|Jan on hike to Wilcahuin|
But today, we were eager to apply our learning and brought our rain gear just in case. We planned a hike to Willcahuin (or Wilcawain) about 6 km from town. We got a hand-drawn map from our hosts, some brief instructions and off we went.
The hike took an unpaved road and led through many small villages along the way. Most people here are living in small spaces and off the land; a way of life that might be described as traditional. Certainly their dress was traditional. To me it looked like a hard way to live: from tilling a field with a single plow and cows to spinning wool by hand to doing laundry on rocks; it is a manual lifestyle that is slow and demanding.
Along the way, it was clear that hikers were not an unusual sight. Everyone greeted us and we them. Since arriving here we have quickly adapted to the polite and friendly ways of Peruvians where greetings are just part of being human. It's also a habit that seems to survive better in rural areas rather than cities anywhere.
It took us only 2 hours from El Pinar to get there. Pinar is a gated community that belongs to a mining company where they house their staff (foreign, usually) at the outskirts of Huaraz. And the rain held off until our return to Huaraz mid-afternoon. My altimeter (what a perfect gift for my 40th bday last year) pegged it at about 3,400 m, making it perfect for a first hike up.
|La casa de nietos on the right,|
the information centre on the left
The good news is that the hiking felt easy, I only got sunburned where I mis-applied the sunscreen (the sun is powerful at this altitude) and we enjoyed the ride in the Collectivo on the way down from the front seat. Let's just say, we got to see every nook and cranny in this unpaved road as we seemingly flew downhill it. All in all a fine day. And, importantly, I haven't had a headache since yesterday morning. (Jan never had one at all!)