Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Vomitorium a.k.a. Pasto Ruri

First of all, I would like to tell you that, yes, the title is "The Vomitorium." Jeff came up with it after I told him the story below. Those of you with weak stomachs may want to skip down to my other post from today. Actually, if you read them in order, it would probably be better in general.

So, this gets to the other bit of craziness of the weekend. I had been intensely searching out interviews, when I found out that Pasto Ruri (or Pastoruri) has been re-opened. Yay!! This is great news for me, because I want to get people's opinions about glaciers, so going with them to see glaciers is the perfect opportunity, right? Yeah.... sure.

On the way up, everyone I asked said that I should ask them after they saw the glacier. That way, they could give me better opinions. That made sense to me, so I just concentrated on not getting bus sick and trying to make friends with these people so that they would feel more comfortable with me later. Not sure it worked. So, we made several random stops to go potty, see water bubbling in the plains, take pictures with llamas in sunglasses, and take pictures of this crazy native plant that is about 12 meters high and has a 100 year life cycle. It was strange, but cool. The guide talked quite a bit about the importance of all of these things, so I guess I got to learn something.

Anyways, we finally made it up to Pasto Ruri, and we had a bit of a hike to the top. It was like 2-3 kilometers up, but parts were pretty steep. Anyways, it meant that EVERYONE was really, really cranky on the way up and once I was there. I actually filmed a mini-riot when someone tried to cut in front of this line to get pictures in the big ice cave. I went and got my picture in the little ice cave instead because those people were crazy!!! OK, not EVERYONE was mean at the top. People my age were pretty nice, so they are the ones who took all of the pictures of me. However, anyone over thirty was such a jerk. Plus, no one, not even the nice people would let me interview them. No one felt like they had enough time with the hike up and down to waste any of it with the stupid gringa. I guess I understand. They altitude was pretty rough on the people from Lima.

Look out, the really grody part is coming soon! I felt fine up and down the glacier. I actually felt much better running around outside than I did on the bus beforehand. I got kind of giddy, probably a little from the lack of oxygen, so I made some funny videos up at the glacier. However, I probably won't post them because important people read this blog now!! :) I did post a couple of them at the bottom, though. They're not particularly amusing now, but they saved me as everyone kept denying my desire for interviews. Instead of being mad or hurt, I just laughed and took pictures and videos of myself. I was feeling great. The other people at Pasto Ruri, and on my bus, were not so lucky.

**Vomit alert! Vomit alert!** Everyone threw up at the top of the glacier, on the way down from the glacier, by the bus station, by the food stands, by their cars, on their cars.... EVERYWHERE!!! I may have just missed it on the way up, and I only noticed someone throwing up right as I started going down from the top. However, after I saw that first person, I kept seeing vomit. Vomit was everywhere!!! People would just turn a little as they were walking down and then they'd hurl. Projectile vomiting, exorcist style, too. So, it was like playing a very disgusting video game on the walk down. Like Frogger, except it was me trying to get down the road without getting hit by the vomit. All right, it wasn't quite THAT bad, but there was a lot of vomiting going on. Plus, I think some of it was a chain reaction. If you feel sick and then see someone else throwing up, you have no choice anymore. It certainly became a chain reaction later....

So, I was wondering if some sort of food poisoning was going on and decided that I didn't want to eat any of the food from the vendors. However, one lady had popcorn, so I got a little bag of that. I've never heard of popcorn causing a vomiting epidemic before, so I thought I would be safe. However, the vomiting did not end when the trail ended. I caught a whole group throwing up outside the food stands. Then, I decided to head for the bus because all of those people had seemed reasonably healthy on the way up, maybe my gag reflex would settle down if I could get away from the vomiting for a minute. Well, our bus was parked by the bathrooms. The vomiting was never ending. I was annoyed that my bathroom experience cost the same as the lady who didn't make it to the stall. I was so much cleaner!! I left the bathroom to get on the bus, when I noticed the bus smelled funny. I was worried I knew why when I guy went running from the back to get out the door just in time for his own vomit experience. Well, that set everyone on the bus off. No less than 8 people on our bus joined the epidemic. EIGHT!!! Out of about 30. Luckily, five of them actually made it off the bus to vomit. Of the remaining three, one had a bag and one made it out the window. The eighth person, a woman from Lima, not so lucky. Or rather, the rest of us were not so lucky. And these were just the numbers I was counting!! The insanity had started before I got there!!! Plus, I didn't count anyone who had not gotten on the bus first. You couldn't even look out the window while we waited for everyone to get on the bus because everyone outside was throwing up, too. I actually tried to just stare out the window towards the part of the parking lot that only had 3 cars in it, but then I saw these kids fighting or something in the backseat of the car. However, the one in the middle was actually just trying to push his brother out of the way so he could blow chunks out the door. It was green, and I'm pretty sure he got some on his brother. Needless to say, I was trying my best to quiet my gag reflex a bit. I opened the window when the smell got too bad, even though the girl next to me was acting all cold. I just didn't care at that point. Plus, I hoped the fresh air would do the vomiters some good.

Once we left Pasto Ruri, things got a bit better. Most of the vomiting happened while we were waiting for the people to come back down from the mountain. The last group, from Lima, was only an hour and a half late. This meant that we didn't really stop long in Catac for out "lunch" at 6:30. Some people had placed a pre-order, so they got to eat, but the rest of us didn't. I didn't care, at that point, I just wanted to get away from the barfing. However, while I enjoyed the fresh air, I did get two interviews with people who were not feeling sick. So, that was a plus.

So, I am sure you are all wondering, what caused Pasto Ruri to become the Vomitorium of Doom?? I don't know that I can give you a definite answer. However, I think I can give you a very educated guess. After a while, I thought it might be the elevation plus the fact that all of these people were only here for the weekend. They came up 5000 meters in a very short time and then hiked up to the glacier. That's gotta be tough. However, here comes the very educated part, Jeff explained that the night before I went was the biggest party night in Huaraz. All of those people came up to 3100 meters and went out until 3 or 5 in the morning, with a lot to drink, and then went up to 5000 with their hangovers. I think that is a good explanation for a lot of what went on. There were some little kids barfing, but part of that could have been that EVERYONE was barfing. Some people may have been just affected by the altitude, but I'm pretty sure the rest were right in line with Jeff's theory. However, I would like to say a few things about the vomiters. None of them respected the altitude at all. That's for sure. The only thing that turned my stomach was all of them. Also, other people that had acclimatized, even a little bit, were doing much better. One of the people vomiting had only come to Huaraz the afternoon before from Lima. Sea level to 5000 meters in less than 24 hours. Smart. I would also like to say that pretty much everyone throwing up was from Lima, specifically. I'm sure some were from Trujillo or Arequipa, but the majority were from Lima. Everyone who threw up on our bus was from Lima. All eight of them. I think four of them were also in a group together, too. Bleh. So, I guess I learned a lot about people from Lima...

I wonder if this is the kind of anecdote I'm allowed to use in my thesis...?

Anyways, after I got back, I changed my vomit-smelling clothes and went out to dinner with Jeff, Adam, and Adam's lady friend, Erin. I found that I couldn't eat much (surprise, surprise) despite not having much more than a banana and some popcorn all day. I took my sandwich home, though. Then, it was supposed to be our big night of partying. However, after two days of interviewing and hiking, I was super exhausted. I went to Vagamundo with the three of them, but between not knowing anyone they were talking about, not knowing the 85 million people they ran into that they knew, and having the Spanish part of my brain turn off a couple hours before, I could not get myself to wake up. So, I headed out pretty quickly, much to my disappointment. I spend a lot of hours here feeling lonely, so why couldn't I wake up for this perfect opportunity to speak to people in person about non-glacial stuff and use English??!!?! I have no idea. It was probably partly induced by the Day of Vomit's exhaustion, partly weakness from not being able to eat much all day. If only I could stop being shy long enough to open up and be equally as interesting as everyone else, I would probably be and have more fun. Well, what are you going to do?? Instead, I will entertain myself with blogs and eBay!! Well, as long as I have internet...

Anyways, here are some non-vomit pictures and a video (I tried uploading 2, but blogger is just not having it today, so I will try to upload the other one later...) that I took on the trip to the Vomitorium, I mean, Pasto Ruri!!!

My educational picture with the llamas in sunglasses. They were cute, but sooooo bored with the whole process. Behind us is the gaseous water, but that really wasn't as cool.
This is me at the base of the hike. Look at the altitude!!! Look at the altitude!! I made it to 5000 m!!!!!
I looked over the blog and have been shocked at the lack of rock out faces in the past few weeks. So, what better place to rock out than a glacier! That's totally rock out worthy!!
I am in an ice cave in the glacier. People kept breaking off the icicles like the one I am standing next to. I don't know why, but some people were eating them. They were really dirty, so I thought it was gross...


Canada Glacier said...

Beautiful pictures! Glad they weren't polaroids or they'd be stinky! That reminds me of the vomit scene in Stand By Me... I've never heard of it happening in real life. Yuck!!!

Sarah said...

Wow! Jeff said the same thing about Stand By Me, but I've never seen it!! It was a crazy, awful thing to be in, but it makes a funny story!!!