I Can't Get Out Of Here

August 18-19, 2007
Day 689-690

I brought some bottled water to the donation center for the earthquake victims, and was surprised to see how huge the pile of donated goods had become. In only three days, the people of Huaraz managed to put together an entire semi full of clothes, water, and food. Most of the people here don't know anyone affected by the earthquake and have very little to give away, yet they still managed to help so much. The Peruvian generosity humbled me. My donations will surely help, but the locals have given away so much more to people they've never even met.

I decided to do a short walk to a lagoon in the mountains to help acclimatize better for my Huayhuash trek. When I got some supplies at a local shop, an old couple there invited me to sit down and chat. I ended up talking to them for over an hour. They were in the area in 1970 when the earthquake hit and said that it literally took months for aid to arrive because of the lack of communication mediums. The entire area was covered with mud. Houses crumbled. Crops were lost. The water was contaminated. Many of those who survived the earthquake later died of disease and starvation. Their stories were horrible but interesting, and I'm sure the latest earthquake brought back some bad memories for them.

On the way back to my hostel, I ran into a Slovenian couple I originally had met while volunteering with the puma in Bolivia, then subsequently ran into several times in La Paz a few months ago. They were in Lima during the earthquake (where there wasn't much damage), but had been in Pisco (one of the hardest hit areas) only one day earlier. They also met a guy who had left Ica only twenty minutes before the earthquake. His bus was almost knocked right off the Panamerican Highway as it crumbled below him. They weren't sure how the tourist resort of Huacachina (only a few minutes from Ica) was doing, but worried that many of the dunes may have crumbled onto the houses below. We talked about happier things too, and it was good to see them again and to hear that they were doing well. It was one of those days where I couldn't walk five minutes without getting into an hour-long conversation with someone.

When I finally made it back to my hotel room, I flicked the light switch, but nothing happened. I asked the owner what was happening, and she told me that the power had been cut in the entire department for the day to do some sort of repairs. That meant the gas station would be closed, which meant that I couldn't buy fuel for my stove, so I couldn't go camping tonight. My warm-up trip will have to wait until tomorrow.

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