Our third day got going more quickly and we were itching to walk. It would be a shorter day than the first two and included a sidetrack up to a vantage point where we could see many of the snow-capped peaks that surrounded us. After two days of walking our pace was quicker and we were less winded as we gradually went uphill to the lookout called “Mirador”. The views were splendid and the one peak I had really wanted to see was to the West, called Mt. Alpamayu. This peak is reputed to be the most beautiful in the world, but as I looked at it I failed to see why that was so. Yes, it was a pretty mountain but I couldn’t imagine that it was the most beautiful. Oliver cleared it up for us. We were looking at the eastern face and it is the western face that presents the most beautiful view.
I felt a little cheated. I mean, it’s like meeting the most beautiful woman in the world, but seeing her after 3 days on the trail. She’s not going to look so good! The others had a good laugh at that. We leisurely made our way back down to the valley and began our walk south. This day was characterized by almost no ascents, being essentially a walk in the broad, flat valley, punctuated by a pretty laguna, some dazzling waterfalls and cold, crystal-clear streams. The laguna was particularly picturesque with it’s pretty blue-green water and grazing horses and cows at its shores. The cows and horses are patrimony of the national park. I walked with Zoe and Sadhbh for most of the way and quite early in the afternoon, about 2:30, we arrived at the camp.
Oliver had told us that there were a couple families that live at the site and that there was a small stand that sold beer and snacks and such, and that had a wind electrical generator and tv and dvd player. Welcome back to civilization! But in the end it turned out to be two very poor families with their gaggle of kids in filthy clothes and a couple stone huts. At arrival, the majority of us wanted to push on and finish the trek that night, but Oliver stopped us. It was only a few more hours to Cachapampa and we were not ready to stop. Oliver assured us that it would be much better if we waited and finished the next morning.
There was little to do and the afternoon air was chilling as clouds gathered and winds blew.
It seemed a storm might be coming. Some of us shared some beer and had a snack and some of the “pachamanca” that was left over from the families lunch. Pachamanca is a hole dug in the earth (pacha in Quechua language) and linded with hot stones and coals, then heaped with potatoes and other tubers and pieces of meat and covered with earth. After a while it’s excavated and the whole thing is put in a bowl and shared. It’s a common Andean meal. After this we retired to our tents to listen to music or read safe from the elements. I got back up and joined some of the guides who were chatting and watching the skies. In time the rain/hail started but it was light and quick and then stopped as the dark clouds passed by.
Oliver and Antonio both predicted excellent weather for the next days. On of the local men got his fishing net and went out to the river to catch some little trout for dinner. Little Manuel got a line and lure and went off with Armin to fish some trout as well.
Oliver didn’t start cooking dinner until almost 6 pm and I was starving and getting cold. He made us some popcorn and then began cooking but it wasn’t until almost 9 pm that we finally got to eat. The soup was lukewarm with mushy pasta and then the main course was also lukewarm with rice, instant potatoes, a onion and tomato sauce with canned tuna and the fried trout that Manuel had caught. I had passed beyond hungry and was just tired and frustrated that we wasted the whole afternoon and sat in the tent for almost 3 hours as it got cold and we got hungrier and hungrier.
Antonio, Oliver & Manuel
After dinner another guide came by and asked if he could play my violin. He played some Andean tunes and then asked if he could play for his group in his dining tent. I asked Oliver why the Andean music had so few tunes and why so much of it sounded the same, and why it was so mournful. He told me that it expresses the anguish and sadness of the mountain people and that the minor tones express that. Most songs are in minor thirds and are so sad, and repetitive. He said that the music is changing though, and there is more happy music being made, and that younger people are going more to the clubs to dance to the happy Caribbean music and Peruvian cumbias and reggaetons. They don’t want to be sad about their plight.
I played a few tunes for the guide and he loved it as did Manuel. We then went immediately to bed.