Lima is the starting point to the Cordillera Blanca. During the winter (our summer) the city is wrapped in fog most of the time (like Aargau). At eight in the morning only the drugstores and casinos with slot machines are opened. Fresh orange juice is served at every corner and the snack advocado-salt-bread turns out to be as addictive as paprika crisps. Marius meets me in the evening and we eat the typical “ceviche” that is a crude fish salad with some famous “pisco sour” that tastes very much like caipirinha (but maybe I’m wrong and no this blog is not only about food:-)
The next day we take a coach to Huaraz. It’s 200 km bird’s eye, 400 km by road, 8 eight hours or 3 hollywood movies in a row. The coast north of Lima is at times a steep sand hillslope dropping into the ocean with the road perched at mid-height. The road then leaves the coast and follows a valley up to the Conochocha pass at 4050 m. Every village dries its corn on the ground making it an orange-yellow paved square. From the pass reachnig out to grassy highlands you spot the first high, white peaks of the Cordillera Blanca.
In Huaraz, we meet Andy, the “contact” of Marius, biking/trekking guide and mountaineer, who briefes us about the city, accomodation, acclimation, transport, … He gives us a hint about Chancos, a small village with a climbing crag and thermal baths which we visit the next day. “Collectivos” are a cheaper alternative to taxis and as efficient if you are lucky. They are small buses or cars serving a particular route and leaving once they are full. To Chancos we took two “collectivos” and discovered the modest but steep but easy crag with eight less than ten meters high routes of a very sculpted kind of limestone. After experiencing every route and being only watched by some cows we headed to the village. The air was warm and we had no envy to dive into hot water but instead we stopped at the swimming pool at the entrance of the village, full of happy and playing and relaxing people.