Peruvian Adventure 5/18/2006-6/28/2006

Steamboat à Denver à Miami à Lima à Huaraz à Cordillera Blanca à Huaraz àLazy Dog and LlacaàCordillera Huayhuash à Huaraz à Lima à Miami and home

6/20/2006: Sol de Yerupaja in Huayllapa 11,750 ft:




High Point

14,100 ft

16,600 ft


377 ft

18,148 ft


2,666 ft

19,122 ft


Today is our eight consecutive day of trekking.  After two in Cutatambo with the only sounds being water cascading over rock, wind through the grass, the occasion distant roar of an avalanche and our own human voices, we are heading for a village.  We followed the Rio Calinca all the way from Cutatambo to the small village of Huayllapa.  This was not on our trek itinerary, but it turns out that both Zack and Willy have relatives in Huayllapa, so we go.

Leaving Catutambo we passed by Senor Espinoza’s ranch house on our way to Huayllapa


As we descended today we went from the alpine to lush flowed hills with cascading waterfalls.  As we got closer to town the flowered slopes became terraced field which the people from Huayllapa worked during the day growing mainly potatoes. Closer to town the trail became a passage way between old rock walls with mint plants and flowers growing from between the rocks.

Typical scene on our way to Huayllapa with cascading waterfalls and moss and log bridges


The town itself was a little sad.  It had seen growth and improvements during more prosperous times about two decades ago, but once funds had dried up it was obvious that maintenance was not a priority.  Fences sagged and were broken.  Paint peeled from every wall and doorway.  The dirt paths through town were worn and irregular.  The most curious thing were the small doors with large pad locks.  It appeared that Alice in Wonderland had had a large impact on this remote Peruvian village.  Zack later explained through Quique’s interpretation that the people in Huayllapa don’t really live here much.  They get up before it gets light in the morning and head for their fields 3-4 hours away in the mountains, and at the end of the work day they return in the dark to sleep for a few hours before they work again.  Since no one is home they lock their doors to protect their possessions.  

No one home

Small doors and local derelicts


We actually did meet some people in town including some inquisitive adolescent girls, a child wandering the streets and Zack’s aunt who runs the Sol de Yerupaja Inn, the finest (I think the only) lodging in town.  The adolescents were fun and wanted to try their limited on us.  There was a school for 6-11 year olds in town, but if a parent wanted to have their child educated beyond that, they would have to move to Huaraz or Lima many days and worlds away.  Many of the kids already walked 1-2 hours to town to attend this school.  The closest shopping we learned was 4-5 hours away by burro in Cajatambo.

Little girls wandering the street in Huayllapa


The normal cost of a room is 5 soles ($1.50), but as guests of Zack’s his aunt would not take any money.  Our sleeping quarters were in the upstairs dormitory.  Accessing our room required going up some really challenging stairs with the highlight being the third step which was not nailed down and tended to rock and fall out if not treated with the proper amount of respect and finesse.  I took special note of this given that a trip to the bathroom during the night was likely.  

The bathroom was another unique item.  Our first ceramic toilet in nine days.  The special thing about this toilet was that it was outside in a court yard and it was not attached to running water.  The shower was in the same quart yard and did have running water, which really excited Mo until she found out it had one temperature and that was the temperature of melting ice as it ran from the glaciers above town.

Huayllapa town laundry mat


The Sol de Yerupaja was probably the most famous building in town due to the fact that Simpson and Yates had spent the night there during their rescue in 1985 and had again stayed there when they filmed their movie in 2002.  Zack was able to set up his entire kitchen in the 12’X12’ dining area, and given that there were no other patrons we were free to come and go and use the space as we pleased.  The dining area contained a bit of history and some insight in to the lives of the owners.  The walls were blank except for a single shelf.  There was a small statue of Jesus and two painting of the same hanging on the walls.  Two small plaques with Inca designs and the words “Chavin Peru” sat on the shelf.  Chavin is considered the father of modern Peruvian Archeology and discovered and preserved many of the Incan treasures.  There were also three diplomas hanging on the wall which recognized the academic achievements of Amelia Espinoza, the owner of the lodge, aunt of Zack and presumably some relative of Senor Espinoza of Cutatambo.  In a town that offers no education past 6th grade, Amelia had moved away to Huaraz, completed high school and gone on to become a nurse and then moved back to Huayllapa.  The only other “decorations” were a poster of a little chubby blonde Shirley Temple with two small dogs and a poster of a bikini clad model advertising cigarettes, even though they sold no cigarettes in town and no one that we have seen in town or on the trail smoked.

Had our dinner in the dining area of the Sol de Yerupaja.  After dinner Zack invited a musician friend of his over to play the harp and sing.  Eloe Zeloda arrived with his very old and crude harp and set up in our small dining area.  Much effort was spent tuning the instrument, but once he began to play it was a magical experience.  He sang tradition Quequa hill music and sang in this high pitched mournful lilting voice.  The rhythms seems complex and constantly in danger of crashing down in a jumble of notes, but just when you thought things would fail the beat came together and another hypnotic verse started up.  No matter that we didn’t understand a word of the lyrics, it was still beautiful.  

Zack and our musician, Eloe Zeloda, making a magical evening at the Sol de Yerupaja


Tomorrow is a long hard day so sleep is in order.  I will carefully ascend the stairs and hope that I have induced an adequate level of dehydration to prevent a night time trip to the bathroom.



Peru Adventure Part Two Chapter XVII

Journal Index