So, I am deep into my own work these days, which is both cool and terrifying. While I helped out with samples and went on hikes, I was not ultimately responsible for anything that happened. Yes, I tried my hardest. When a syringe fell in the river and was getting sucked downstream, I ran down the bank and almost dove into the river trying to reach it (I failed because the mossy bank started to give way, so I had to back up, but I was soaked up to my elbow... That's gotta count for something.) However, it wasn't MY work, so it wasn't my fault if it failed miserably. What I'm doing now, totally is my fault if it fails... Pleasant feeling. By the way, although I did not capture the syringe, they had another one, so it was OK.
So, what have I been up to these past few days? Well, I interviewed some travel agencies to get a feel for where tourists to Huaraz were headed. After about 5 of those, I realized that there are 2 main destinations: Llanganuco and Chavin. I signed up for a tour of each to get started on my interviews. Little did I know, the tour guides talk just about 90% of the time... So, I think I'm going to have to rethink that plan. However, it was a good experience to get to know the area and what people are here to see. I had been under the impression that everyone came here to see glaciers (which is definitely more the case when the park with easy to get to glacier is open...), but now that the park is closed, people are seeing the countryside, lakes, and archaeological ruins. Most people were actually weirded out that I was asking them about glaciers... Oy.
The tours themselves were interesting though. When I wasn't feeling sick to my stomach with the car swerving across the road to avoid potholes, I liked looking at the countryside. The tour guides had a lot of interesting things to say, also. They want to make the trips more interesting, as well. The lake trip is not that exciting. You go, you see the lake, whoopdi do. However, they stop for ice cream, see a church, visit a pottery, stop for lunch, the works. So, that's kind of fun. It does mean, though, that there is NO time for interviews.
However, on the Llanganuco trip, there was one site that was almost disturbing in the tourist nature of it all: Campo Santo. This is the sight of the old town of Yungay that was destroyed in an avalanche in the 70's. We walked over top of everyone's houses, workplaces, and, of course, their dead bodies. They were buried under 13 meters of rubble, but still. We also got to see some of the damage sitting on the top. There was a bus fused to a car with an extra truck chassy sticking through the middle. They were all rusted and mangled. It was disturbing. However, even more than the tourist-ness of this ruined town, I was seriously bothered by the way people were treating it. Everyone was making jokes about what we should do if we felt the earth shake. One couple (who had been making out the ENTIRE trip... seriously, no one had any idea what they looked like when their faces weren't stuck together) sat down on the rock where they were displaying the mangled vehicles and kept right on playing tonsil hockey. I'm not saying they kissed every once in a while, they were intensely into the moment and it was LOUD. Not only did they ruin everyone's pictures, they were totally not respecting the place.
One more thing that bothered me about Campo Santo, which will probably offend everyone with my cavalier treatment of it, was the Jesus statue. Now, don't get me wrong, who doesn't love the big JC? (heehee... that's gonna get to people, either because they don't love him or because I called him the big JC) However, while everything around the statue was destroyed, they found the statue with a minimum of cracks in it, and they are now displaying the original. It's a nice enough story, but it gets.... interesting. Because this statue was saved from the wreckage, practically untouched, it just proves the holiness of God, right? This is what the tour guide wanted to point out. What I wanted to point out, but refrained, is that 72,000 people died that day. Entire towns and communities were destroyed forever, with no hope of escape. They had 7 minutes to flee 25 hectares of ice and snow moving at 350 km an hour. Even people who ran were killed. If God was concerned about protecting something, I just don't think it would have been a statue of himself. Now, I am not disputing religion at this point. Anyone can believe anything they want. I'm not even stating what I believe. What I am stating is that the statue was saved because of the fact that it was in a protected courtyard and made of concrete or something. Anyways, sorry if that offends anyone. Although I enjoy the look of consternation on my parents' faces when I say something outrageous, I can't see anyone's face when they read this, thus, it's just not as fun. However, it really bothered me, so I wanted to get it off my chest.
And now some pictures for your viewing pleasure!
Hey, look, Mom!! It's a llama!! Can I keep him??? Although, at this point, I should probably be asking Sandip... However, he won't let me get a puppy, I doubt he'd feel any better about a llama.
This is the lake at Llanganuco. It's super pretty, but super cold. However, the lake has healing powers. We were attacked by bugs, and the bites were swelling up all nasty and huge. The guide said to put some of the water on them, and they immediately felt better. The next day, they were gone!! Weird, huh??
This is the infamous Jesus statue in the cemetery that they rebuilt. Each level houses memorials to people in the avalanche and other coffins and tombs that they recovered from the town. It's not a bad sentiment, but.... it really bugs me. Moving on...
Hey! It's me in my Inca Kola shirt!!! I'm in front of a mountain. I don't remember which one, but I do know that it's the hardest one to climb in the Cordillera Blanca. It's very steep and some of that ice falls down. Muy Peligroso.
This is Querococha. I massacred the spelling, but it's super pretty. This was at about 4500 meters or so. It was nice getting up that high on a bus.... Anyways, I have a new record: 4929, according to the GPS Sarah F. and I had on a water sample day. Not sure if that's right, but we're going with it. Soooo close to over 5000. Hopefully I can make it over later in the trip!!
Anyways, TTFN: tata for now!! The wonderful thing about Tiggers are Tiggers are wonderful things. Their tops are made out of rubber. Their bottoms are made out of springs. They're bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy, fun, fun, fun, fun ,fun. But the most wonderful thing about Tiggers is I'm the only one.... I'm the only one!!! Love you, miss you!!!