Fortunately I felt better on January 24. Nonetheless, I realized that hiking in the sun at 3,000m would not be the smartest thing to do on an empty and still fairly frail stomach, and so Harry and I checked out of Hostal Dulce Amanecer (“sweet dawn” — pictured above) in Huaraz around mid-day.
On our way out of the city we drove past flower vendors…
… and a well-attended youth soccer match.
Although Huaraz itself is not particularly memorable, the city’s location is absolutely gorgeous.
As everywhere else in Peru these days, it was impossible to miss the political campaign posters advertising local as well as national candidates for upcoming elections. I especially loved the one above, for so many reasons: the fact that the main candidate–a woman–stands behind Waldo Rios, another local politician; their use of George W. Bush’s “W” hand sign (“W” is Waldo’s party ballot); their choice of campesino (farmer) symbolism in the background…
Nationally, wall paintings and posters in support of Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of former Peruvian president–and convicted criminal–Alberto Fujimoro, are by far the most frequent. One wonders how the offspring of one of the most blatantly corrupt and brutal Latin American politicians of the last twenty years can command so much popular support. Sure, he is widely credited for defeating the “Shining Path” Communist insurgency and for reestablishing macroeconomic stability, but his crimes against humanity and his attempted escape from Peruvian prosecutors (by way of claiming residence in Japan, inter alia) should normally weigh public opinion against him. I asked a few of Peruvians on the street about this, and it appears that at least at the provincial level Fujimori’s patriarchal politics of pork (i.e., channeling government funds to loyal supporters) still renders tangible advantages for his daughter.
Road conditions were surprisingly good for the first one hundred kilometers, and Harry and I only stopped once for a potty break.
For some reason he felt that some brief howling was in order.
Then the road started to climb again…
… up to what to date has been the highest mountain pass crossed by la bestia: 4,720m!
The mountains showed clear–and beautiful–signs of their genesis.
Road conditions worsened as we crossed villages, and eventually the road was merely a dusty track littered with rocks and potholes.
Reaching Huanuco, our destination for the day, was unrealistic; soon after darkness had fallen, we pulled over — just in time to capture the rise of a full moon.
The next morning (Jan. 25) we woke up at sunrise. The night had been chilly, and we were eager to continue our journey. One of the villagers stopped by to ask if everything was alright, and after a ten-minute conversation I decided to give him the German soccer jersey that I’d been carrying around for months without ever wearing it. He seemed very happy and promised to pass it on to one of his sons.
It turned out that we had wild-camped only a few kilometers away from the Corona del Inca, a massive rock formation resembling a crown.
The drive to Huanuco remained challenging. Occasional road work was limited to filling a few potholes. We reached Huanuco at 10AM, got some groceries, and then…
… came across this public scribe. I did not have the guts to ask him what on earth made him name his office stall after one of the most evil men in human history. Later on, at Hacienda La Florida (see below), I learned that this could in fact be the gentleman’s real last name — but I still feel troubled by this encounter.
Huanuco was hotter and duller than expected, and since it was still morning, we drove on. Fortunately the road south of Huanuco was again paved — that is, until we reached San Pedro, a quaint village southeast of Lake Junin (Chinchayqucha).
I had read several positive reviews of Hacienda La Florida on iOverlander and wanted to check it out, but getting there was a challenge as the road was closed, and all traffic was diverted onto this track. Oncoming traffic meant having to reverse for sometimes five hundred meters to a point where two vehicles could pass each other.
The photo above shows where the dirt path eventually reconnected with the unpaved road to Muruhuay, the town near which La Florida is located.
Live obstacles slowed us down further…
… and so it was already dark when we finally arrived at the hacienda.
All efforts turned out to be worthwhile as Hacienda La Florida is an oasis of tranquility and hospitality. Owned by Peruvian Pepe and his wife Inge from northern Bavaria, it is remarkably well preserved and offers fascinating glimpses into the lives of the landed elite in 19th and early 20th century Peru — well, and Harry loves to play with Ramon and Rolf, the owners’ two bobtails.
Although only 300 kilometers as the crow flies, driving from Huaraz to Muruhuay took two days and added over 550km to la bestia‘s odometer.