7th February: On the bus to Huaraz. 8hrs. This is by far the best bus I’ve been on. Cost me 40 Sol which is £8. I’m almost in a business class section! SO much leg room, reclining seats and wonderful AC. During the drive I decide to count the dogs that we pass but it’s similar to counting sheep and I soon fall asleep. I find it amazing how when you see the mountains for afar you don’t think about the roads that are in them. These roads zig-zag from the bottom to the top and back down again. This is the safest I’ve felt on a bus so far. The roads in Peru feel safer too. The driver is very careful as our double decker hugs the edge of the road and we progress higher. Going back to sheep, I’ve just seen my first flock of them since I’ve been here. Reminds me of Christmas and that wonderful slow roast lamb I made. Mmm I day dream about Sal’s and my time in New York and New Jersey. Such fun we had! I’d love for her to be here and experiencing this with me. I have a feeling when I get home I’m gonna just be doing things alone for a while and she’ll call to ask where I am. “I came for dinner”.
“On your own?”
“Dammit, I forgot I was back!”
Or if she was here I’d just be writing notes for my blog.
Huaraz is very safe and so I wander into town for some dinner. I come across a nice little place called Trivio run by a self-made local. I opt for the homemade turkey burger with sweet potato fries and, wait for it… Blueberry Mayo! It’s the future. Move over garlic bread there’s a new kid in town. I have an early night (again, I’m so old) as I have my long trip tomorrow. Very excited.
Today I got up at 5am to be collected at 6am for a trip to Laguna 69. It’s a couple hours north of Huaraz. Spoke too soon about the roads being safer as we start our incline up another mountain and it’s not really a road. The ground is as uneven as Arsenal playing Charlton. As many pot holes as there would be goals conceded by the latter team. We’re in a minibus being rattled around. I think my organs have all traded places with one another. The views as we get higher just get better. I can feel the altitude as well. As we stop for some breakfast, i jump out the bus like a jack-in-a-box; springing into action. Forgetting my ankle is bad. I mean, it’s fine, it’s just hurts when I move it.. I guess I just won’t be able to have any dance offs. I have a breakfast roll, the food kind, I don’t mean that I start rolling around the floor. Imagine if I did though. I might do that one time. See what the reaction is like. You’ll know when I have as there won’t be anymore blog posts as I’ll probably have been sectioned. We stay here for 20mins before continuing our drive into the mountains when suddenly we come across our first lagoon, just out of nowhere there is this stunning blue water, so calm and beautiful.
We carry on some more before we start our hike. It’s 7km to Laguna 69 from the point where they drop us off and we start walking. It’s so fresh and clear to start with. Much like my mind was, I guess. I decided it would be best not to keep track of time as I would just become obsessed with it. As we start to walk up through the mountains there are waterfalls around us just crashing by. We have to use stepping stones to cross some streams and I slipped, which didn’t help my ankle. The fact that the cold water was now numbing it, however, did help. Which probably isn’t a good sign. I’ll have a look at it when we get there, I thought. As we get higher it gets colder but I had thermals on so wasn’t to fussed. Then comes the rain and that’s when it got harder. I asked the guide how much further it was and he said we were about half way. That’s when I died a little inside. My ankle hurt. My face was cold. My body was hot. Everything was wet. The thing I learnt very quickly was not to trust mountains. When we were at the bottom on the flat area, it looked like we were being blocked in by them. You can’t see the paths. It’ll just be at the top of this one, I thought. I was wrong. So we descend down this one and across a flat which is covered in cow pats and some mud puddles. It’s best not to confuse the two. One girl makes a step and loses her foot just to above the ankle in the mud. You want to laugh. Especially when all I could think of was that scene from The Vicar of Dibley where Dawn French’s date playfully jumps in a puddle and they giggle. Then she jumps into one and sinks all the way to her shoulders. Hilarious. We carry on and soon come to the next mountain incline. I’ve had enough now. I’m bored. I’ve seen enough mountain to last a while. Still, I carry on. And on. And Ariston (wonder how many will get that reference. I’m really 45). Eventually, after what felt like 6hrs just to get there, I see it. I see it in all its dazzling blue beauty. As if it has been waiting just for me. Waterfalls trickling down from the glacier which contain minerals that make it such a stunning blue. It’s truly amazing. Maybe worth the trip. No, it was. Had my ankle not been constantly in pain. We stop here and drink some tea for a bit before the guide says the dreaded word.. “Vamos!!”
“Fuck off!” I replied in my head with the same tone as his. Perfect two syllable fit. And off we go. It was a lot easier on the way back. Apart from the rain. That got heavier. And wetter. And louder. All was going well until I jumped from one stone to another and felt my ankle do something it shouldn’t. I bit my lip to hold in any scream I felt to let out. Breathed in through my nose and out through my mouth and carried on. About 40mins later I completely turned it over and fell down. Luckily by this point I was on the flat. That time I couldn’t hold the pain in. I got up. Tears mixed with the rain on my face and I was in agony. I still had about an hour to go. I had to go on and it was at this point that I started to question my whole life. Being rather dramatic. My life is more than fine, I know that. But when you’re in agony and need to still use part of your body to get you another hours distance, you don’t think straight. Well I don’t. I kept imagining my friends and family being at the end of the walk and them making it ok with a pint of Guinness and a bacon butty. Mmm brown sauce. Bloomer bread.
Eventually, I’m back at the bus. My fantasy remains just that. 14km round trip, 6hrs and a peak of 4500m. I take my boots off to inspect my ankle. No bruising. No swelling. Just pain. I don’t particularly like going to the doctors when I’m England never mind in another country, where my Spanish isn’t quite good enough yet to explain what has happened. When at home I usually txt my friends who are GPs, things like, “When I breathe in I sound like Darth Vader. Is this normal?” I receive a reply of, “No you probably have a chest infection. Go and get some antibiotics”. So I make an appointment, and I have that and I get the tablets. It feels like less of a wasted trip and then I’m not wasting the doctors time. Which I feel like now. There’s no obvious problem when looking at the ankle and I’ve sprained it enough times in my life to know what that would look like. But it’s not getting better and it has got worse. I think I’ll make my way to the medical centre and try to explain what has happened. Wish me luck. Tomorrow. Tonight I have just got back from that wonderful albeit painful trip. I’ll roll off the wagon (not fall as I don’t want to injure myself further) and drink some red wine for medicinal purposes.