/Europeans will have to convert, ha!
Narciso de la Colina is the name of my street in the Surquillo district of Peru, surquillo viejo to be specific. It is a street with a lot of character, even if it is not always outwardly pretty - though I think the name translates to ‘flower (daffodil/rose) in the hillside’. I am really learning to love the rugged, charismatic essence of La Colina. Alright, maybe that sounds dumb. But maybe I’m a sap, or maybe its warranted. I’ll let you be the judge of that.
My street is situated in an old evenly spaced grid section of Surquillo, I believe, Lima’s second most populous district, surrounded by middle-class>upper-class communities like Miraflores, San Isidro, San Borja and Surco. Surquillo’s population density is second only to the Breña district, and therefore the second most populous (out of 43 districts), with a density of just under 25,000 people per square kilometer. It is decidedly lower-middle class. And it is every bit as vibrant as you’d imagine those characteristics would make it.
2.5 blocks east is Republica de Panama, a pretty major road full of car parts/mechanics places. 5 blocks north is Angamos Este, an even hustly-bustlier avenue, with pretty much the same stuff, though a bunch more restaurants, bodegas and constructions supply stores. 2 blocks south is Miraflores, and everything gets greener (less concrete jungly) and nicer and quieter. Maybe 9 blocks or so West is Paseo de la Republica (la via expressa), which is also a divider of Surquillo and Miraflores. I usually walk from our apartment to either Angamos or across Paseo de la Republica into Miraflores, which is really nice, that is where the beach is and everything.
My immediate area is made up of continuous blocks of 2-4 story apartment buildings that are continuous, no alleys or anything. Doors are right on the street, from the sidewalk. There are little shops on almost every block that sell the basics, fruit stands, sandwich stands, little restaurants, chifa’s (chinese restaurants) and lots of other stuff. The walk to Panama is pretty normal, just a few blocks of fairly residential stuff. But I especially love the walk to Miraflores because as I walk toward the via expressa, things just get more and more interesting. There are more restaurants, more bodegas, pet stores, an ice cream place, hair salons (like 5 or so) and other random places. Then the final block of Colina is blocked off to cars, its kind of cobble-stonish, and it is wide and open. There are organic food fairs here every weekend. This is where one of Surquillo’s major markets is, for which the district is well known. You can find any type of produce or food ingredient here. There are also clothing stores, stores that sell books, flowers, DVDs, everything. There are also more sit down restaurants there.
There are always lots of people on the street - walking, playing soccer, hanging out on almost every corner. Its crazy. It is super common for people to have loud latin music playing in restaurants, from speakers in homes, or even more commonly from car stereos parked on the street corners. People hang and have a beer on the street, talking, hanging out and listening to music. These are the sounds and faces and places I walk by everyday, multiple times per day, at all hours of the day/night.
I also have my Aunt Melita a block away through a small park. She has been great to me, helping me go around and deal with immigrations/nationalization people, in the quest for a peruvian DNI & passport. These are the things that make this neighborhood unique, and pretty awesome. Oh yea, and most people are friendly. I’ve made several friends on the street over the last few months. Just be careful, because as we all saw, some wanna rob ya!
That is all.
Life seems to be in constant motion in Lima. There is almost always something going on, something to do, work or to-do lists. Crazy how fast life busies up, but here it does seem to be in all the best ways.
It is a really interesting feeling as my mindset converts from that of other international trips - where it was a short term trip - to this, living abroad. Actually *living* abroad is such a different mindset. Everything feels different. The possibilities definitely seem endless. And even as my realities here change from an originally planned 6-month stay, to a now, basically official 1-year+ stay in Peru, things feel different.
- I’ve now been teaching for almost three weeks. I have 4 classes that meet from anywhere between 1hr-2hrs, 1-3 times per week. Each class is in an entirely different part of Lima, with very different people at various levels of speaking/understanding English. I travel to the offices of my students and teach them there, either early in the morning before work, or in the afternoons/evenings after work. It is not super easy, and maybe I take it more seriously than I should. But I do care about learning and teaching well and making sure my students are really given the opportunity to progress. Its actually really cool to already see minor/moderate improvement in some students. Ironically, by far my best student, is also my most basic student. My advanced students blow off class, don’t do their homework, and show up late, up to 30 mins, on several occasions. My more basic student, Germain, always is ready to start on time, has done an excellent job with his homework, and is super dedicated. That is really cool. I’m so excited to see progress, this guy really deserves it.
The things you learn everyday in Peru. Just when you start to get a little cocky, you get mugged.
The inter-barrio diversity is insane here. By that I mean the drastic differences between neighborhoods right here in Lima, no more than a few kilometers apart. Super wealthy international Miraflores, and formerly satirically nicknamed ‘little chicago’ (for all the crime) Surquillo, practically glued together. I just got robbed, in my own neighborhood, kind of. But don’t worry, it wasn’t that bad. It was kind of really frustrating, strangely somewhat humorous, yet kind of the crazy powerful movie scene type stuff (that is probably just in the reflective overcreative part of my brain though).