. This earthquake (that also destroyed Huaraz) caused an enormous avalanche coming from one of the biggest peaks in the area. When this happened, it completely covered and destroyed the city of Yungay. The story is that the entire town was covered in this avalanche and only about 100 out of the 18000 people survived. There is a cemetery in town that is on a small hill and is 5 stories high and only 3 of the 5 stories remain above ground. There are now some small ruins left of some of the buildings and there is an old minibus off to the side that is so eerie to look at because you know people were in that bus at some point. The city has now been rebuilt but there is this fabulous memorial showing what happened to the town and giving a few silent moments to those who perished. It was such a beautiful and touching day for all of us.
After Semana Santa, I had a sad goodbye to Kaytlin as she left to travel up to Colombia. Once she left I had to get ready for my "quick" trip up to Ecuador! I decided to do a ten day trip to Ecuador knowing I wouldn’t have the time to get up there after I left Huaraz. I ended up heading to Trujillo first and spent the day on the beach, enjoying the nice, warm sun. That day I bought my 20 hour bus ride up to Ecuador. I never realized how big Peru is until I had to travel up half of it! After sitting for 20 hours I was more than thrilled to get to my first destination, Guayaquil. Being used to the cold, rainy weather of Huaraz, I was not quite prepared for hot and humid, although I cannot complain! After meeting some great people in my hostel, I decided to adventure out into the city. Melacon 2000 is the main pedestrian walkway that follows the river for about 2 kilometers. Here they have markets, restaurants, parks and some very interesting statues. I was able to walk through this amazing little park and enjoy the shade and wildlife
. On this lovely walk I made my way up Las Peņas, which is a neighborhood with 444 steps to climb in order to get a great view of the city. At the top, called Fortin del Cerro, I was able to take in all of Guayaquil and enjoy la vista! Making my way around the city I saw some great plazas, churches and parks but my favorite place in Guayaquil was Parque Bolivar. Now, usually when people think of park animals they think of birds, squirrels, chipmunks but not in Parque Bolivar! The norm for this park was the iguanas!! Yes that is right, the iguanas! Here they have an abundance of iguanas just roaming around the park and these guys are not some lizards. The ranged from one to three feet long. I was very nervous the whole time but people were sitting on the benches letting the iguanas roam around their feet, so I realized it was alright. Once I had my day in Gauyaquil, I bought a ticket right away for Quito!
Only being an eight hour bus ride I was not worried about my future travel…. Man was I wrong! On the way to Quito, the bus had stopped around 2 in the morning. Thinking it was a pit stop I didn’t think anything of it. About a half hour later the bus driver comes up and tells the whole bus that there has been an accident with a truck carrying dangerous chemicals and we would be stuck there for quite a few hours. Since it was the middle of the night it wasn’t too bad, except for the fact that the bus driver had to save gas and turn off the engine, meaning no air conditioning
. It was so hot on the bus that people went outside to sleep on the ground and stay cool. Once I got to Quito I was happy to explore and walk around another great city! I met some wonderful people in my hostel who immediately asked me to join them to La Basilica! La basilica is this amazing cathedral built in 1883 and it is really incredible! We were able to walk to the very top tower, those who are afraid of heights beware, it’s high!!! Here we saw such a great view of the city. It is definitely my favorite monument-church I have seen in South America yet! The next day I took the tie to walk around old town and see some more great plazas and churches. Old town is in the heart of the city but it feels like a quaint little area to walk around. Quito was a perfect stopover in Ecuador!
My last but favorite city in Ecuador was Baņos. For those who plan on going to Ecuador I would highly recommend going there! It is this tiny little town three hours south of Quito that is really only there for the outdoor activities! You can do anything here! It is in this small valley between two major Volcanoes. It is pretty great because everything in this city is formed around the tourism… reminded me of a smaller Tahoe but even more activities. Since it is surrounded by volcanoes, there are a number of hot baths to go to and enjoy a little bit of nothing! So picking from a number of activities I decided to go white water rafting
! This was so fantastic. I have been before but the rapids here were much bigger and lasted longer. We were on the river for about 4 or 5 hours and it was so entertaining! We had one boat completely capsize and about 6 other people (including myself) fell out of the rafts. The whole day was really good! Coming back from rafting I was with a couple who were planning on doing one more activity. I thought I would try and tag along and found out that one of them was doing the bungee swing! Since I love jumping off things I decided to do it. We went to a bridge about 100 meters (328 feet) high and were placed on a 2 by 2 platform. I had taken a good 30 seconds to get my feet to the edge but when I did the jump was amazing! I swung under the bridge for about 2 minutes and then they lowered me down to safety. It was a great 20 dollars to spend on myself! The next day I ended up hiking up a mountain with some friends and planned my trip back to Peru. Baņos was so fun and I would go back right now if I could!
Making my way back to Peru was the longest journey I have made yet. I had met a wonderful Australian in Baņos who happened to be going to Huaraz the same time I was so I had a great friend to travel with. We ended up taking five buses, 33 hours of actual bus riding and around 40 hours of traveling, in order to get to Huaraz. We were absolutely beat and quite dirty when we got to Huaraz but we got there
! Since I had some time on my hands I decided to have some fun when I got back. My friend Elysia and I planned a trip up to Laguna 69, a great hike right outside of Huaraz. With some friends we did the day hike and enjoyed one of the most beautiful lakes I have ever seen. Even though the pictures don’t do it justice, they are still amazing. Wanting more we got back and planned a trip to go horseback riding for a half day! We trotted (very slowing) for four hours taking in the beautiful views of Huaraz and enjoying some time on the mountain. Being back is a little strange because I feel like is home. I am ready to really start traveling but these last few days in Huaraz are a bitter sweet feeling. For these last days I am spending as much time with friends and my students, trying to enjoy every moment. I was able to get together with some students and Margarita and make a very interesting dish called Pachamanca! It is supposed to be cooked underground but we put ours (chicken, potatoes, veggies and more) in a clay pot and cooked it on a fire that we built ourselves. It was such a delicious meal! I
Only having a couple more days here in Huaraz is hard but exciting at the same time. I have greatly enjoyed my time here and I am going to have a very difficult time saying goodbye to my new loved ones. Huaraz is like another home now and I have loved taking in the culture and new experiences that I have had here! It truly has been an unbelievable journey!!!
I can't believe how time is flying by! I have been so lucky to see and do so much and yet I am just beginning. After the crazy camping trip Peru had their celebrations for Semana Santa, which means Holy Week in Spanish and is always the week before Easter. I had an idea of what it might be like because of my time in Spain but this was a bit different and really interesting. There were precessions similar to Spain where they had marches and parades but what I really enjoy was the street art. They did this art on one of the main streets that was made with sand of all colors and some other materials. It was quite impressive! The details on the pictures (made with sand) definitely took some talent! Since it was Semana Santa we had a few days off of school and my friend Kaytlin and I went to a small pueblo called Yungay with Margarita (the teacher I work with) and some of our students! What is incredible and terribly sad about this city is what happened to it when Peru had the big earthquake in the 70s