Monday, November 13, 2006

Santa Cruz Trek Day 4

Day 24
The day starts. It's raining. I can't wait to escape this valley. According to the map it's still a long way down. My feet are murder. I have some strange blisters I haven't had to deal with before. Basically what's happened is that everything is so sodden that my skin is wrinkling up as if I've been in the bath too long. These wrinkles on the bottom of my feet are then rubbing to form blisters. As I find out later when I get the boots off, I have what appears to be the largest blister of my life, covering the whole area behind my big and second toes on one foot! So down I go, and I must say I was glad that I had done the extra hours the day before. I'm assuming the group will head down to where I camped (just after probably) in the morning, then do the finish in the afternoon. Another day? No thanks!

Of course, as I approached the end of the valley, the rain stopped. And for the last twenty minutes or so? Sunshine! How amusing! It was only when exiting that one realised how impressive the gorge looked from above or below - an enormous cut in a vast wall of earth. No photos as all of my cameras were almost dripping wet, and I've learnt the hard way (in Nepal) not to try to use them till they're thoroughly dried! I reached the hut where permits were to be checked, of course no one was bothering. Dropped things, asked a local girl if this was the right place for a collectivo (shared car or bus), yes it was, so I waited in the sun. [GPS: 08.95691S, 77.77746W]. When he came, it was an empty car, he asked me whether I wanted taxi or collectivo (shared) service, I said collectivo, though in fact he hardly picked up any other passengers. I felt fortunate, as you can imagine how they cram these cars full if the people are there - 4 or 5 in the boot, 5 across the back seat, two in the passenger seat etc. Not fun! Anyway, was 8 soles to Cuaraz, the regional main town, not a bad fare for an hour and a half of hair-razing whizzing round mountainous bends!

In Cuaraz it was baking hot, but I didn't mind - a new sensation compared with the past few days! I walked down to the main road, and found a collectivo to Huaraz. I regretted not overcoming my safety sensibilities when lollypops were offered through the window! And absolutely no leg room whatsoever! But all I could think of was bed and hot shower waiting for me at the end of this trip. Many of the towns we passed through had the girls in particularly really beautifully dressed. The previous driver had said something to me about a fiesta, but didn't quite get what he was on about. This driver had what I thought was an election rally broadcast on nearly full volume, but it turned out to be football commentry!

Back to Chirrup, collapse. stuff off. feet murder, muscles aching, mineral water, and a lovely hot shower, though my feet stung from being wet again! Gave reception a load of laundry, unfortunately they charge by the kg and most of it was sodden! Should have dried it first, probably would cost half as much! My craving now was for a salad. All I'd eaten for the past few days was noodles, pringles, ritz biscuits (and they don't taste half as nice over here, I can tell you, they use Kraft cheese in them), and two bars of hersey's chocolate. I needed fruit and vegetables desperately. My plan was to high-tail it down to Cafe Andino, where I'd had a lovely baked-trout salad just before setting off. This I did, but not before being held up by torrential rain again! Ahhhh green stuff!

Hobbled back (I really am walking like an invalid at the moment), and now the task is to try to dry everything, I have stuff hanging in all corners of room. I bought some beers on the way back as they're out here. Pilsen Callao, the local "pilsner", which is really quite bitter for a pilsner. Anyway, better than nothing. Not being able to sleep, fire up Faithless... "I can't get no sleeep"! Now the advantages of this new room I have are firstly that if there aren't clouds, I have spectacular views over the Cordillera Blanca. The second is I appear to have wifi. The disadvantage is that it's extremely weak and very unreliable. It's there all the time, but my laptop will just sit sending packets with nothing in return. Then suddenly it will work! Grrrr. Almost (but not quite) worse than not having it at all.

Finally decide to have a beer to send me to sleep.. which kind of works. Tomorrow is relax day, and time to reconsider Huayhuash based on this weather

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