Back In Huaraz July 11th to July 13th
Brian and I walked up to the road leading out of the Llaganuco valley around 9:45 Tuesday morning.  We passed by the donkeys and the little hut which sold drinks, over the bridge, and finally up to the meeting point where buses and cabs dropped off climbers and trekkers.  I had come to this beautiful valley full of trepidation due to my sickness but after spending a week here was sorry to have this place be relegated to memory.   We spent a few minutes looking back over the valley until our crazy driver came (on time, as always, I'll give him that).

Llaganuco Valley, For The Last Time

As usual, the drive was terrifying.  Our driver would fly around corners on dirt roads with trucks, buses, people, livestock, dogs, etc around every corner. He would rely on a few honks of the horn to warn anyone he was coming.  At the exit gate to the part he slammed his breaks and skidded under the gate, coming to a stop with the cross bar less than an inch from our window.  At one point on the way down Marco screamed 'Slow Down', everyone laughed, and he kept flying.  I tried to focus on Huscaran and the beauty of the area but something about going 120 KPH through towns with posted limits of 35 KPH and passing cars on blind corners kept me a bit edgy.  After we almost ran face first into an oncoming semi on an area marked 'Dangerous' I did the only rational thing I could and went to sleep.  I think it was sort of like the expectant death sleep everyone undergoes right before a plane takes off.  When I awoke we were once again safe and back in Huaraz.

Leaving The Llaganuco Valley

Brian and I bid our farewells to Marco and Jaime and Brian gave Marco a decent headlamp to replace his poor one.  After dropping the guys off at Mont Climb we headed back to Cafe Andino where Chris had already booked a room at his Mother In Law's place.  We were a bit dissapointed as we really liked the other place but were to tired to really care.  

The one huge perk was that this place had hot water so we both took long showers and cleaned the accumulated stink of many days off.  After this we packed up and set out to make a few calls, go shopping, call our respective loved ones, and have dinner.  At the place I had picked up Alpaca sweaters early in the trip I noticed a cute little silver statue of an Alpaca carrying a bunch of turquoise rocks.  It was listed at 170 soles.  I kept going back until I eventually got it for 130 soles the next day.  

On Tuesday night we went to Patrick Creperies for dinner and I ordered Cuy, a local dish of some fame.  Cuy is essentially just Guinea Pig and is generally served as a whole, deep fried animal.  I figured I might not be able to eat it but at last I would get a good picture.  Unfortunately for my viewing audience the meal consisted of the thighs only and they weren't discernible as being from a guinea pig. Cuy tasted like chicken.  Brian also decided to pick up another bottle of Coca liquor as it is (obviously) not available in the states. After dinner we stopped by Monte Rosa where I got to met Enrique's wife.  We all chatted for a while and I discovered she raised bees for honey.  This made for the perfect final gift for Jen's parents as her father loves honey.  I picked him up a jar of Eucalyptus honey and Brian and I headed off to sleep.

Last Time at Patricks

In the morning Chris had his assistant get us to Hotel Colomba. We had decided to splurge for our last night in Huaraz and stay at a posh place.  This hotel had beautiful gardens, nice rooms, and the owners rehabilitated wild birds.  One such bird they had was a beautiful Harpy Eagle.  This creature has a permanently broken wing so can not be released,  If anyone reading this knows of a zoo that might place this creature they are looking for a home for it.

Cool Bird

Our room came equipped with a bathtub (with jets), a television, and two nice beds. We aquainted ourselves with the hotel policies and then I lay around watching tv while Brian read and wrote in his journal before we stepped out for lunch.

It's Important To Read The Rules When in a 3rd World Hotel

 Lunch consisted of about 6 courses for 1.25$ US per person.  Of course to much of it (jello, juice, etc) might have used the water so I only ate about half of it.  From lunch it was back to Colomba to check the (free) Internet, relax a bit more, and then head to town for a good Thai dinner.

When dinner was over we headed over to Cafe Andino and settled up with Chris.  We dropped Marco a 100 sole tip and let Chris know we were quite displeased with Jaimes performance.  Since you have to pay for all the days you book a guide regardless of whether you use one or not we figured a free day of pay would be the only tip Jaime needed.  When you couple laziness with getting lost, generally apathy, using the porter to do all your route-finding and not having adequate protection for roped climbing you have a guide that needs to spend less time picking up American work ethics.  Oh well, live and learn, no more guides for me, ever.  I'll just retain a porter who knows how to get to the glaciers edge on the next trip.  

After meeting with Chris I went to call Jen and let her know all was well and then headed back to Monte Rosa to bid our farewells and, as usually happened, ended up staying longer than intended.  This time Enrique took Brian and I around to the back of the store and showed us a huge collection of antiques he had.  The man is really quite a collector.  He had everything from old swords and guns to a working Victrola.  He gave both Brian and myself keepsakes in the form of sharks teeth, stones, and feathers.  After a few more drinks we exchanged emails and said goodbye.  It was interesting to have had as many conversations with Enrique as I did considering my poor Spanish.

After Monte Rosa we headed back to the hotel where we both passed out.  When I awoke in the morning I found that the extremely comfy, down pillow had given me cramps throughout my back and neck.  This necessitated several Advil and a long bath but was fortunately painful enough that it took my mind off of my rib (which I now was beginning to suspect was not broken).  After Brian woke up we went to the dining room at the hotel and had breakfast.

Breakfast At Hotel Colomba

Once breakfast was over we had a cab drop us off at the bus terminal, checked our bags and headed back into the city (where a strike of elementary school teachers was underway). We did a bit of final shopping for t-shirts and drinks and then returned to the station where we waited to board the bus.

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