Thursday, November 16, 2006


Went out for a haircut today. Figured I need a trim (recorte el pelo). Despite a chap cutting hair in the window, I ended up with a woman, a rather attractive one at that, though she did have something of the ladyboy about her (I still have fond memories of those pictures Kalpesh or Seamus sent round, haha!). Now, I'm the least chauvinistic bloke about, as Surbjit will confirm, but when it comes to cutting hair, I think same-sex just works better, for both sides. Anyway, she potters about doing things, not thinning out the top as I always require, then suddenly, CHOP, out comes the cut-throat razor as she does side-burns and round the back. Now I don't know about you, but having an unclean second-hand used-on-others blade that could end your life in a second hacked around very firmly on your skin is not a pleasant experience. Worse still, I tensed up and had that feeling like my muscles are about to spasm, thereby throwing aforementioned neck into the blade.

I close my eyes.. "relax, relax. think relaxing thoughts. think of something else. pizza for example. pizza. knife, slicing through the.. nooo think of something else.. sailing.. there you go, sailing, tranquil...". Soon it's over, she asks me if I want her to shave the rest of my beard off, "nooooo", and although she hasn't thinned (something I guess I should be pleased I still have to ask for, mentioning no names, haha), so I stop her undoing the bib thing and do an impression of thinning out scissors with my hands. She refers to chap, and he comes over, and I kid you not, cuts my entire hair again!! This time with thinning though. Still... And worse, I get the cut-throat blade out again! When it's over, I tip the price of the cut again (5 soles) just to escape quickly and not have to wait there any longer. I made it alive, and had my tetanus jabs before coming so should live to fight another day! Hurrah!

Tomorrow might set off on Huayhuash trek. Tomorrow or day after. I'm kinda biding my time (it's afternoon now) seeing what the weather is doing, which is a bit ridiculous of me as the weather could be totally different in the range, and probably will be. Okay I'm a bit nervous! If I decide to do it, I need to wander down to buy a ticket later, and I'll get a pizza on the way back. Yum. I've bought all the provisions I need, though not for a 12 day trek. How do you sensibly carry food for 12 days (I mean in addition to all the other stuff like tent). You just can't really. Not unless you're just having noodles every day, and I learnt the error of trying to do that on Santa Cruz. This time I have meat (if you could frankfurter sausages as meat), fish, and more chocolate. Still, the main issue with cooking on SC trail was that it was pouring with rain, so I couldn't really do much but batton down the hatches and sit tight. Hope the same won't happen this time.

So I have three plans for this trek, depending on the weather and how hard I am feeling.

All start with bus (5:30am) to Chiquian. I haven't bought the ticket yet. Am watching the weather here in Huaraz. If it pours with rain I might wait another day.

Plan 1. This assumes worst weather. Bus or something on to Llamac, or further if the road goes further. Trek Matacancha to Laguna Mitacocha, then reverse. This time head back via Punta Rondoy , past Laguna Yahuacocha, and back to Llamac.

Plan 2. This assumes weather is fine for first week, then deteriorates. As plan 1, but instead of reversing, head down the Eastern side of the Cordillera, and finishing in Cajatambo. This will have the best views for effort ratio.

Plan 3. The assumes marvellous weather. The full circuit! Including the 5000m pass! I have to say, I don't have enough food to do this option, so it's not particularly likely, though I think there is the possibility of picking stuff up along the way.

Another point of note is security. I am trekking on my own. I've considered taking someone with a mule, but have decided against it until now because I then become responsible for someone, and don't have the flexibility of doing what I want when I want. One of the nice things about Santa Cruz was that I did some nasty very long days, but one day quit at lunchtime. Plus not speaking Spanish is going to be an issue with a local person, especially the type who will probably be an arrieros (mule handler).

Apparently it's the Eastern side where most robberies (and murders, though not for a couple of years now) occur. Now instead of (or maybe in addition to) getting robbed, you get charged by lots of people for walking across or near their land. The amount is supposed to be semi-formalised but they often ask for more, and things could get nasty if you refuse (hence murders etc). I wish the authorities would formalise it into a single charge at gateway to park, like Santa Cruz and so many other trekking regions. A permit system, that's what they need. So this is a major consideration for Plan 1, that it skips this whole side. Also getting back to Huaraz is a bit of a pain from Plan 2. So I think Plan 1 is the favourite regardless of weather!!

We shall see...

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