Friday, January 8

Goodbye to Huaraz: Llanganuco Lakes

Our last day in Huaraz, we traveled to the frigid Llanganuco lakes positioned above Yungay on the north face of el Huascarán (the highest mountain in Peru).

Most tourists go on a guided tour, but we decided to take a different route. We grabbed a combi (van) to Yungay, then contracted a taxi driver, who, for about 13 bucks, took us the 1 1/2 hours up the steep mountain roads to the lakes. 

Beyond the enchanting scenery, the most interesting part of our trip was Dionicio, our taxi driver. 22 years old, Dionicio lives in the small village on the ridge just below the lakes. 

He showed us his home, and his dad outside--a small adobe place surrounded by animals. Electricity just recently arrived to their pueblo in 2002. Most of the community does subsistence farming and maybe a small business. 

After showing us the lakes, a sight to see, Sergio asked Dionicio if he knew of a good place to eat trucha (trout), and it turned out that his cousin Aire, recently opened up a roadside restaurant near the pueblo. 

Aire, shown below, immediately welcomed us into their small picnic table and kitchen. She chatted with us about life in her town. While they often went to Yungay (45 min down the mountain), Aire had never been to Huaraz (two hours away).

Quechua is her language, but through broken Spanish (on her part and mine), we shared in conversation. This was my first time being somewhere in Peru where Spanish was the (far) second language. 

Sergio ate what he claimed was the best trucha of his life. We thanked Aire and her family and headed back down the road. 

Before Dionicio left us, he asked Sergio for his number just in case he decided to take the job he offered him in the bakery as a driver. 

You see, on the days Dionicio does manage to get a customer, he takes home only $5 of his $13 fare after paying gas and the car's rental. At the bakery, Sergio said, Dionicio would have a room, board and $10/day to keep (double what he makes taxiing).  Even though Arequipa is 26 hours in bus from Yungay and he had no family there, it seemed Dionicio was going to give the offer some serious thought. 

Maybe we'll see him again someday, but if not, I was thankful he wanted to share a piece of his life with us on our last day in Huaraz.

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