2 years in Perú

Today, May 7th, 2017, marks 2 years since officially landing on Peruvian soil (I think our plane touched down at like 10-11pm). While I haven’t officially reached 2 years in my site of Caraz, Áncash (gotta wait until July 25th, 2017), to commemorate this occasion enjoy some of my favorite photos of scenery that I have taken in my beautiful department of Áncash.

Enjoy the photos!

Mount Huascarán as seen from Huaráz
The valley visible from the cliffside behind my house
The soccer stadium where my municipal department’s office is located
The Cordillera Blanca as seen from Huata (Cordillera Negra)
One of many beautiful sunsets I have seen from my house
A panorama of Cuncash, Santa Cruz.
Río Santa- for once not looking as contaminated as it actually is
More sunsets from my backyard
The entrance to the Quebrada Llaca (Llaca Ravine) outside of Huaráz
Inside the Quebrada Llaca
Laguna Llaca (Llaca lake) – the lake is formed from glacial melt and rainfall
A dry field behind my house- reminds me of the savannah
My host-siblings with a fiery sky in the background
Laguna Parón (Lake Parón) – this lake provides most of the water to my town
Snow capped mountains on the way to Punta Olímpica (Olympic Point), where you can cross the Cordillera Blanca to the “dark side”
Yuracmarca, Áncash. My host-mom’s home turf, this region is only 1.5 hours north of me, but is basically a desert.
A panorama of Yuracmarca, Áncash
Laguna Querococha on the way to the ruins of Chavín de Huantar
The archeological site, Chavín de Huantar
Colorful, natural springs inside Parque Nacional Huascarán (Huascaran National Park) on the way to the Pastoruri Glacier
At the Pastoruri Glacier, looking at other travelers
The Pastoruri Glacier- once famous for its skiing, it is famous for its melting due to climate change
Laguna Llanganuco- the reddish trees are called Queñuales
A waterfall on the way to Laguna 69
What we thought was Laguna 69; the real laguna 69 is way up there below the snow
The real Laguna 69 – the water wasn’t too cold
Laguna Parón once more. The mountain in the back is called Pirámide (Pyramid)
Wilkacocha – a lake near Huaráz on the Cordillera Negra
Caraz – my home for the last 2 years
Another beautiful sunset from a site near Huaráz
Mount Huascarán as seen from the town square of Mancos
The Callejón de Huaylas as seen from a hike up to Huascarán
Sunset during a hike up to the base of Mount Huascarán
Sunset in the other direction
First glimpse of Mount Huascarán in the morning. We eventually reached the “snow” line
A contemplative selfie on the way back down the mountain
Quebrada Quilcayhuanca
Fellow Volunteer Kevin hiking in Quebrada Quilcayhuanca
Laguna Tullpacocha at the conclusion of our hike into the Quebrada Quilcayhuanca
Some cool clouds as seen from my backyard
Laguna Churup- one of the most beautiful lakes I have visited
The Campiña de Yanahuara – the place I’ve called home for the last 2 years
From an excursion with three of my former students
An abandoned church in the hills near my house
A beautiful, moony night at my house
The start of a sunset during the rainy season
Fresh snow on the mountain after a heavy rainfall elsewhere
One last sunset
Mount Huascarán once more
The municipal soccer stadium & Mount Huandoy, the famous snow-capped peak of Caraz

I live in a very beautiful region of the world and I am extremely grateful for the wonderful experiences I have enjoyed during my Peace Corps service. Here’s to one more year!

Until next time,



Among the Andes

In Peace Corps Perú, we have a policy in place known as 3 days/2 nights in which Volunteers can take a few days reprieve from their service to distress and recoup their mental health. Generally, Volunteers use this time to head to their regional capitals, hang out with fellow Volunteers, speak some English, and eat some tasty food (pancakes and pizza anyone?). For my first two months, I didn’t take advantage of this policy, mostly because I really enjoy my site and was too busy to find time to get away. However, last week my go-go-go lifestyle finally caught up with me, and I decided to head into Huaráz (my regional capital) for the weekend to take a break and do something I have been longing to do since I arrived in Perú; go on a hike in the Andes!

I am incredibly lucky to be a Peace Corps Perú Volunteer in the Department of Ancash because we are never in want of beautiful scenery and treks, mainly because of the famous Parque Huascarán, which is Perú’s largest national park. Oddly enough, a Peace Corps Volunteer named Curry Slaymaker was integral in the creation of the park in the 1970s when he returned to Perú after completing his 2 year Peace Corps service.   He helped to create the first delineations of the borders of the National Park, and later became the first Director of the park. Needless to say, Parque Huascarán, located in the famous Cordillera Blanca of Perú, is incredibly gorgeous, with astounding mountain vegetation, glacial lakes, and of course, the world famous nevados (snow capped peaks).

One Sunday morning, 4 other Volunteers and I started our trek into the Andes to reach Laguna Llaca, one of the many glacial lakes in Parque Huascarán. It took around 4.5 hours to get to the lake, and about 2 hours to get back out to the main road, and the entire hike was incredible. Rather than drone on with further embellishments, I’ll just let the following pictures portray the absolute beauty of my brief Andean expedition.

The "entrance" to Parque Huascarán.  Note the altitude.
The “entrance” to Parque Huascarán. Note the altitude.
The path into the Andes.  These "valleys" are called quebradas.
The path into the Andes. These “valleys” are called quebradas.
You can see the nevado in the background.  That was our target.
You can see the nevado in the background. That was our target.
Mid-hike photo shoot.
Mid-hike photo shoot.
The water here was known as Yurac Yaku, which means white water in Quechua.
The water here was known as Yurac Yaku, which means white water in Quechua.
This is a Queñual tree, found all over Parque Huascarán.
This is a Queñual tree, found all over Parque Huascarán.
Pondering the glacial lake and the immense nevado.
Pondering the glacial lake and the immense nevado.
Still smiling despite the exhausting hike up. Altitude can be a challenge.
Group photo during the descent.  We somehow forgot to take a group photo at the lake...
Group photo during the descent. We somehow forgot to take a group photo at the lake…

Overall, my first experience in Parque Huascarán was amazing, and I’m looking forward to hiking even more in the next 2 years.  Hopefully, my next hike won’t end with us getting drenched by a rainstorm like this one.