From Trekking in the Cordillera Blanca to Culture Shock in Miraflores: A Long Title for Possibly the Last Post

Word up.

So I managed to escape the severe-sunburn-inducing beach town of Huanchaco, but by no means unscathed (actually, my left arm and shoulder made it out OK, but everthing else is currently peeling). I arrived in the cold little town of Huaraz, which is situated in a beautiful setting, surrounded by the craggy peaks of the Cordillera Blanca, home of the highest peaks in the Andes. There are over twenty peaks here at over 6000 meters, with the highest at about 6800. Obviously, this is the place for some hardcore trekking and climbing. Unfortunately, due to the season, the latter was out of the question, but many excellent hikes remain open year-long. I booked myself on a four-day excursion to Santa Cruz, an especially beautiful mountain in a region of beautiful mountains.

Unfortunately, this is what we saw:

Yes, we spent the entire first day hiking through fog and snow. We occasionally got a tantalizing glimpse of the base of a mountain (the guide kept pointing way up into the fog and saying, “and there are three beautiful mountains!”), but on the whole we had to imagine what we were seeing.

We were again hiking at high altitudes, and thank goodness I’ve been acclimatized! The rest of the group was experiencing severe difficulties in trying to hike up the hills at these elevations, while I just trucked on. Plus, the coca leaves really help a lot.

Fortunately, the next day was a bit better, with sunshine in the morning. We hiked through a beautiful flat valley, and were often rewarded with views huge, snowy peaks. Sadly, it was the day before that we were actually hiking in the peaks, but it was still a lovely hiking experience. I’m not going to put any of those pictures in this post, but rather a picture I took of a flower of which I’m somewhat proud.

Anyways, I’m unfortunately (for you) feeling rather uninspired to write in my blog — I’m doing so out of a vague sense of obligation, though I do get a certain satisfaction from doing it.

I’ve read lots of cool books on my journey, and quite a few really horrible ones too. I read a great Samuel Clemens semi-autobiography (for those of you who are unschooled in the ways of classic American literature, Clemens’ nom-de-plume is the more commonly known Mark Twain) of his adventures in the Wild West, entitled “Roughing It.” I also read a book by a Canadian author previously unbeknownst to me, John Metcalf. The book, “General Ludd,” is one of the best books I’ve read for a really long time, and you shoud all read it. It’s a cuttingly satirical comedy focussing on poetry, the university system, and Canadian society. I really cannot praise it enough. And finally, right now I’m reading some real literature (the last word is to be read in a haughty British accent): Dostoevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov.” For the first time in some years I am reading a book where I feel that much is going right over my head, but at the same time much is going through it as well. I’m only a mere hundred pages in, but I’m convinced that it is fully deserving of the previously-mentioned bold-faced label. Yes, I know I’m in South America to appreciate South American culture, but at heart I’m a reader, and a lover of good books.

So now I’m in Lima, in the suburb of Miraflores. It is here that I am currently experiencing strong culture shock, or perhaps reverse culture shock is a more accurate expression. This place is just like Canada: no street vendors, busy roads packed with shiny new single-occupant vehicles, and the unexpected presence of Pizza Hut, Scotiabank, and (gasp) Starbucks. Suddenly, instead of being well-dressed, I’m a slob again, even though my clothing has not changed. The price of everything has suddenly quadrupled, and I’m hard-pressedx to get my boots shined. Honestly, it’s horrible, and I’m going to start making the daily commute to the grimy Central Lima, where I can again get diarrhea from street food and smell the odor of calf stomach sitting in the sun. I came here because I thought this is what I wanted, but after a mere four hours here I’m ready to get out again! Ah well, it’ll be good acclimatization for my return to Canada.

Anyways, I’m done for now. I’m going to head back to the hostel and try to scrub the Nescafe stains out of my white t-shirt (mission impossible, I know, but I just did laundry yesterday, dammit! It never fails . . .). Hope this post finds all you readers fine and dandy! And for those of you who are enjoying this blog, please give a little something back! I can’t tell you how voraciously I read your comments and emails (mainly because I hardly get any). Here, let me help you. Email me at turvyc (at) gmail (dot) com. The address must be written like that in the blog text to protect against spam-fishers: geek-jerks write programs that fish through the source of millions of web pages looking for the username@domain.com format, and upon finding these addresses, they add them to the cheap viagra and penis enlargement advertisment mailing lists. Definitely something to be avoided, especially since I need neither of these products.

Anyways, ciao.

‘K Bye.

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~ by turvyc on April 9, 2008.

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