Monday, July 21, 2008

Huaráz (10,100 feet a.s.l.)

We left for Huaráz late Thursday night so as to not use a whole day on the 8 hr bus ride. We arrived in time for breakfast with our old friend Tato, who has also just arrived from Lima the evening before and was about to leave for work higher up in the mountains at the Antamina copper mine.

Our arrival in Huaráz

Benjamin, fresh off the bus

Our first glimpse of the Cordillera Blanca and Mt. Huascarán

Huaráz is a friendly, if drawn out and somewhat chaotic, city. Unlike Cusco or Ayacucho, it doesn't have a historic city center but has grown stretched out along the road through the Huaylas valley. The city was devastated in a massive earthquake in 1970, which damaged some 70% of the buildings and killed 20,000 people in town, as well as virtually wiping out the nearby town of Yungay in a huge landslide from Mt. Huascarán, where only about 400 people out of a population of over 10,000 survived.

Today Huaráz is a vibrant, lively city that feels very connected to the outside world. It abounds in cafés, restaurants, and nightclubs catering to Peruvian and international visitors as well as locals with money to spend. Huaráz is the point of departure for adventure sport tourism, including mountaineering, trekking, biking, and river rafting. However, thanks to global warming, which has melted the glaciers on Mt. Pastoruri, it seems skiing not an option anymore.

In Huaráz's Plaza de Armas

Although we did not plan it that way, we happened to arrive at the start of a week of celebrations marking the 151st anniversary of the founding of the Province of Huaráz and the dedication of Huaráz as the provincial capital. The celebrations included a multitude of parades throughout the weekend featuring dancers in traditional costumes, bands belting out waynos, and frequent setting off of fireworks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hooray! I've been waiting for your blog with my mouth watering thinking of the food! Will that come later!
Keep it up with your love and appreciation for such a wonderful country~