Well I wanted adventure, didn’t I? The road to Huancayo is not exactly the Trans Canada, but I thought I might mitigate some of the discomfort by booking one of the swankier buses, complete with personal tvs and meals served on tray tables at your seat. Picture the leg room of an airplane seat in first class with the food quality of economy class. At $30 for the 7 hour trip, I was not complaining.
Things started out tame enough, as the bus accended out of the cloak of Lima’s perpetual fog and into the foothills of the Andes. We passed through several villages clinging to cliffsides along the road, which followed the valley created by the Rio(River) Rimac. I knew from my map that things got much steeper along the way, but as we got above the treeline, the sheer cliffs we drove along were pretty much the definition of vertical. It was like driving through the downtown of a major city with all the skyscrapers made entirely of stone. How they managed to build this road and its accompanying railway, is a mystery to me. I will never complain about the roads in British Columbia again.
Things got really interesting as we ascended out of the river canyon. At an elevation of just over 3800m we came across a car in the ditch and our courteous bus driver decided to help block traffic on the switchback while a group of enterprising locals towed the vehicle to safety. This sounds like a simple task as I describe it but the car was tipped to almost 45 degrees at the sharpest point of the switchback and the wheels along the driver’s side were barely touching the ground.
My personal issue with the delay was the altitude. Having come from sea level in Lima, my lungs were getting a workout like I was doing some decent cardio, though I was simply leaning back in my seat panting like an overweight shitzu. I have been to that elevation before, but never directly from sea level, so the acclimitazation was much more dramatic. I should be greatful the accident didn’t occur a little further up the pass; the highest pass on the road to Huancayo reaches 4843m.
After a delay of about 45 minutes we were on hour way again and eventually rolled into Huancayo in the early evening. I caught a taxi to the charmingly named Casa de la Abuela (House of the Grandma) and I tucked more poor, oxygen-starved self in for the night. Despite the cold, I slept like the dead.