So here I was after an 8+ hour night bus ride from Trujillo, ready to have a not-so-usual weekend in Huaraz. To be honest, I shouldn’t take this break now, since I was going to play piano for an audience the very next Friday, and I needed to practice. Besides, I needed to focus on the last weeks of my art classes before moving to the Amazon.

 

But I couldn’t resist! When my friend Alfredo told me he was going to Huaraz for the weekend to a friend’s party, I said “I’m in! Besides, what an opportunity to explore Huaraz with a former professional guide!

 

I want to see Lake 69!

 

“Let’s do Lake 69!” –I said enthusiastically to Alfredo. He tried to convinced me no to since I would need some time to adapt to the altitude before the hike. There would be no time for that since we were just going to stay a couple of days. “I’m fine!”- I confidently replied, “I’ve been working out lately, and I am in good shape. Besides, I have done the Choquequirao to Machu Picchu Trek, so I am used to the mountains”. Where do I get this kind of delusional self-confidence?

 

Image of Lake 69 in Huaraz, Peru.

#Nofilter Lake 69 is even prettier than any photo-capture. Well worth the hike!

 

In Huaraz, my last Couchsurfing guest Elena was volunteering at a hostel, and kindly reserved a bed for me. We arrived at 5 am, left the backpacks and spent the rest of the day hiking to 4700m.a.s.l. and back. Yes, I saw Lake 69, and it was better than the picture, but the journey was a little of an adventure…

After a strenuous hike, a natural spa to relax

 

The next morning, after exchanging life-updates with Elena, I left to a natural spa located in the district of Chancos. These are thermal baths with medicinal properties. To me, it was the perfect recharge morning after the hike of the day before.

 

Image of the landscape of Chancos, Huaraz, Peru.

Chancos is a town 30 minutes from Huaraz. The building to the right is the entrance to the thermal waters. For less than a dollar, you can enjoy a natural spa!

Party in Huaraz!

 

Then we arrived at the Yunza party. A Yunza is a traditional Andean party where people dance around a tree chopping it with an ax until it falls. The one that fell it will be responsible for organizing the party the next year.

 

Image of a band playing Andean music.

These musicians played Andean rhythms all day long!

 

It was a new experience for me, even though I grew up in this country, to find people that don’t speak Spanish but their native Quechua language. There were lots of food and beer at the party, a big band playing Andean music, and lots of street dogs coming in and out of the house like if they were special guests.

Image of a man carrying a big cross in Huaraz, Peru

Religion is strong in the Peruvian Andes, and every party has at least one Christian symbol.

 

Unfortunately, we had to leave the party early, since our bus to Trujillo was leaving at 9 pm. I guess the guy that tried so hard to make Elena marry him and take care of his farm was disappointed…

Image of my friends and I surrounded by Huaraz people.

Elena (to the right), Alfredo and I in the middle of the celebrations.

 

Back in Huaraz, I decide not to travel since I was getting a fever. Maybe I was just tired, or maybe I just didn’t want to leave…

 

WAR-Tuesday

 

The last day of February, a BIG carnival war happens all throughout the city of Huaraz. I have never seen something like that. All the business closes, and everybody gets wild. Hoards of people run on the streets with buckets of water, paint, talcum, shoe polish and dirty each other. It’s pure madness, and it’s a LOT OF FUN! Bands were playing in the city center along with (literally) dirty people dancing with each other. To me, it’s like a massive catharsis of the town.

Image of my friends and I covered in paint after being at the carnival in Huaraz.

Our little gang after the “War” Photo credit: Elena Sabella – The Backpackers way

 

Image of girls holding buckets and covered in paint.

Water balloon and buckets were the weapons in this “war.” Can you see the gang passing in the background?

Back to the hostel, and after a long, warm and desinfecting shower, I was ready for more. We’ve heard of a party some blocks from our place, so we headed towards it. However, this time I couldn’t enjoy it that much since my bus to Trujillo was leaving at 9 O’clock.  So I left the party early and went back to the hostel. To my surprise -and desperation- the French lady volunteering there wasn’t at work and no one could give me my luggage. Time passed fastly in that little hostel living-room, and when it became 8:30 pm I decided to leave to the bus agency to postpone my trip. The only problem was, I had only a few Peruvian soles left… How was I going to pay for an extra night at the hostel?

When I returned, the French lady was there very chill. I complained that because of her I had to postpone my ticket and that I didn’t have more money left. Instead of an apology, she was very rude to me. I was shocked and didn’t know what to do…

Some time later, a Huaraz-guy came and asked me why I was so upset. “I couldn’t travel because the receptionist wasn’t here to give me my luggage, and now I have no money left”- I muttered. “It’s a shame!” – He said and added: “Don’t care about her, I will make sure you won’t pay for this night. Huaraz has a big heart”.

Next morning, after eating breakfast and getting a warm hug from Elena, I took my bus back home with the memories of a very special weekend in on of the most beautiful places in Peru.