I look out over the cotton wool sphere that fills the sky, so tired that I am wide awake. After six months I am North bound, the South American chapter of my adventure has closed and it is the dawn of something new....
I feel both somber and fulfilled by my incredible journey this year so far. Amazing adventures, remarkable experiences, new friends, all of which have brought about my personal reinvention, blessed me with happiness and given me some answers to my big questions from the beginning of the year.
The last destination of my action packed Peruvian itinerary delivered on its promise plus a little extra, in the way of some unexpected Dutch charm.
After a day lost to a tediously long journey, courtesy of the oversize truck which side swiped our bus, at a bewitching hour I wearily arrived in Huaraz. When I awoke and ventured out the next morning I fell a little bit in love. Huaraz is not only gorgeously framed by snow capped mountains; it brought me espresso, funky cafes, an incredible hostel and yet another fabulous food market...and that was just the beginning!
Another mountain biking stint was on my agenda, I have been a few times before but can undoubtedly say that my day out in Cordillera Blanca was the first time I have truly been mountain biking! I have the scrapes and bruises to prove it after getting up close and personal with the maize fields on more than one occasion.
My last four days on the continent I would spend notching up another 40 or so trek kilometers as I set my sights on Santa Cruz, known for its altitude and captivating beauty.
The mountains of Cordillera Blanca did not disappoint, it is one of the most breathtaking places I have visited. The landscape is incredibly majestic; dotted with wildflowers, yellow, blue, white and violet. Snow covered peaks rise up surrounding the lush green valleys, cows graze and the odd curious calf is partial to sharing your Milky Way.
When I arrived at the camp site on Day 2 I felt completely overwhelmed, a spectacular glacier covered peak dominated the vista and I couldn't think of a better way to be spending my last days in Peru. At 4200m, despite a few rays of sunshine, the air was crisp to say the least. Not long after dusk and an early dinner the only place to be was thermalled and snugly inside sleeping bags and tents, recharging and reviving, ready to tackle the 4750m pass upon sunrise.
Following a bright starry night was an opulently clear morning, the snow caps shone brilliantly under the early sun beams while the valley remained asleep a little longer. As we made our way to the pass it was difficult to stay focused, the lake we passed the day before came into view and as we gained height sitting just below the glacier was another icy shimmering pool. Standing at the top was amazing, a peep hole into two stunning valleys; but, what goes up must come down and after a few moments of accomplishment we gradually made our way down to camp.
By Day 4 I felt like I was just getting into my rhythm and could have easily continued for a few more days, but at the same time welcomed a hot shower and clean clothes.
My last evening was spent in very good company with some vino tinto, several hours of shared trekking, travel and life experiences and a few indelible moments of magic...
An end and a beginning....