Peru Travel Journal Day 5 – Wilcahuain Ruins, Ancash, Peru
Woke up and enjoyed plenty of coffee, coca leaf tea and a mountain of fruit surrounded by the Andes mountains. This is our last full day here, so we have to make it count! I’m going to miss waking up in this place (both in Huaraz and Olaza’s Guest House), but it’s not over yet, and it’s not like we’re going home right away either. Lima is still waiting to be explored!
After breakfast we went to the market to stock up on some food for a day trip to the Wilcahuain ruins just outside of town. We wandered and explored the Mercado Central again and found out there is always something new to discover!
Today we checked out the upstairs section of the market. We didn’t even realize it existed the first few visits, but now we’re glad we found it. Upstairs has booths with cooked food, rather than just raw ingredients to purchase. We walked around getting a feel for the place and decided on soup from one of the unmarked vendors. We went to the one with all the locals eating at it- it was the only busy one at the time, so it made the decision easy. The choice of soups were meat or fish, no other description. I pointed to my neighbour and said “I’ll have what he’s having”. I think it was guinea pig entrails, yum! We were down with a little mystery and we gobbled up the whatever it was soup!
Before eating, just outside Marcado Central, on a side street, in a tiny little hole in a wall of a space, I was fitted for an Andean farmer sombrero. Since he has to make it for me, I have to go back and pick it up at 1:00pm. So, that brings us back to the rooftop to enjoy some Pisco before we head out on our afternoon trek, while I wait for my hat to be made. As soon as one o’clock hits, the plan is to pick it up and keep on heading towards the collectivo stop for the ruins.
Always an interesting place to be, here in Huaraz. While we walked back to our room we passed by a plaza with bands playing, coolers of beer being shared and locals dancing. We stopped and enjoyed the bands for a bit before continuing on. Everyone seemed to be having a great time and it was a friendly and festive vibe. As we began to walk away, they started lighting off very loud fireworks. Mystery solved on where all the late night and all day partying is coming from.
What an adventure! We are just getting back from our hike and it’s after dark now. Initially, we were going to take the collectivo back to town because it was supposed to rain, but we ended up walking the trail into town anyways as the sun came out. We probably shouldn’t have walked the WHOLE way back though and regretting not getting a taxi once we hit the city’s edge. The walk to the city centre was a much longer walk than we estimated and we had already seen plenty of the city on our previous days. It’s too late to go to the artisan craft market now, that was the only other thing we had planned other than attempting to take it easy and rest for once. I think I will get back to writing about the walk a little later after I’m done packing for the bus ride out of here in the morning…
I’m done packing and I am now getting ready to settle into bed for the night. So, I guess that makes it story time now. First off, I can’t think of a better way to break in a new adventuring hat than by exploring ancient ruins. Wilcahuain is separated into two sites, they are not too far away from each other, but there is still a little bit of walking involved.
We got dropped off by the collectivo, which was a fun ride in itself to see the dusty country roads and ride with the locals. It was a bit of tight squeeze, but not a long ride. We kept picking up more people as we went. Things like large bushels of flowers got thrown on top of the van, nods were given and we’d keep moving. They dropped us off and there was a good laugh by everyone as we almost missed our stop. I think in the tone of: “Of course those guys are getting out at the tourist destination, of course we stop here for them.”
We entered Wilcahuain and wandered the small grounds, climbed the stairs and explored inside the rooms. For the most part, the insides are just barren, empty, dark rooms made of stone, but getting to enter them is pretty darn cool! Then we took a short trek a little more up the hill to the second location. Pretty much the same deal, but a little bigger than the last. Spooky fact: the ruins were once home to a death worshiping civilization.
We then took the hike back to Huaraz, which involves following alongside the river stream until we were back in town. It was a wonderful stroll through the Andean countryside, while we were hopping rocks along the stream and getting to see cows, shaggy pigs, sheep and rustic cabins, all surrounded by scenic greenery and picturesque mountain views. Everything in Peru has been so amazing and this was yet another one of the best things!
Things weren’t all sunshine and rainbows on the walk back, although we did see those too. In the past there have been armed robberies on the trails heading back to town, so we had to keep our guard up as we trekked back to Huaraz. However, the people we did see were all friendly, saying hello and pointing us in the right direction. There were some teenagers that gave us a “ppft” look as they walked past us, and we have noticed even back in town that the teenage boys will look us up and down, like at our wrists and faces, checking to see if we are wearing valuables, I assume. Nothing to worry about for us though since we don’t have anything, but still a good idea to keep our guard up and respect the warnings.
Also, the dogs. As we started getting closer to the city, the dogs that roam everywhere began to get a bit aggressive. Or at least for one stretch they did. Usually the dogs have been nothing but friendly, unobtrusive and perhaps just a bit curious as they would follow along behind us, keeping a safe distance until they got bored and walked away. Basically if we leave them alone, they leave us alone. I think the issue here is, the dogs are just doing there job. So when we stop to admire the scenery, the houses, or want to see the piglets and little sheep stumble around by the roadside, the dogs don’t like that and want us to keep it moving and out of their homes. Also, probably didn’t help that the kids came out of the houses to tell the dogs to “sick ’em!”, as we passed.
To be safe, we found fist sized rocks to carry and wave over our heads if the dogs would get too close for comfort and we made sure to pass through their territory as quickly and as non-threateningly as we could. Luckily, none of the stones had to leave our hands and once we were back in the city, the dogs stopped caring about us again.
Taken from my travel notes. Originally written on November 4, 2017.