We took a cab from Albergue Churup to El Pinar to start our first hike. El Pinar is a new "modern" gated community that was constructed about seven years ago to house the people who work for one of the mines.
The trek led us through the countryside and pueblitos. What a different world from the one I inhabit. Families own small parcels of land on which they grow food for their own consumption. We met traditionally dressed women herding their sheep or cows or oxen or pigs down the road, coming from or going to the fields to graze. Their houses, mostly made of adobe, are simple and many of them are painted with polical campaign messages (they apparently get paid to have these messages on their houses).
In the fields, or on a small patch of land in front of or beside the houses, animals are tethered rather than fenced in. The chickens run free (what we call "free range" chickens and pay more for) and dogs are everywhere.
After three hours of walking uphill, we reached Wilkawain, an archeological site. There were two buildings, one a three-story house that we were able to enter. The stone building is still standing solidly, quite a testament to the building science of the people.
While I was taking in the view and wrapping my mind around just where I was, a young man came over to say hello. (I am so glad that I know enough Spanish to have a conversation with Peruvians.) We spoke easily and freely and were soon joined by Inga. We continued to connect for a good 30-45 minutes before we carried on with our visit.
To get back to Huaraz, we took a collectivo, a van of sorts that picks people up who flag it along the way. Inga and I ended up sitting in the front seat which, as it turns out, were the best seats in the house. More and more people pilled into the van for the roughest (and quite exciting!) ride I have had. All this fun for 2 soles.