Of All the Random Things – Highlights from Huaraz

Foreign Service LifePeru
July 2, 2012

Hi All – Miss me?  We just got back from a SENSATIONAL 4 day trip to the Peruvian Andes.  We went to Hauraz, location of the Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Negra Mountain ranges.  I wouldn’t call myself a mountain person, but I may just be a convert after this trip.  The beauty was absolutely out-of-this-world.  Today’s feature is about the random little things that surprised/delighted me on this trip.  ENJOY!

Sarah

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Highlight #1: The 8 hour overnight bus ride.  We picked the “Business Class” section, which set us back $35 a person (one way). Quite honestly, I slept like a baby.  It was even better than Business Class Flying.  The seats went down nearly flat, they brought around USB devices with different movies loaded on them for you to play on your personalized screen AND we got a quilted blanket and pillow (that actually kept me warm).  Two thumbs up for Movil bus lines.  My only complaint, the crappy hot dog sandwich – handed out at 11:30 PM, consisting of one hotdog, sliced down the middle, opened up and placed on a hoagie.  I know you can do better in that department Movil, otherwise keep up the good work!

Highlight #2:   Donkeys on the Loose.  Picture this, we get off the bus at 6:30 AM, hop in our transport, turn right out of the bus station and find this.  A whole mess of donkeys just running through town.  The best part was the 2 people trying to catch them!  I knew right then that Huaraz was going to be a memorable destination.

 Highlight #3: The Hitch-hiker.  We hired a cab for a 2.5 hour drive up to Lake Llaganuco.  We’re 2 hours into said ride, bumping along what is quite possibly the worst road I’ve ever been on.  We come around a mountain curve (we’re quite high up by this point – maybe 12,000 feet or so) and this lovely Peruvian indigenous woman is standing by the side of the road, waiting to be picked up by someone.  Before I understand what is happening, our cab driver has stopped our car and offered her a ride.  Part of me was like, “Hello, we’re your fare!  Who said you could pick up additional passengers?”  Then another part of me was like, “Oooh, what a fun adventure.  A mountain woman just hopped in our car!”  I decided to keep my mouth shut about the intrusion and just ask for a picture instead.

 Highlight #4: The $2 Hair Cut.  I’ve been hemming and hawing about getting my hair cut in Lima, largely because a.) I have no stylist and b.) the lowest listed price I’ve seen at salons I’ve popped into has been around $30.  No way, Jose.  So I just let it keep growing.  Nick brought up the idea of getting haircuts while in Huaraz.  He ultimately changed his mind (chickened out maybe???) but I embraced this fun new cultural experience.  Here’s the shop I chose:

One teeny tiny problem was that I haven’t learned my hair-cutting vocabulary yet in Spanish.  Was I going to let that stop me?  HECK NO!  Perhaps I mentioned that I am a world class Pantomimer . . . well, I managed to tell her exactly what I wanted (including the fact that I wanted her to thin out the top with a razor and shave the back) all without words.  Yeah, you can be impressed.  I sure was.  Let’s be honest, this could have ended very, very badly.  Thankfully, it didn’t!  Wanna know the grand total for my cut?  5 soles (or $2)! 

 Highlight #5: Fresh Cuy.  What’s cuy, you ask?  Oh, that’s the famous Peruvian delicasy of GUINEA PIG.  EWWWWW.  This was the first time I’ve come face to face with a dead guinea pig.  While I do think it’d be wrong to leave the country without trying it, there was no way my stomach was ready for this yet. . . . 

Highlight #6: The Paparazzi.  You all know I love to capture pictures of our adventures.  I even fancy myself something of an amateur photographer.  Back in the Philippines, they’d fight to be in my pictures and I swear they’d practice their poses at home at night.  Not so in Peru.  They are pretty much on the other end of the spectrum.

If you’d like to photograph someone in traditional Peruvian dress they will typically, 1.) Require you to pay them, 2.) Turn away or wave a finger saying no or (as I found out the hard way) 3.) THROW ROCKS AT  YOU.   Yes folks, I almost got stoned for taking this picture of SHEEP.  Apparently the two boys did not want their animals photographed!  I hope you can now better appreciate the risks I take to get you “the shot”.

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24 Comments

  1. Ann says:

    Sarah, keep these posts coming. I love hearing about your adventures and it inspires me to step out of my comfort zone too

  2. Sarah Novak says:

    Thanks Ann- 9 times out of 10 I’m glad I tried the new thing, even if it was a gamble!

  3. Joyce says:

    Absolutely amazing! I am so glad you had a good trip. Nice to see Nick on a bike again. The scenery is out of this world. Love your haircut. Mom and Dad

  4. Bethany says:

    I totally would not eat the cuy, but Will ate alpaca in Arequipa (which by the way we loved!)

    At the end of our month there we went to Punta Hermosa and stayed in a hotel called El Barco – beautiful pool and hot tub, short walk to sunset on the beach and a very cool lounge like ambiance in the lobby! I think it’s about 1 1/2 hours south of Lima.

  5. Tracy says:

    I’m glad your hair cutting experience turned out well! One of the things I detest about living overseas is finding a “Western” standard salon. I, unfortunately, have had horrific experiences.

    In Honduras I went to the salon AND the stylist to the First Lady (Honduran Lady that is). I left there with orange hair AND eyebrows. Awful.

    In Egypt I wanted a simple cut with some layers. I knew it was going to go badly when to do the layers the man simply grabbed clumps of my hair and attempted to cut in a downward angle with dull scissors. I finally threw in the towel when to straighten my hair he pulled out two burning hot rods that they would grab your hair between in order to hot iron straighten it. Those rods came two inches from my face and I said “no thank you I’m good to to go now!”

  6. Sarah Novak says:

    YIKES. That’s not good at all. I’m pretty sure I got lucky on this one because she definitely wasn’t “Western”. It’s hard to know when to pull the plug if you can tell it’s going awry…

  7. Sarah Novak says:

    Great talking with you! I hope we get the chance to take you there!

  8. Sarah Novak says:

    Awesome, thanks for the hotel tip. We’ll check it out.

  9. Katie says:

    Sarah-

    You probably don’t remember me, but we met at a baby shower for Jennifer Otremba. I love reading your blog because it brings back a bunch of great (and not so great) memories from our year-long stay in the Czech Republic. I completely understand the sense of isolation to which you refer, but I also fondly remember all of our crazy adventures. Continue to enjoy and write!

    Katie

  10. Katrina says:

    You are so adventurous to get a $2 hair cut from someone you couldn’t verbally communicate with. I just spent $185 for a cut/color (including tip) today (don’t tell my hubby!). Also, I LOVE hot dogs and wouldn’t complain at all for the 11:30 snack on the bus =;)

  11. Donna says:

    I’m gonna say no to the roasted guinea pig. Blech.

  12. Chris says:

    So . . . .when I was taking your webinar there was a section on the stats pages that showed who had comented and how many times people had commented. I recall seeing my name and that I had commented the most. Yay for me, but I have fallen down on the job lately, grandson here, golfing, traveling, creating art…trying to figure out how to start my own blog, yada, yada, yada.

    Anyway, your blog is still the best and I aspire to be like you someday, blog wise that is. I think I was a lot like you in other ways when I was in my 30s!

    Great photos and sounds like an amazing adventure. Oh, and love the eight month post of Nia, she just keeps getting cuter and cuter.

    Keep having fun! Xo

  13. sara says:

    Here in Ethiopia if you photograph the donkeys the locals believe that they will die in 3 days. Maybe there is a similar superstition in Peru!

  14. Sadie says:

    I am a loyal blog reader but rarely comment (lazy, I guess!), but I can’t ignore a plea like that :-). Love the photos, however difficult they may have been to obtain. Way to go on the haircut! Very empowering to negotiate something like that in a new place. Sounds like a wonderful adventure all around.

  15. Sarah Novak says:

    Hi Katie- Thanks for being a loyal reader. Are you Jennifer’s sister or am I confusing you with someone else? Overseas adventures are the best!

  16. Sarah Novak says:

    I might just love your comments most of all – and I must say, you’ve been fairly religious about them! Thanks for giving me blog love Katrina. When you come to visit us in Peru, I’ll get you a $2 haircut, okay?

  17. Sarah Novak says:

    I’m still on the fence… I feel like it isn’t right to leave without trying their signature dish. Maybe at a really classy restaurant…

  18. Sarah Novak says:

    You have definitely earned a “Star Commenter Badge”! Of course you can take a break, but please come back soon. I miss your wise insights. :)

  19. Sarah Novak says:

    Huh, I’ve never heard that! I’ll have to ask around a bit and see if sheep are sacred or something. My guess is that they were just being mean though.

  20. Sarah Novak says:

    Thanks Sadie – I appreciate the comment! I just found you on FB, so now we can be friends there as well!

  21. Nick, Husband says:

    I’m commenting!

  22. Sarah Novak says:

    LAME.

  23. Teresa says:

    Haha Nick!
    Love the trip report! Way to go with the haircut! I remember doing the same when we first moved to Germany (at least it was still Western). Took me a bit, but by the end of our time I had figured it out. :-)
    Wow, thanks for risking a lot by taking pictures! I love the people ones!

  24. Sarah Novak says:

    Ha! Who are we kidding, I’d probably risk my life for photos even if no one looked at them! :) And please don’t encourage my husband!

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