June 19, 2007
Taquesi Trek Day 1
I got up early today and walked to my supposed departure point as soon as it was light enough to do so. To my delight, there were actually several buses at the intersection, and one of them was even going to Ventilla. The bus was an old Blue Bird school bus with bags of grain, corn, and potatoes taking up the whole isle. Farmers wanting to go to their villages in the area filled the bus, and we left by 8:00.
The bus first crossed the city to the Zona Sul, which could be a wealthy suburb of any big American city. Next, we rode through the colorful canyon where the population thins out, and finally into the mountains. We rode over one high pass, then dropped down to Ventilla, which was a collection of about ten houses.
The first part of the Taquesi trail went to Choquekota, a bigger community than Ventilla, but far more remote. The town just got electricity a few years ago, but no public transportation goes there, and its culture is still very traditional. It was harvest time, and women were collecting and beating big stacks of wheat as I walked by.
I continued walking uphill until I got to a point at about 4200 meters where there was a decent campsite in a flat place kind of near the river with grazing llamas nearby. The trek's only high pass was visible from this point, but it was going to take two hours to get to the top and another three hours before the next campsite. It was only 3:00, but I wouldn't be able to make it to the next campsite before dark, so I decided to call it a day.
The path branched off near my campsite (next to the first sign for the trail) and went to an old mine. To my surprise, I found out that the miners still worked there when one of them stopped by for a chat on his way home from work. He told me that he knew the trail well, I could expect to walk another day and a half, and that it would be a nice walk. I guess that answers the question of why I didn't see any men in the fields of Choquekota.
I was going to relax a bit before putting up my tent, but then snow started coming off the surrounding mountains as a reminder of how cold it was about to get. I put my tent up and made sure to have dinner done before dark so I could retreat to my sleeping bag once the coldness set in.
The photo entry for this album is here.