Around Huaraz  July 1st - July 3rd
After getting off of the bus  (around 5:00 in the afternoon) Chris helped us carry our bags to our hotel room.  Originally we were going to be staying at a place owned by Chris's mother in-law but a group of South Carolinians had rented all the available rooms.  Instead of the original hotel which was connected to Cafe Andino (Chris's restaurant) we were forced a full four doors away, to the Hostel Paris.  This place was a serious step up from Hotel Espana and featured twin beds, occasional hot water, toilet paper, and a tv which picked up CNN in English.  We were quite comfortable all the nights we spent there and the only real complaint I had was that a rooster felt the need to start yelling somewhere around 4:00 in the morning, every morning, and would keep it up until 9:00 in the morning.

After Chris had shown us to our room and arranged the days would would be staying there with the owner he told us to swing by his cafe later but to relax for the time being.  I felt fairly secure in the hostel as the front doors were iron and protected by a  huge deadbolt, even our room had a large deadbolt.  During our time there the people were the soul of courtesy and would ask how we were, where we were going, etc.  They would also wait until we were out on the town before cleaning our rooms.  We trusted them enough to leave allot of extraneous gear and gifts with them when we headed to Vallunaraju a couple days later.

Our Room At Hostel Paris

After spending a bit of time unpacking and relaxing we decided to head over to Cafe Andino where we met with Chris and went over the details of our trip. Our initial plan had been to use a porter only in going to Chopicalqui but given Brian's broken foot we figured it might be worth the extra 25/day to hire a porter for the entire time we were up in Llaganuco Valley.  After we settled most of the details we agreed to pay Chris about 90 percent of what the trip was going to cost, the next morning, so he could dole it out to drivers, hotels, guides, etc.  He told us just to settle up the final amount with him the night before we left.  We also requested an upgraded return bus ride and he agreed to procure first class tickets on Movil Tours for us.  We asked Chris what a good restaurant was and he recommended Creperie Patricks (so do I, we ate there around four times).  

Coffee At Cafe Andino

After leaving the Cafe Brian and I wandered around Huaraz a little bit to get the flavor of the place, we also stopped by a local money changer to convert our dollars to soles.  From here we went to Patricks and had dinner.  I had Alpaca ( sort of like a llama) and we both drank the local national beverage, Pisco Sours.  After hanging out at Patricks I tracked down a phone calling place and called Jen after which we retired to our room and went to bed.

The next morning I was awoken by a rooster and Brian was awoken by me.  We both  took quick showers and did a bar of soap and sink wash of some clothes which we hung out on the roof of the hotel.

The Roof Of Our Hotel

Our day was pretty busy but we figured we should start it off with some good coffee at Cafe Andino.  When we were there we ran into a couple Canadian climbers who were finishing up a multiple month visit.  We spent awhile chatting with them, paid Chris the money we had agreed on and then set out for lunch (we took our time getting up and left the cafe around 11:00).  We found a nice quiet little place for lunch but I was somewhat unsettled as I began to have diarrhea at this point.  I figured I try to ignore it and hope for the best.

Pretty Roses

View In Huaraz

After lunch we went around buying up gifts for loved ones.  Brian seemed to get a kick out of bartering so I let him do all of it.  I ended up picking up a little wooden mask and baby Alpaca sweater for myself.  Since Jen had been pretty laid back about the  whole trip I figured I should buy her more gifts than I did myself so I proceeded to get her an alpaca sweater, hat, gloves, scarf, two pairs of socks, and a few other trinkets.  I also picked up a scarf, pencil (her father collects them), and alpaca blanket as gifts for Jen's parents.  After buying the gifts we wandered through the town enjoying the views of the Cordillera Blanca off in the distance.  

Market In Huaraz

We dropped the gifts back at the hostel and wandered around through the locale's market.  While we had bought our gifts in the tourist market I thought it might be interesting to see where the residents shop. The market consisted of densely packed stands with everything from sneakers to chickens, to coca leaves.  There wasn't much we wanted but it was an interesting experience to see.  I was pretty sure we needed to keep our hands over our pockets and my hand on the camera at all time as theft would be an issue but I didn't feel threatened otherwise.

Allot Of Chickens And Ducks

When we had our fill of the local shops we went to a supermarket to do our food shopping for the whole trip.  Our meals were basically- Tea and oatmeal for breakfast, Nutella sandwiches and salami for lunch, and a bag of past with seasoning and two cans of tuna for dinner.  We brought along a ton of nuts for snacks as well as some chocolate which later we found out was absolutely horrid and only suited for mixture with milk or water to make cocoa. One thing which was to become a staple of my diet was the coca tea.  As I became progressively more ill I would drink more and more of it.  On the day before Pisco I ended up drinking about nine liters of the stuff, I highly recommend it, there were no noticeable affects to your mood but it does seem to help with the acclimatization.  After our shopping trip we headed back to the hostel where we separated the food out aching into account the number of people we would be feeding each day.  We put the food we needed for Vallunaraju in bags and then split the remainder up into food we would bring to Pisco and food our guide, Jaime (pronounced (Hy-meh) would bring in when he met us for Chopicalqui.

More Miscellaneous Huaraz

Once our errands were done we headed over to grab a stove and fuel from Chris, brought it back to the roof of our hotel and tested that it worked.  We then hung out for a bit drinking beer and watching the city from the hostel's roof.  Somewhere around 7:30 we decided to go back to Patricks for dinner.  When dinner was over I called Jen up and we headed back towards our hostel.  

Preparing Our Food For The Rest Of The Trip

For some reason Brian and I decided to sit on a street corner, drink a couple of beers, and watch people.  A few minutes into this some random Peruvian guy wandered over and told us it was dangerous to be sitting where we were and that a friend of his had been stabbed recently.  He then told us we needed to come to his night club.  I'm not sure if it was a con but he seemed friendly and had the cover charges waived so we headed to the club.  

This turned out to be amusing if nothing else.  We spent a few hours hanging out and talking with people (yes, I picked up enough Spanish to sort of communicate). We also bumped into our guide who was to be taking us to Vallunaraju for glacier skills practice the next day.  As it turned out he had gotten jumped by three drunk guys a couple hours before and while he had held his own had taken a few good ones to the face.  After a short time he headed home.  

We stayed until I grew increasingly frustrated with a drunken guy who kept bumping into me and everyone else.  I'd push him off in one direction where he would stumble into someone else before wandering back and asking me to buy him a drink.  He was harmless but I am an irritable person and wanted to hit him badly enough that I had to leave before getting myself in trouble in a foreign country.  Each time he wandered by I kept getting angrier, figuring this was heading nowhere good I told Brian it was time to go.  

Outside of the club I stopped for a burger (or at least the paper thin mystery meat they market as burgers).  At the stand some other Peruvian guy spent a great deal of time telling us how much he loved Americans and that we were brothers, he kept shaking our hands and hugging us so, at the first opportunity, we took off back to our hostel.  It is amazing, thousands of miles away from home and in a totally foreign country and you still get the irritating stumbly drunks and I love you drunks.  I'm glad we missed out on the beer muscle type drunks since they were the ones Jaime had run into trouble with.  Since it was about 1:00 in the morning and we had a 9:00 AM meeting with Jaime and the cab driver we felt it was prudent to go to bed at this point.  I'd generally not suggest trying to acclimatize to altitude by staying at a night club right before attmemtpting to get to 17,000 feet.

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