Riding back and forth through Huascarán National Park was an absolute highlight! The scenery was amazing and the riding itself a lot of fun. From Yungay, we went straight up to the Llanganuco Lakes on our way over to San Luis.
(San Luis, where we stayed. We got there for a fiesta, which translates to drunk men talking to us while literally drooling in our soup. Really drunk men. Lots of drool. Not much more soup eating after that. Fiesta!)
(this young man was proud to pull his weight, even if it was taller than him)
The next day we visited Chavín de Huántar, a pre-Incan spiritual site, occupied from ca. 1200-200 BC (with some evidence of occupation as early as 3000 BC!). The temples were built in phases throughout that period. Later on in that time, the Mosna river was actually diverted in order to create the main plaza. This location was obviously very important to the Chavín culture. The temples and pyramids have a complex network of tunnels, water channels, acoustic openings, and passageways that are still being investigated today. Exploring some of those tunnels was quite an experience.
(Jill walking into the plaza at Chavín de Huántar)
(the Lanzón is considered to be the supreme deity of the Chavín culture. this lance-shaped monolith is the only carving from its era to remain standing in its original location. (Mike felt drawn to this place and this carving in particular, so he decided to make a souvenir out of it. More on that soon...))
(exploring the tunnels)
(a Lanzón look alike)
(the town Chavín de Huántar was a nice small town that has a nice museum with free admission)
Leaving Chavín de Huántar took us back across Huascarán NP towards Catac, once again through stunning scenery.
(high plains near Catac)
From Catac, we turned back east again to head past Pastoruri towards Huallanta and La Unión.
(the road towards Pastoruri)
(the official greeter at the park entrance. This was the second time we had to pay the 5 soles each fee (1st time was up to Llangonuco).)
(we picked up a sheepskin near San Luis, washed it for a couple of hours in Chavín de Huántar, and continued drying it on the back of the bike. The lady offered it to us for 5 soles, but Jill is a sucker (with a big heart) and gave her 20 for it (she did have a lot of kids, and 20 soles still ain't that much). We provided some entertainment, and maybe earned some respect, for the hostel owners in Chavín de Huántar when we washed it and didn't know the drying process. They helped us nail it to their adobe wall to allow it to dry for a full day (less than the prescribed 3) before strapping it to the TA as shown here)
(all of Peru is an archeological site)
(the TA at 4900 meters (= 16000 ft))
(back to highway, but still beautiful)
The ride to La Oroya was cold. Once again we found ourselves in a sleet storm above 4000 m while passing near/through Junín. And then arriving into La Oroya was not a very sweet way to finish the day. that town is a shithole. It's a mining/metallurgical capital of Peru, and has the feel that you would expect to go along with it. Hostels that were reasonable were sketchy at best, parking non existant. Near the hospital there were nice hostels (but nothing fancy) with parking that cost 70 soles and up. So we kept going. At one hostel that had a garage we found a room for a reasonable rate, 30 soles. Instead of staying in the hostel, though, the guy led us next door to this fine establishment:
The room was fair, sheets seemed clean, and bathroom was as good as any. So we stayed. To top it all off, the small door is all you got to enter through, and it remained locked even while we were inside. There was a buzzer to ring to get the employees over to let us out. Classy.
(bus shelter outside of La Oroya shows what the area is proud of. We saw lots of pro-mining graffiti in this town which was quite a contrast to what we had seen further north)
After the beautiful days of riding around Huascarán, followed by a cold and crappy arrival into La Oroya, it was time to get to Lima for some errands.