After two weeks in Mancora, we realized it was time to mosey on. Initially, we planned on zipping through Peru but by this point, like barnacles on the side of a BP cruiser about to dump 450 million gallons of oil onto unsuspecting fish, we’d accrued other backpacker friends and had committed to traveling as a group, at least for the next little while. Rather than take the time to individually introduce you to all of our new acquaintances, I’ll just reduce them to the countries they come from because that feels kind: 2 Brits and 6 Aussies, then about two weeks later we accrued another Brit, a German, and a Swede.
Anyway, we set off in the dark of night for our next stop with Maddy and Alice: Trujillo. The town of Trujillo is home to literally fives of Peruvians, and situated right next to the ruins of Chan-Chan, technically in the next town over named Huanchaco. Huanchaco is on the beach so when we showed up in nothing but a speedo, a towel, and hot pink floaties we were rather disappointed to discover the water was cold and the beach was rocky.
We arrived too late in the day to see the ruins, so our first (and only) night there was spent discovering what there was to see of the town. That’s a euphemism for: we went to a bakery twice because they sold alfajores (South American cookie made with shortbread, dulce de lece, and crack apparently) and we just couldn’t get enough and split our time at the cookie factory with dinner at a hole-in-the-wall called Menuland that deserves three Michelin stars. Nick said his burger was the best he’s ever had (Nick also talks exclusively in attention-gathering hyperbole but you get the point) and everyone’s food comes with a basket of 10-12 sauces for dipping. Now would probably be a good time to inform you that few activities turn me on more than dipping foods in other foods. Dipping things in other things is like your crazy friend who turns up at random moments and always makes sure the party keeps going until at least 3 in the morning: it just makes everything better. In fact, the dipping tray was so dope, I’m going to skip describing the boring-ass ruins we visited the next day so I can list for you a small sampling of the sauces I was able to dip my food into at Menuland Huanchacho:
Honestly this the most interesting
part of these ruins. Next.
· Honey mustard
· AND SO MUCH MORE
Anyway whatever then we saw some ruins and they were boring so we reunited with our friend Liam and peaced. ON TO HUARAZ!
Huaraz, Peru is a fairly size-able city in its own right that’s primarily a haven for backpackers because of its Laguna 69 hike. There, we rendezvoused with more Aussies we had left behind in Mancora and settled in for a 2-night stretch. On day 1 we did an acclimatization hike because Laguna is at an incredibly high altitude. Hike 1 was gorgeous but without much to describe specifically, other than a magical encounter with a pig. (see video).
Here’s the rundown of what you need to know about Huaraz, though:
· This girl we met took us to this Indian restaurant that literally has no name because it’s just a guy cooking for you….at his house….but he brings you an all you can eat feast for less than $5 US and if you tell him that you’re full and couldn’t possibly eat another bite of the heaping pile of food he’s continuously putting on your plate he’ll get offended so it’s honestly best to rupture your stomach. I remember neither the location of this unicorn restaurant nor of the girl who took me here but I owe both of you a lot. And girl, I’m sorry for telling Nick I thought you were obnoxious when I first met you. If I had known the gift you were about to bestow on me I would have said “annoying” rather than “obnoxious.” So please accept this humble apology.
· We found a tiny bar called ayahuasca in Huaraz. Our group of 10 took up the entire place and Nick convinced the bartender to play Britney followed by everyone's personal anthem My Neck, My Back (if you're over 40 and reading this don't bother googling; it's vulgar and NSFW). I was outside discussing the relative feminist virtues of stripping but I assume the bartender was properly shooketh.
· OK, putting on my serious mask for this one: Of our entire time in South America, Laguna 69 was an absolute top 5 experience. To do the hike from Huaraz, you have to board the bus at 4 am without coffee, and even I’ll go on the record as saying how worth it the experience is. I felt rather emotional at several points throughout the hike because it’s so rare to be completely surrounded by that much beauty, let alone have the scenery so drastically change several times throughout a hike. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, but hiking Laguna 69 for me was overwhelming and left me incredibly grateful to be alive to experience such breathtaking marvels. If you find yourself in or around Peru at all, please please please do yourself a favor and go to Huaraz to take advantage of this hike. Scientists currently estimate we have somewhere between 4 and 17 minutes until the Republicans destroy the last trees on earth so I’d probably get on that sooner rather than later.
From Huaraz, it was on to Lima. Stay tuned!