FINALLY left the city!! This past weekend, we had an extended holiday for Semana Santa in which we did not have classes Thursday or Friday so my friends and I packed our bags and left for the mountains immediately after classes on Wednesday and returned early Sunday morning. As if the beautiful scenery wasn’t enough, I couldn’t have asked to have traveled with a better group of people. I went with five students from Mexico, four from Chile, four from Colombia, and one from China. We grew into a family over the course of the trip and I already miss spending every single moment with them.
We traveled by bus to Huaraz, a city near the Parque Nacional Huascaran. During the bus ride, we were all talking and one of my Chilean friends asked me if I slept well on buses or not. To his, and others’ surprise, I honestly did not know because I have never traveled by bus in this way before. Again with public transportation differences, but in the US I either use my car or a plane to travel long distances. These well established bus companies and stations just are not that big of a thing in the US. I only know of greyhound buses and would have to do a google search to figure out how to use them. My other Latin American friends all had prior experiences with overnight bus travel.
To buy our bus tickets, we went to Plaza Norte a few weeks ago to talk to all the different companies and find the best price (during Semana Santa, all prices increase tremendously and online prices, if they exist, are always higher). We ended up deciding on a really cheap and fairly unknown bus company called Z-Bus. As it got closer to time to leave, and more and more people told me about all the insecurity that comes with bus travel, I started to get really nervous about traveling so cheaply. Thankfully though, we arrived without problems (and with many jokes about Z-Bus). The funniest of all was that on the back of every seat, there was writing that said something along the lines of “el mejor asiento para el mejor sueño” or “the best seat for the best sleep”. The seats only reclined to an awkward angle and were not the most comfortable… you get what you pay for I guess. On the way back I traveled with the more expensive, but safe and well known Cruz del Sur – completely different experience to have pillows, blankets, food, and television provided.
Every morning we woke up early in order to take a tour bus to the hike(s) for the day. Although we stopped at other places along the way, the main places we went were laguna paron, tunnel punta olympia, laguna 69, and pastoruri (which is a giant glacier). Although I took medicine in advance and during for the altitude, it still affected me some. Whenever I went to Zion National Park this past spring Ole Miss outdoors, we all talked like the Angel’s Landing hike was really high altitude. There in Utah, I had absolutely no problems. Well, finally, after several days on the trip in Huaraz, I converted the height of Angel’s Landing to meters so that I could compare it. Angel’s Landing is 1,765 meters. Huaraz, the town where we spent the night, is at 3,052 meters. Pastoruri, the highest hike we did, is 5,204 meters. No wonder my body was not accustomed to altitude!
Also, I am becoming increasingly annoyed that the US only uses meters and celsius in science classes. Conversations about weather and altitude are supposed to be easy small talk conversation pieces, but they are not whenever you do not use the same measurement system.
Honestly, I cannot put into words just how wonderful, beautiful, and restorative this trip was. But this is why photographs exist. I hope you enjoy!