Well, the internet in Peru, is to North Americans as a race is to a snail. We feel the same way about our online connection speed that a snail feels about escargot. Making postings on the blog has proven to be very difficult and we pretty much just post when the stars are aligned.
We left Huaraz and headed 90 minutes south to a little known, archeologically rich, rock climbing forest called Hatun Machay. After being in Huaraz, with it’s great beer, good food, and full list of amenities, the simplicity of the comida typica almuerzo we had in a small town on the way, was somehow a welcomed return to what we love about South America. The kids’ heads were being rubbed by smiling men, asking if they were “gringos?”.
Our turn off the highway was a small rock and dirt road marked by a cairn. The half hour drive on this road temporarily gave me a foul mouth. Because of the deep mud and ridiculous path pretending to be a road, we were forced to drive in the farmland-like field, gunning it in order not to sink in the wet, muddy grass.
At the end of the road, once again in the middle of nowhere, was the refuge we’d been seeking.
We parked our van, took in as much of the thin, 14,000 ft fresh air we could, and found Angel, from Argentina, who took us to the rock forest for some skin ripping bouldering.
We checked out some cave hieroglyphics that should requirer an entrance fee and a protective barrier, but have nothing but the quiet respect of the unassuming rock climbers.
Darin and Simon did quite well with the bouldering, while Marco and I discussed the fact that we “totally don’t get it, and thanks but no thanks”.
That night, we hung out in the lodge, making some delicious burritos, and, again, enjoying our return to the middle of nowhere.
The next morning, we woke up to snow and gratitude for being up there, but wondering how we’d get back down. Angel and his climbing buddy took us with ropes and harnesses to what they referred to as “spicy climbing”.
The kids stayed back building card castles and playing chess, while Darin and I got prepared to step out the comfort zone that apparently exists only in our minds. The climbing left us grunting and howling with adrenaline and a crazy sense of kick ass exhilaration.
The ground dried out a bit and we left Hatun Machay smiling from ear to ear. Ten feet into our drive out, we sank in mud and needed to get pushed on. We looked at each other, telepathically saying “sooo, how’s the van gonna make it out exactly?”.
We made it out with the finessed technique of gunning it without relenting. The mud and grass flew everywhere, even speckling the surf board and Thule up top. We celebrated our freedom over a tasty lunch, the tastiest bite, being the view of the Cordillera Blanca.
With a destination of Huacachina and Nazca 10 hours away, our goal was to make it to Lima’s southern beaches for the night, which would leave just 3 hours of driving the following day. As we approached Lima, the air was heavy with the numerous burn piles we seem to see everywhere along the coast. Burning garbage offers various olfactory experiences, our favorite is the kind that smells like sage.
We got to Lima in the dark (not good), drove past many more burn piles, crazy buses, pedestrian accidents, and the heavy metal musical chaos of 8 million people honking their horns.
The kids were begging for “American food” of any kind. By 7pm, we spotted a Pizza Hut, which, to the kids was like finding a pot of gold. They devoured their “American food” all while humming and discussing the fine palatal notes of the mozzarella cheese and peperoni.
An hour later, we pulled into the coastal town of Punta Hermosa, tired, a bit edgy, and ready to be done. We drove over a speed bump, saw a group of police like officials appearing to wave us through, and suddenly we had machine guns pointing our way as a strobe light emphasized that we were in the WRONG place. We slowly, with our hands up, turned around yelling No! No! No! and headed south to the town of San Bartolo. We’ll never really know what the S.U.A.T. shirt wearing, gun aiming muchachos were up to, but Simon reassured me that if Darin had been shot, he would have taken the wheel.
We spent the night overlooking a bay that would remind me of some place in Greece if I’d ever been there. The surfing looked spectacular. We promised ourselves that after we give the kids a rip rolling time in the sand dunes of Huacachina and Nazca, we’d come back to San Bartolo for a few days to catch the last of this trip’s South American waves.