Ancascocha to Camicancha
Trip Start Oct 01, 2009
11Trip End Oct 27, 2009
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The early morning air was cold and damp with the clouds hovering around the camp site, I decided that I wanted to take in my surroundings and went for a walk alone. It was an amazing place, there were horses all around the hillsides and many were barely visible in the morning mist. The sound of the rapids filled my ears, the cool air filled my lungs and the grandeur of my surroundings overwhelmed. "How fantastic it is to be alive" went through my mind as I stood high on the hillside, alone, looking down towards the camp. How amazing was it that I, a guy who loved his home comforts had made it this far, I was in one of the remotest parts of the world, I was living in a dream and ultimately I felt mentally better than I had done for years
After my walk I headed off to breakfast in the school room and this morning everyone was treated to pancakes and maple syrup, under normal circumstances this would have been fantastic however at altitude I had no appetite, I ate half a small pancake and that was it for me. The rest of the group appeared to be going through the pancakes as quickly as they could be cooked, sorry guys, it's true.
When we had finished breakfast we had a chance to meet the Ancaschocha school children, there were only 4 of them as 2 were in hospital due to illness and a 7th wasn't due to join the school for a few weeks. The children had prepared a song for us, I haven't got a clue what it was they were singing but it was so sweet to hear them. After their performance we were then asked to sing a song to them, we were not prepared for this and the group went silent, a few moments later Ann (a group member) said lets sing the wheels on the bus. Perfect, I thought, I know that one. We all sang along and the children smiled, they did not understand a word we were singing and they probably gained more amusement from the fact that a group of 30 adults stood in front of them singing badly and clapping their hands, oh well at least we made them smile.
Dee had gone around the group collecting for the school earlier in the morning and between us we had raised over 820 sol, approx £200, this was a huge amount considering the locations and the value of money in this remote area, we were advised that this was too much and that the money would be managed by one of the tour guides (Max) in order to ensure it was spent correctly. Max had worked with the highland communities for some time and had helped set up a number of projects that increased self sufficiency and the standard of living, we felt assured by the fact he would be taking control. Dee presented the school teacher with 50 sol to use for the school, this would help by books and teaching materials, it is amazing what a small amount of money can buy and how this can improve the future of otherwise forgotten children.
As with the Soc ma school, gifts bought from the UK were presented to the children by the group and again the look of joy on their faces was priceless, overwhelming and completely humbling. Once the gifts had been handed out the kids spontaneously began to hug us, it was so touching, these little kids were so appreciative, their faces were filthy, they looked like they had nothing in the world and yet they were so happy, I defy anyone not to feel the emotions of a moment like this, it is when you realise that life is not about what you have it is about what you do, it is about giving, sharing, loving and caring, it is about always finding the pleasure in things, being thankful for what you have and not being hung up on what you don't have. Those children were grateful for what they received from us however it was us that took the real gift, the reminder, the wake up call, the realisation of how good life is and that living is a privilege.
Ok so now on to today's trek, Ancaschoca to Camincancha, some 1,000 meters below. We set off, spirits high amongst the group, the weather was dull, grey and much cooler than we had been used to. We walked for 10-15 minutes before stopping at a small dwelling with 2 ladies standing outside, we were told by Max that the elder of the 2 ladies was over 100 years old, she didn't know exactly how old she was as she had forgotten, the other lady was her daughter and was 65, I am not lying when I say that neither of them looked anywhere near their ages and the benefits of living up so high in the mountains were clearly far greater than any botox injection. We stayed here for a few minutes whilst they showed us how they stored potato's under piles of straw and then continued on our way.
The next few hours were filled with the sound of rushing water as we followed the rapids down the valley, the landscape changed dramatically from the dryness at 4,000 meters to lush green vegetation as we moved down the mountain. The path we followed was littered with orchids and other flowers, we were treated to a number of waterfalls and we crossed several bridges made of mud, eucalyptus and straw.
Late afternoon we arrived at some flat lands, a welcome change from the steep mountains we had been navigating for the past few days, we passed some small holdings where cattle roamed and young children played, the sun had come out and was beaming down on us and high above the glaciers shone like beacons
When we arrived at camp we were greeted by the most magnificent of views, we were also advised that we could bath in the river which we were told was not too cold. There were also showers available and for the first time in 5 days we could have a proper wash. I took the options of bathing in the river, I was in Peru and wanted to experience everything I could, I put on my swimming shorts and in I went, my word it was freezing, it was a real shock to the system but well worth it, I felt refreshed and rejuvenated.
This evenings meal was a very special one, we were treated to lamb and potato's cooked in a traditional Peruvian way. An oven was built out of stones in the earth, the stones were heated until they were white and then the structure was knocked down, fresh chunks of lamb were then placed on some of the stones along with the potato's and then the remaining hot stones were placed on top of the food. The whole thing was then covered over with damp cardboard, straw and earth... The meat was left to cook for 40 minutes and then served to the group, it was delicious, not sure I would repeat the process at home but it was a real treat at the end of a long day.
Finally we finished the day off with a camp fire, a few beers (our first in days) and some good old fashion conversation.