Tuesday 4 August

A lazy morning. It has clouded over and is cooler than of late. Rachel gets some washing done and I make myself useful hanging things up to dry, then read for a bit and listen to some more Spanish lessons on my mp3 player.

Quite near to lunchtime we decide to do as the Peruvians do and have our main meal in the middle of the day, since the bread we bought yesterday has gone very stale.

We cook some more of the rice from the market, with sausage and a tomato/bolognaise sauce. It tastes good but the rice is very sticky because we could not rinse it. At least it was not crunchy.

After a serious siesta we finally head into town at about quarter to four. We both have a few aches and pains from the long hike yesterday but the short walk should do us good. We want to book a day trip into the mountains for tomorrow and then get some food shopping.

Pony’s Expeditions is closed, but we have better luck at Los Pinos. The man there speaks good English and describes two options – a taxi ride to Lake Parón with two hours there to explore for 90 soles plus another 10 soles for the park fees. Or we can try a strenuous walk to Laguna 69, with a colectivo to the start point and the possibility of hiring a guide for $25 each.

He has some errands to run so we find a café to mull over te options. Two hours at Lake Parón does not sound very much, but we are not sure about the strenuous three hour 750 m climb to Laguna 69 at nearly 4600 m, plus it is a longer journey to get there making an eleven hour day in all. We decide to plump for Lake Parón.

The man is not back yet when we return to Los Pinos. After a long wait we agree that I will fetch the shopping while Rachel waits. I quite enjoy myself going through the market mangling the Spanish language, but successfully procuring the items we wanted.

I return to Rachel just over half an hour later and the man still has not returned. We are just debating what to do next (it is beginning to get dark) when he appears on a bicycle and we get the trip booked.

We look into the Café de Rat on the way back and decide to stop there to eat as it is getting late. The café is in an upstairs room, and is decorated with expedition paraphernalia. The walls in the corner where we are sitting are covered in graffiti – messages left by other visitors, mostly recording their expeditions into the mountains. We have delicious pancakes, sweet (Rachel) and savory (me).

It is a scary mototaxi ride back to the resort down the middle of the road in the dark with the glare of on-coming headlights in the dirty windscreen half blinding us. The driver seems very unsteady. He does not know the O’Pal (no surprise there) and we have to stop him as we sail past the track. He takes the mototaxi as far as the gate, nearly overturning it on the rough track. We are glad to walk the final stretch, and are greeted by a chorus of barking dogs.