I had plans to get to Yungay to see the buried city but as my morning got started I realized that it might have to wait until afternoon or the next day. Anita and Teo, the owners of the hostel, had invited a select group of us to lunch to eat an Andean specialty, roasted “cuy” or guinea pig at one pm, so I didn’t think I could make it on time. Also, I was trying to get in touch with Federico and Cristina who had emailed me the previous day to say that they were in Huaraz
and wanted to get together. By the time I got out and underway I knew I couldn’t make it so I just meandered around town, buying some minor things I needed and taking pictures and seeing some different sites.
I stopped in at the archeological museum of the province of Ancash but there wasn’t very much to see and I was in and out in the space of a half hour. I joined up with the small group going out to lunch and we piled into Teo’s van to get to the restaurant. Earlier I had discovered that Coqui, the guy who is a cousin of the owners and who organizes the tours and outings, is studying hotel management in Rome and a friend of his from town who is in the program too was along with us, so of course we began speaking in Italian which was really nice.
We drove a bit out of town and off the main road to end up at place that only the locals could know about, and at 1 pm it was very busy, even as large as it was. All of us ordered the cuy and it was really delicious.
Heads of ?
I would say it tastes like chicken but a bit wilder and with not as much meat or fat. The skin was super crispy and was the delicacy of the dish. A small band was playing local music and Teo was calling out requests which they obligingly played. We all toasted with our beers and talked and laughed and Teo and Anita said that they loved taking their favorite guests out on outings like that. I felt privileged to have been invited. We had a wonderful time.
I had Teo drop me off on the main road and I caught a collectivo for Yungay, some 20 to 30 miles up the road. There is the new Yungay and the old town that was completely buried in the avalanche of May 31, 1970, which was my destination. When I arrived I first walked up to the cemetery to see the large Christ statue.
The indoor market
I was surprised to see graves more recent than 1970, which means that it is still in use for the new Yungay and maybe other close towns. Off closer to Mt. Huascaran, the mountain that lost a chunk of its face in the earthquake that in turn buried Yungay, I could see the 4 palm trees that survived the earthquake and a replica? Of the church façade. The details were very stark. On the afternoon of May 31, 1970, at 3:24 in the afternoon, a very powerful earthquake rocked the valley and dislodged a massive piece of mountain, which came crashing down on Yungay at the speed of faster than 3,000 miles an hour. Three minutes later, at 3:27, all that remained of Yungay were the 4 palm trees and the tops of some wreckage from the higher buildings.
Chickens all lined up
About 25,000 people were buried under the mass of stones and mud and ice. How ironic that some children that were playing in the cemetery on the hill were saved. The city of the living became a city of the dead in the space of 3 minutes, and the city of the dead saved a few of the living! In the aftermath, more than 70,000 died in the valley from the earthquake and some half a million were missing, thus making it probably the deadliest natural disaster in the history of the Western Hemisphere.
I got a cramped ride back to Huaraz and then went out to meet Sadhbh and Zoe and a Peruvian guide that she had met in the Tambo club that was sweet on her. I also walked with Tanja and Armin who were leaving for Lima that night on a bus.
We all settled on Chilli Heaven but when we arrived the server was totally in the weeds with no one helping her. She asked that we write down our order so I pitched in and looked around for something to do to help out. I got some silverware and napkins for a table and took our order and opened a bottle of Argentinean red for ourselves. The waitress was so frazzled I felt sorry for her and I went into the kitchen to offer my services, but then the owner walked in and soon they had things under control. I was smitten by the waitress so I waited until things slowed down to talk to her. It turned out the she’s the owner’s daughter. Beatriz, the owner, and Melody, her pretty daughter, told me to come back Saturday evening and see of they needed help, and if so, then they would buy me a dinner at their place. That was easy enough for me to agree on since I couldn’t take my eyes off Melody.
So, it was another night at Tambo club biut this time the girls didn’t stay as long. Sadhbh looked like she was getting sick again and for me the smoke and same music and everything got boring, so we left early.