Huaraz: The Miscellaneous Post

Trip Start Sep 08, 2012
Trip End Nov 27, 2012

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

When I wasn´t volunteering, I was out exploring trying to get a feel for Huaraz. Minus the traffic congestion (which is a common denominator of all the bigger towns/cities I have visited in Peru), it´s actually quite a laid back place. Apart from the standard watch your stuff awareness, it was a relief to not have people in my face trying to sell me sketches, necklaces, large scale manufactured hats, postcards, bracelets, etc. There were still the artist markets, street vendors and the occasional random guy selling black tights, but their energy seemed primarily focused on selling their wares to whomever and not so much on getting the gringo sole. 

Along with usual Plaza de Armas feature, there are two gringo squares in Huaraz. One of which is home to 13 Buhos Cafe, a favorite among locals and backpackers alike. 13 Buhos (13 owls) makes its own beer -Lucho´s beer- which is quite delicious. They also make a coca infused brew that is thumbs up! My introduction to 13 Buhos was during their Oktoberfest celebration-- lots of drinking contests, smoking and general good-natured rowdiness. Unfortunately our table representative lost the contest and we didn´t receive the prize of free beer. I was secretly thankful, as the beer was strong and I had to volunteer in the morning! HA!

Other than 13 Buhos, California Cafe and Cafe Andino are the other two main gringo hangouts in town. California Cafe has an extensive travel book selection which was especially helpful when I was starting to plan for Ecuador (I was without a guide book and had yet to find a cheap one). Overall, the staff was very friendly and helpful. The clientele seemed to be an interesting blend of international climber meets new agey meets young hippie backpacker. I wonder what the wuzzle manifestation of this would be?

While researching and drinking a cuppa at California Cafe, I met a writer from Toronto who was on her way to an ayahuasca healing retreat. From what I understood, ayahuasca is a plant medicine used to aid in the expulsion of internal energy blockages. Ingesting this plant is also said to help accelerate spiritual growth (and apparently also makes you ´trip balls´). If this plant were legal in the states, CA and OR would be littered with these healing centers!

Writerlady told me that during the retreat, participants agree to a special modified “dieta” which helps to prepare the body for the release of toxic energy. Along with the food restrictions, there is also a no sex rule (which continues on for weeks after the retreat ends). I don´t think they specify this on the website but this is what Writerlady told me. I thought this was absurd at first but then upon reflection it made sense. Think about how challenging it would be to clean your own energy never mind having someone else´s creeping around inside you like a thief in the night... HA!

Anyway, Writerlady was skeptical about the experience but definitely curious. While she was telling me about the retreat, she pointed out the organizer who happened to be there (I guess he and his posse are regulars). We had a good chat then walked around town for a bit. When we parted that afternoon, Writerlady said she would drop a line to let me know how the retreat went but I´ve yet to hear. I hope she survived the experience OK!

Cafe Andino, on the other hand, is more of a climber/backpacker than a new age hippie hangout. It´s a really cozy two story joint with amazing views and good reads. The food is meh and overpriced but I suppose that´s because you´re paying for the wifi? Most of the folks working there were nice except for the hipster kid, who incidentally reminded me of the waitstaff at Cricket Cafe in Portland (think: ´whatever´). Regardless, it was still quite pleasant to relax at. Unfortunately on my last night in town, I had what I thought was going to be a healthy meal in preparation for two really long travel days turn into a most horrid epic event of sickness. Dear Cafe Andino, your quinoa salad has poisoned and/or parasite(d)me! Boo on you! Sometimes it seems as though the fried foods are safer to eat in Peru. 

There were a couple of fun/good food highlights though: Sex Burger and the ´cake lady.´ Sex Burger is a dish best served drunk- I got a burger sober and it was alright, a bit like Wendy´s but not as good. On the plus side, the 1 sole hot chocolate we got was the best I had in Peru!  The ´cake lady´ operated out of a storefront window at inconsistent -Peruvian- times. Her ´tres leches´ cake was out of this world and deserves lots of prizes for mind blowing awesomeness.

WARING: A visit to both Sex Burger and the ´cake lady´ in one night should only be attempted while taking sildenafil (aka Viagra) or ecstasy or whatever the kids are taking these days so as be able to fully handle such blow-your-mind-all over-your-face awesomeness. Although from what I´ve read, I don´t think using Viagra recreationally has ever actually been proven to increase libido but hopefully, you´ll get the crazy point I´m trying to make... or not. 

Random side note: did you know that sildenafil has been used to treat altitude sickness?

Moving away from the food scene to the unwanted attention front-  since some of you may be curious about what it´s been like in that department. I have only been approached when looking -what I think- has been my most safely unappealing... like a dirty, smelly hiker wearing only practical yet unflattering outfits. Come to think of it, I don´t think I have anything with me that would even remotely whisper look at me. I look like the exact opposite of the girl dancing in this video.

I had one guy approach me on the street. He looked a lot like my glacier tour organizer at first so I welcomed the conversation but then quickly realized it wasn´t him. After chatting for a few mintues, he then decided he was going to follow me to the market hoping to talk some more. The most memorable part of our conversation was when he asked me to explain to him what the differences between American and Peruvian men were. Oy! Very sexy stuff but I was hungry and wanted my damn avocado from the market so I could make my tostada pronto! My potential future husband was quite humorous for about 10 minutes until I decided I was over it. On a new twist of the Irish Goodbye, I managed to get away from PFH and take a different route back to the apartment sans avocado. Ugh! 

Irish Goodbyes should only be attempted during the day and never when leaving a bar or party after 10pm no matter how tired you are. It´s just not a good idea but that´s part of the price of admission in South America.

Luckily when I got back to the apartment, Sally was around and agreed to accompany me back to the market so I could pick up some avocados. Yay! The other occasion of unwanted attention was when I was whistled at while doing laundry on the roof, another sexy venue. The boys were soooo brave from across the way. I just laughed at them. 

Other than that, I spent a lot of time wandering around checking out the various town murals and a few of the ´menu´ places (´menu´ is almost exclusively available at lunch and usually consists of a starter, main course, juice and a postre). There was also the birthday fiesta held in honor one of our Seeds´ kids. It was a great celebration complete with cuy, which I ate part of a brain of (it tasted like cream cheese!). Later in the evening we danced up a storm and I even managed to bust out a few of my moves while dancing with the grand mom. Fun! And then it was late and I turned into a pumpkin... 

A great ending to my time in Huaraz was the amazing feast featuring ponche and picarones (two more amazing food highlights) we had on my last full night. Ponche is delicious (es muy rico!) chai like drink and picarones are deep fried donuts with special sugar sauce that are again out of this world. Yum! Overall, it was nice to have a place to be for a couple of weeks but by the end I was starting to get itchy for my move north. If I were to volunteer again, I would definitely commit to at least a month, two weeks is just too short to explore and volunteer in the same place.

Hope you enjoyed this wacky, random, miscellaneous, and a bit disjointed installment... 

Thanks for reading!

PS I can now proudly say that I feel comfortable buying food at the local markets- thank you dear Ellen for the initial schooling on this. You are a great teacher! Oh yeah and I also braved pizza again which was good this time!
Huaraz playlist: 
Corre Corre Corazon 
Lejos de ti 
Give Me Everything 
Good Feeling (for Wily!) 
And Sally´s Awesome Playlist featuring:
           Eva Cassidy´s cover of Songbird 
           Black and Gold
           And some other great stuff... 
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Aunt Debbie on

Love reading your blog, stay safe. Have fun with Aunt you

Blind Bill E. on

LOL... the "Irish Goodbye". Finally "caught up" to your adventure blogs.. seems like, (minus multiple stomach issues) that you're having a blast and learning a lot. Thanks for the Portland shoutout!


Leslie on

Finally had the chance to catch up on your amazing adventures! Looking forward to seeing your face in just a few weeks! Anything special we should have waiting for you?

mc1rvariant on

Just your smiling faces! I am so excited to see you guys and to settle in to the new apartment of awesome! I hope all is well with you! Thanks for reading!
PS I still like the idea of the fancy "conservatory" party. HA!
PPS And perhaps a holiday Buffy marathon??

mc1rvariant on

Love you- favorite aunt on my mom's side! Thanks for all the support!

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