Huaraz is a city 3200m/2miles above sea level. It was my introduction to the Peruvian Andes.
I ended up here by default. I had nowhere to be for Semana Santa (Easter Week) and I had to depart for my next stop from Huaraz.
It’s hard to believe I spent a week in Huaraz as it didn’t seem that long. There were a lot of interesting things happening for Easter Week as you’ll see below.
When I first got to Huaraz I felt fine. But a few hours later I felt like crap. I was tired, sluggish, and it felt like there was pressure behind my eyes. I realized I had altitude sickness, going from sea level to such a high altitude in just a three hour drive.
There’s not much you can do to overcome altitude sickness. Just wait, drink a lot of fluids, and in Peru/Bolivia drink lots of “Mate de Coca” – or tea made from the leaves of the coca plant (where cocaine comes from).
I was back to normal by my third day.
Huaraz is famous for its mountains. Some of the highest peaks are nearby and it has the highest concentration of mountain peaks. Many people come here to hike and trek and climb the mountains.
In Huaraz I tried a specialty from there “picante de cuy” or spicy guinea pig. I hadn’t tried it before despite seeing it already on the Colombia-Ecuador border and at Mitad del Mundo (the equator) in Ecuador.
I guess I wasn’t paying attention when they brought it to me. You can see the paw on the plate, which I recognized immediately. It wasn’t until later that I realized I was eating the head as I saw the signature two big teeth..
I wouldn’t say guinea pig is my favorite thing in the world and it was hard to tell what was edible and what wasn’t. It seemed mostly like chicharron, but it was ok.
Otherwise, you can see a picture of a shop selling chicken here. I have to say, I really like that people here see where meat comes from. It doesn’t come in nice packages here. You see the chicken hanging or you go to the market, where it smells horrible, and buy your piece of cow.
As I’ve said before, I’ll be a vegetarian after this trip is over. The smells in the markets in Casma and Huaraz only served to reinforce this as I’ll never be able to forget them. Below a picture of a roasted pig in the street – presumably being sold piece by piece.
To end on a better note, here’s a gigantic glass full of “surtido” or a mix of fruits turned into a juice. Very nice!
The world is my garbage can
I wrote a Que Caro Es Ser Pobre post a while back with this title, and I have periodically talked about this problem in various articles. But when I saw this sheep it just hurt me to see it having to navigate its way around all the garbage to eat some grass. Sad.
Huaraz is a pretty religious city and many tourists visit it for Easter to take in the festivities. I think the processions are the main outlets for this showing of religious support and adherence.
There was a midnight procession that was supposed to be the best, but I missed it as it was the night before I left and I didn’t feel good. This not feeling good turned into a full-fledged return of my amoebas/giardia for the third time. I don’t know why they always seem to strike when I’m going to travel 8+ hours on a bus..
Anyway, unfortunately I missed the main procession, but below are two that I did catch.
Huaraz was definitely an interesting place to visit. If you like hiking and trekking then it’s a must visit! Even if you don’t, it’s definitely beautiful, has a mix of cultures as many people come from the highlands to work there.
The best time to visit is June. It rained pretty much every day I was there, but predictably it occurred in the afternoon. The rainy season is my shadow!
Unfortunately, I left Huaraz with horrible stomach problems, but more on that once I get to Yauya…
Thanks again to Ben at Benkawasi for letting me stay for free and write an article about his awesome hostel!