Posted by: stacylynn12 | January 16, 2012

At Home in Huaraz

We’ve landed…. ever so softly thanks to the graciousness of good people… in Huaraz, Peru. In our cozy room at the Churup Lodge we collectively exhale. This room I might add, has firm mattresses, soft pillows, a hot shower and I have not seen a bug yet… luxury found! The top floor lounge / restaurant offers views of the surrounding Cordillera Blanca and a warm fire in the fireplace every night. The breakfast is superb – fresh squeezed mango and pineapple juice, homemade crunchy bread with real butter and jam, the most delicious eggs I’ve had, maybe ever and fresh fruit with yogurt, honey and granola. Oh and the coffee’s not bad either. Nothing to take a picture of but not bad.

We tried to lay low and acclimatize for a few days but with two active kiddos it’s not easy. At 10,000 feet the air is a little thin and we find ourselves breathing hard walking up the 4 flights of stairs to the lounge. Bodhi and Josh seem wholly unaffected however and race around while wondering what’s wrong with us.

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These mountains are big!

Life here in Huaraz is exactly what we were hoping for. We’ve met some amazing people, who have welcomed us into their community and when we walk around town and see people we “know” we feel like we belong here.

We lounge at Café Andino drinking our cappuccinos and mochas or later in the day a cerveza from the Sierra Andina brewing company… one of the businesses owned by our new friends Jenn and Ted. We happily enjoy their tasty passion. It does not go unnoticed that at Café Andino, there are a lot of people who look like us. It is seemingly a small haven for gringo travelers and expats alike in search of a few of the comforts of home.

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Cozy Café Andino

Over dinner one night we talk with Jenn and Ted about their observations of interactions between the Peruvian locals and the expats who call Huaraz home. It seems the world over people are drawn to others who are like themselves. When they host a party they say, they either invite their Peruvian friends or their expat friends but never both. It wouldn’t go so well. I find this interesting. That even as we desire to immerse ourselves in different cultures – either as a traveler passing through or as someone who has chosen a permanent life in a “foreign” land – that we still have an intense desire to be with the people, ideas, tastes, sounds and languages that connect us with our culture.

At the same time however, I enjoy immensely that which is different. I walk through the Central Market here in Huaraz and try not to stare rudely at the beautiful Quechua women in their vibrant traditional costumes. The Quechua Indians are an indigenous ethnic group here in Peru and in other neighboring South American countries. I find it refreshing that in a bustling city there would be people who still proudly embrace tradition and their loyalty to their culture provides a stark visual contrast to the modern aspects of this place.

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Sit, knit, talk and sell bread.

Their Polleras are colorful skirts made from handwoven wool cloth and are striking in their bright green, orange, pink or blue colors. I also marvel at the K’eperinas which are large hand-woven cloths worn over one’s back and knotted in front. The K’eperina can be used as a poncho, backpack or baby carrier. Children and possessions are securely kept inside. I marvel at them because I remember fondly buying a K’eperina during a trip to Guatemala in anticipation of the birth of our first child. I had a woman show me how to tie it on using a bundle of cloth to simulate a babe. No problem. Well, that is until later when I was practicing again with a bundle of random stuff and it all tumbled out onto the floor. I thought then that perhaps I should refrain from putting my newborn in there.

There are other sights, sounds and smells that permeate the air around the market and my senses absorb it all in a delicious feast of difference.

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Chicken for dinner?

Over the last week we have made connections in Huaraz that I sense will last long beyond our time here. It is the combination of the familiar and the unfamiliar that make it so appealing.

Tomorrow we will head to the community garden with our new friends to work, weed and enjoy time outside. It will be a comforting familiar day. Then we have planned for a 3 day trek in the Quilquihuanca valley east of town. We will be taking with us a Peruvian cook and an arriero or mule driver, as well as 3 or 4 mules to carry our stuff and our kids when they poop out. This is unfamiliar territory to be sure. In all our time outside in the mountains in dozens of US states and several countries spanning 3 continents we have never done a supported trip. What a hoot!

Upon returning from our trek, we will move into our small but cozy digs at the Lazy Dog Inn. We’ve secured a volunteer opportunity there and are very excited about it. In exchange for room and board we will be helping in the local school, working in the garden, helping to tend the horses and perhaps working on various other projects that arise. The Lazy Dog Inn is perched up in the mountains above Huaraz. The air feels crisp and clean there, the views are breathtaking, the owners Diana and Wayne are a warm and welcoming couple and there is ample space for the kids to run wild all the day long.

We’ve signed on through the end of February with the potential to stay longer if all is going well. I can already feel the magic of this place permeating my heart and mind.

It’s interesting though. Even as I sit here feeling such relief that we have found a place to call home for a short while and so happy that we don’t have to pack our gear and take another bus ride to some new hotel, I also feel the pull of travel. Simultaneously while I’m settling in, I’m wondering what else is out there. We are so close to Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador… shouldn’t we go explore these places too? Isn’t it odd to come all the way to South America and only visit one town in one country?

As it is said in Spanish… Vamos a Ver! (We’ll see!)

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Friends gather at the community organic garden / new school site to work on digging a pit for the composting toilet and do some weeding.

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The boys and I help with weeding the corn.

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A Quechua woman makes 1 sole (.37¢) off this silly “gringito” (as the locals are fond of calling the kids) who wants to pose for a picture in the Plaza de Armas (Central Plaza) with the llama.

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A peek at the mountains from the Lazy Dog Inn.

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Two women work their fields above the Lazy Dog Inn.

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Taking a walk in the hills above Lazy Dog Inn.

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Old and new fashions mingle in Huaraz.

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Randy and the boys go horseback riding on a “Dads and kids” morning out with our new friends.

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New friends (L to R) Noah, Ted and Cole.

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Josh rides his own horse!

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Don’t panic, they are not swimming in a sewer. These are the Monterrey hot springs just outside of Huaraz and they look this way because of the high iron content. It’s hard to get over the appearance I know but they were delightful!

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Fruit for sale at the market.

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Huaraz street before the afternoon rain.

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Huaraz street during the afternoon rain.

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Quechua vendor in Huaraz.

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Responses

  1. Love your posts – wish I had more time to comment on them. I totally get the need to settle down for awhile.

    “When they host a party they say, they either invite their Peruvian friends or their expat friends but never both. It wouldn’t go so well.”

    Did Jenn or Ted explain what would not work well or why? I could come up with a few ideas of why but I’m curious if they gave one.

    Hugs to all your boys!

    Richard

    p.s. major snow storm in Seattle – schools out most likely for days. Great skiing to be had though!

    • Good question! I’ll have to ask them!
      Miss you guys!

  2. Wow, do these pictures bring back a flood of good memories of Huaraz in 1976 when I spent time in Huaraz between climbing excursions, over a four week period, into the Cord Blanca.

    The vibrant colors of the women’s dresses and sweaters/shawls; the colorful market scenes; the open air hanging chickens, beef, etc; the stunning views up into the nearby mountains from the city streets and fields; and ah, the Monteray Hot Springs, which we frequently between trips into the mountains.

    Your pictures trigger all of these recollections, and many more.

    The town looks much more “cleaned up” than what was around in ’76. There had been a very serious and deadly earthquake in 1970, centered in the nearby region, which even six years later left lots of debris laying around the town, especially once one got off the main street through town.

    Thanks, Stacey, for your blog.

    Gary Fredrickson, Federal Way, WA

  3. Hi Stacie,
    Another great story and beautiful colorful pictures. The fruits & vegetables look very inviting. These people are not very tall. Everyone looks healthy & happy.
    I always enjoy receiving your posts. I just finished talking with your Mom, they are having a great time and enjoying themselves. I am happy for them.
    Stay safe – Lucette


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