Huaraz is a mountain city in Peru's Cordillera Blanca, and it is the hub of the biggest trekking scene in South America. It's a total mecca for people looking to do treks in the mountains, serious climbing, and other outdoor activities. Beautiful scenery around here, and it's quite a nice city as well.
I love croissants. I really do. I believe that they're god's gift to the world of pastry — via the French. And they're not so easy to find, either, down here in Peru. That's why when I saw a pasteleria here in Huaraz a few days ago, that was selling croissants, I eagerly bought some. And they were delicious. Yesterday, I returned to this treasure-trove supplier of wheat-filled goodness, only to discover that they were out of croissants. But I must be more memorable than I realise (what with my hairy beard and all, these days): because all that I did was walk past the croissant shop this evening, and the girls working inside called out: "¡Amigo — hoy dia, tenemos croissantes!" (lit: "Hey mate — today we have croissants!").
Went shopping around this morning, for a ticket on a night bus north to Trujillo. Got to the terminal of a company called Linea at 9:45am, and was given some hilarious news. Their 9pm bus to Trujillo was booked out for tonight: but they had 5 reserved seats that hadn't yet been paid for; and if nobody came and paid for them by 10am, they'd give them away first-come first-serve. So I took the advice of the guy at the desk, and waited for 15 minutes. By 10am, two reserved seats had been claimed, but the other three were up for grabs. I grabbed one of them, fast.
Got back to Huaraz this evening, from my 5-day Santa Cruz-Llanganuco hike, to discover that Jo's Place is full. I'd asked them to reserve me a bad for tonight, when I left on Wednesday: but they said that they couldn't make any guarantees, as they were already booked in advance for 28 de Julio (Peru Independence Day) weekend. Anyway, I begged the very-hospitable Mrs. Jo to find me somewhere — anywhere! — to crash for the night; and she let me sleep in the cantina (the breakfast kitchen / dining room). I didn't care where I slept tonight; I just cared that I slept. Which I did. Soundly.
After doing some research today — on the Internet, and face-to-face with various other travellers — I've decided that for my time here in Huaraz, I'm going to do the Santa Cruz-Llanganuco hike, and I'm going to do it alone. In order to prepare for this 5-day trek in the Cordillera Blanca (that's the mountain range that it passes through), this afternoon I hired all the gear that I'm going to need, and I bought all the food that I'm going to eat. This being Huaraz — the trekking and mountain-climbing capital of South America — getting all that stuff proved to be no problem at all.
Ever since I arrived in South America, it's been gnawing at me. Now, finally, I can't hold it in any longer: my Lonely Planet South America on a Shoestring guide really does leave a lot to be desired. As Agent Smith from The Matrix would say:
It's out-of-date (it's the 2004 edition — the 2007 edition only came out in March), it's lacking in detail (everything from the "proper" individual-country LP guides has been chopped in half), and half the time it's just plain wrong. Pull your socks up, LP: you have the reputation, but you fail to deliver!
One of the coziest and the friendliest places I've ever stayed at. Jo's Place is run (somewhat) by Jo, an English guy who lives on the premises (hey, it's his place!), who likes to work on the building and the garden, and who enjoys a trip to his neighbouring pubs. It' also run (much more) by Mrs. Jo, his Peruvian wife, who finds you a room, and who makes sure that you pay for your board. Really charming place, with a great big garden to hang out in, and with plenty of fellow hairy adventurers to meet and to talk to.
I arrived in Huaraz at 6am this morning, and I discovered once again that in this part of the world, things change very quickly. Some places move. Other places close down. Out-of-date Lonely Planet guides can't keep pace. And at the break of dawn, after spending the whole night on a bumpy bus, it's all just a bit too much to handle. Welcome to Huaraz — can I sleep now?