Huaraz, Peru (Day 4) El Mercado

Our last full day in Huaraz, we decided to visit the weekly mercado in the heart of the city.

Browsing the market

Browsing the market

We had our empleada with us, who is from Huaraz, so it was great to have her guidance as we made our way through the crowded streets of vendors.  On the way there we saw a couple trying to guide their pig along the street to the market.  Never seen that before!

Bacon's up!

Bacon’s up!

 Since we were heading back to Lima the next day to a consequently empty fridge, we decided to do a little grocery shopping while we were at the mercado.

Selling fruits and veggies

Selling fruits and veggies

 The prices in Lima’s mercados are always good, but in Huaraz the prices were unbelievable!  We found things like carrots, onions, sweet potatoes and other veggies for the equivalent of $0.30 for 2lbs!

Checking out the cherries

Checking out the cherries

 We ended up getting all of our produce for the week for under 20 soles (roughly $7).  Pretty incredible, especially after living in California where the prices for produce are so high.

 Some of the mamitas just loved Cliff and a couple of them gave Olivia and Cliff a gift of an apple.  This one mamita said she just couldn’t stand Cliff’s cute cheeks and just had to kiss them.

Too cute to resist

Too cute to resist

Kisses

Kisses

They get so much attention with their blonde hair, especially when we’re in the mountains where not many blonde heads are seen.  I used to be worried about the attention they get, but the Peruvians we have met have all been very sweet and seem pretty family oriented.  The women especially, but even the men, are always very kind to us when we are out and about with the little ones.

Smiles for apples and peaches

Smiles for apples and peaches

We had a really fun time perusing the mercado in Huaraz.  We’ve been to a lot of them around Peru, but this one was probably the biggest and most interesting. I missed the dog sitting on the bottom shelf of this stand selling a dish made with chicken and some sauces.  I thought it was so funny, the dog waiting on the bottom shelf for whatever they drop.  Things are a lot different here!

Selling chicken

Selling chicken

 After we finished our shopping, we all 5 crammed into the back of a moto-taxi to get back to the Plaza where we’d parked our car.  (A moto taxi is a no-kidding motorcycle, with two wheels and a shell with a seat bench added in the back – I need to get a picture of one of these!)  While we were in the Plaza we got a couple Christmas photos, since it was the day before Christmas Eve.

Merry Christmas from Huaraz!

Merry Christmas from Huaraz!

And Happy New Year!

And Happy New Year!

Cliff was very excited to find a motorcycle parked next to our car when we got there.

Esperanza and Cliff

Esperanza and Cliff

 Our trip to Huaraz was one of our favorites we’ve taken.  It was definitely worth the drive!

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Huaraz, Peru (day 3) Laguna Llanganuco

Our third day in Huaraz, Olivia ran a fever during the night, so I didn’t think we would make it out to the lake like we had planned. However, she slept in late and when she woke her fever was gone, so we decided to get out despite the late start. It was going to be a pretty low-key day anyways – mostly driving.

The lakes we were headed to were high up in the mountains, Lagunas Llanganuco.

Beautiful farmed countryside

Beautiful farmed countryside

The drive up was pretty. We accidentally took the wrong mountain road up, so it was particularly challenging, but John managed it like a pro and we were there not much later than we had anticipated.

The Cordillera Blancas

The Cordillera Blancas

We were unprepared for the beauty that awaited us at the lake.

We made it to the lake!

We made it to the lake!

At the lake

At the lake

The first lake sat below a huge glacier, and was absolutely breathtaking.

Laguna Llanganuco

Laguna Llanganuco

The water was a gorgeous teal blue color. Our guide told us it’s that color because of the algae that grows at the bottom of the lake. We decided to take a little boat ride out into the water.

Ready for a boat ride!

Ready for a boat ride!

It was a fun little excursion.

Nice day for the lake

Nice day for the lake

Cliff really wanted to throw his baby doll over the side for a little swim…but we successfully saved the baby.  John got to row the boat for a bit, too, which was a fun experience for him.

Rowing our boat

Rowing our boat

We were a heavy group, with six of us in the boat!

Enjoying the water

Enjoying the water

We missed lunch at the little “restaurant” that was by the lake, but the mamitas were able to scrounge up two pieces of choclo for the kids.

Happy to have some lunch!

Happy to have some lunch!

Chowing down on choclo

Chowing down on choclo

Choclo is Peruvian corn. It’s boiled and then traditionally served with a piece or two of queso fresco. The kids love it, which is good because it’s on pretty much every menu and in every market.

After the kids finished their light lunch, we decided to take the rocky road down just a bit further and get a peek of the next lake.

Lake under the mountains

Lake under the mountains

The second lake

The second lake

 It was beautiful too!  The road was pretty bumpy in places!  We were so glad for a 4×4 vehicle on this trip.

Part of the road ahead

Part of the road ahead

Runoff from the mountain

Runoff from the glacier

Crossing one of the numerous bridges

Crossing one of the numerous bridges

After crossing a land bridge, we came upon a herd of cattle that were grazing in the bright green grass.

The land bridge across the lake

The land bridge across the lake

Cows!

Cows!

 Cliff was enchanted.  He loves cows!  We grabbed a snapshot with our Texas A&M flag before loading back up into the car.

Gig 'em Ags!

Gig ’em Ags!

 It was such a fun excursion!

On the way back down the mountain, we picked up some hikers who were growing weary under the hot sun.  It was a crowded but nice trip down the mountain and we enjoyed visiting with the Austrian hikers and admiring the scenery.

The snowy Cordilleras

The snowy Cordilleras

Waterfall beside the road

Waterfall beside the road

Farmland beneath the Cordilleras

Farmland beneath the Cordilleras

 Once we got down the mountain road, we had a late lunch, or early dinner, in Yungay.  The kids had fun chasing a cat around the restaurant during before and after the meal.

The last stop on the list for the day was the cemetery in Yungay, where 25,000 people were killed in The Ancash Earthquake of 1970.

Walking to the memorial

Walking to the memorial

 It was the deadliest natural disaster in Peru – the entire town was completely wiped out in just 3 minutes.

Memorial at sunset

Memorial at sunset

 Today, there is a beautiful memorial site where the city and the Plaza de Armas once stood.

Walking through the memorial

Walking through the memorial

 You can still see a bus, sticking out of the ground – not much more than twisted metal in the dirt.  It was a sobering tour.

Old bus

Old bus

 As the sun was going down, we were amazed by the beauty of this place.

Sunset

Sunset

 Thankfully we made it back to Huaraz without incident through the very dark mountain roads.  It had been a long day.  We were all ready for some rest!

Huaraz, Peru: (day 2) Chavín de Huántar

Our second full day in Huaraz, after enjoying a simple Peruvian breakfast and coffee, we set out on a 3-hour drive to see the ancient ruins of Chavín de Huántar.  It was such a gorgeous drive!

Driving through the valley

Driving through the valley

We passed a trucha (trout) farm as we crossed on of the bridges.

Trucha farm

Trucha farm

After about 2 hours of driving, we drove through a tunnel and emerged on a very bumpy, washed out mountain road.

Waterfall along the road

Waterfall along the road

Road between the mountains

Road between the mountains

At that point the GPS said we had 23 minutes to reach the site…1 hour+ later and with very full bladders we finally arrived at our destination.  So much of the road had been washed out by rains and mudslides that it was very slow going. Thankfully the kids slept through most of it.  Cliff with his sandwich in hand.

Sleeping on the road

Sleeping on the road

After a good lunch, we walked up to the site.

Crossing the bridge to get to the site

Crossing the bridge to get to the site

The site sits at over 10,000 feet above sea level and is one of the oldest ruins in South America, being constructed as early as 1200 BC.

"Una foto, Cliff, una foto!"

“Una foto, Cliff, una foto!”

"Cheese!"

“Cheese!”

Ready to explore!

Ready to explore!

The ruins were surrounded by beautiful grassy plains with a river running nearby.

Getting a head start

Getting a head start

Starting the trail

Starting the trail

The kids had a great time watching the llamas.

Watching the llamas

Watching the llamas

Happy campers

Happy campers

They also really enjoyed running along the paths and generally exercising in any way possible (after 2 days in the car they needed it!).

Hesitant to leave the llamas

Hesitant to leave the llamas

Channel for the waterway

Channel for the waterway

First glimpse of the ruins

First glimpse of the ruins

When we got to the main ruins I couldn’t believe how big they were!  I was completely unprepared for the enormity of this place.

At the ruins

At the ruins

Olivia and Cliff meanwhile were very interested in the rocks and flowers.

Found a pretty flower!

Found a pretty flower!

 Cliff even came up with a new game and had a fun time balancing rocks on his head.

The balancing rock game

The balancing rock game

Going "night-night"

Going “night-night”

He is such a ham!  It kept him entertained for the majority of the excursion.

Happy with his rock

Happy with his rock

It was really amazing to walk through structures that were over 3000 years old!

The gateway to the temple

The gateway to the temple

Outside the temple

Outside the temple

 After we toured the outside of the ruins, we got to walk through the labyrinth and see the Chavín peoples god, a 3 TON shaft carving made out of granite.

Entrance to the labyrinth

Entrance to the labyrinth

Inside the labyrinth

Inside the labyrinth – The Lazón Stela in the background

 It was too dark to get any good pictures, but this is a small replica that we passed later in the city’s center (complete with trash pile).

Replica of the Lanzón Stela at Chavín

Replica of the Lanzón Stela at Chavín

Airway hole for the labyrinth

Airway hole for the labyrinth

For the last part of the tour, we saw the last remaining cabeza clava (meaning spike head) on site.

Cabeza clava

Cabeza clava

Happy girl

Happy girl

The structures used to be surrounded by these carved heads, all at a different level of morphism (from man to jaguar). Now most of them are found in the museum nearby. It was a really interesting tour and the kids enjoyed it maybe even more than we did.  That’s always a plus for us when we’re traveling!  Cliff really loved the llamas and had a fun time filming them with John’s GoPro.

Filming the llamas

Filming the llamas

 On the way back to the car we even saw a horse, which completely topped the experience for both of them.

Crossing the bridge

Crossing the bridge

We stopped in the museum before heading back.

At the museum

At the museum

The museum was funded by the Japanese

The museum was funded by the Japanese

 It was a quick stop but it was neat to see all the cabezas clavas on display.  The drive back was a little faster, since we knew where we were going and John knew what to expect from the roads. We saw some beautiful sights, too!

Lake on the drive home

Lake on the drive home

Lake at sunset

Lake at sunset

Overlooking the valley

Overlooking the valley – snow capped mountains

 It was a great outing!  We were really enjoying our time in the Cordillera Blancas!

Huaraz, Peru (day 1) Exploring the city

The week before Christmas, we loaded up our car and left for the mountains of Huaraz.  John drove our SUV so it was really nice to not have to worry about getting taxis, buses, motos, and tour groups.  Our empleada came along, since her family lives in Huaraz. It worked out great that she would help us out with the kids for a few days and then go on to see her family for Christmas.  The drive was long – about 7 hours including the traffic out of Lima (which always takes an hour or two).  Over half the drive was along the coast which was very deserty, but once we turned off the highway towards the mountains the drive became really beautiful.  We passed a lot of corn fields, growing the local choclo corn (huge white corn), as well as a lot of watermelon (sandia) farms growing in the valleys along the river.  Every building along the road in the valley had hundreds of watermelons stacked up for sale.  It was absolutely breathtaking to see the snowy-capped Cordillera Blancas as the sun set on our drive through the mountains.

The Cordillera Blancas at sunset

The Cordillera Blancas at sunset

We got to Huaraz just after dusk, which made it a bit difficult to find our hotel. We finally located the comfortable and quiet Morales Guesthouse. We were the only guests staying, since it was the off-season.

The first full day we had in Huaraz, we decided to take it easy and adjust to the altitude by exploring the city and nearby museum.

Walking to town

Walking to town

El gatito!

El gatito!

The city sits right at 10,000 feet above sea level, so it was quite an adjustment from our sea-level apartment in Lima.  The church near the city’s center was beautiful.

Iglesia La Soledad

Iglesia La Soledad

Inside the church

Inside the church

Small town square outside Iglesia De Soledad

Small town square outside Iglesia La Soledad

The museum was small, but still had some neat artifacts.  Unfortunately we weren’t able to take pictures there. We really enjoyed the garden outside the museum.

In the museum garden

In the museum garden

The kids had a fun time playing in the water fountain and loved throwing their empty water bottles into it and watching them float.

Playing in the fountain

Playing in the fountain

We got to explore the main Plaza de Armas and find a few alpaca gifts for family, too.  After that it was lunch time.  We found a wonderful restaurant not far from the Plaza, called Cafe Andino – they had wonderful meals and a panoramic view of the city and mountains.

View from Cafe Andino

View from Cafe Andino

For the trip back to the hotel we decided to grab a moto taxi.  We all 5 crammed in the back.  It was much quicker than walking with tired kids.  We had left our stroller back home for this trip, which was probably a good decision since most of the surfaces we walked were either rocky or cobblestone streets.  It was a good first day!  We took it easy at the hotel and got some rest in preparation for our long outing to Chavín de Huantár the next day.

View from our hotel 4th floor patio

View from our hotel 4th floor patio