I’ve been trying to live my life wide open and ready for anything and I love the freedom that gives me to do anything at anytime. Today
my friend Tansar who lives here at the same hostel Apu Wasi.. invited me to go the mountains with him. He’s been in Peru for 3 years and has fallen in love with Mt.
Ausangate, Peru’s highest and most ominous mountain of 22-thousand feet. He goes to the mountains as much as he can and had already planned it all out with one of his local friends. We would meet them at the bus station in Tinque – 3 hours from Cuzco. We’d then take a cab to Maurio’s house to grab his horses, pack up and hit the trail. I couldn’t resist such an offer.. and well, I’m a sucker for the mountains and camping!
False start in the morning. I got sick the night before and was up all night with a stomach bug, so when that alarm went off at 4:30 a.m.
I had to tell Tansar I wasn’t going. Bummer. I fell back asleep only to wake up 2 hours later
feeling a 100% better.. but completely bummed that I missed out. Wait, isn’t that Tansar I hear outside my door? As luck has it, the bus didn’t leave at its normal time of 6am.. but was leaving at 8:30 instead. I jumped out of bed and hopped the taxi with Tansar.
We met Maurio at the bus station here in Cuzco. He had already purchased our tickets so all we had to do was jump on. The road is a serious of switch backs which seemed to take forever.. but I managed to catch a few winks and try to heal my body some more. We arrived in Tinque with no problems. Tansar has some super groovy clothes he wears into the mountains, some help him blend with the locals, others make a true statement. He says he likes to dress up for Ausangate. So I needed something too. I decided to buy one of the hats the local women wear, I actually bought it right off the woman, along with some hot pink leg warmers.. yup, style is key when you are going to meet the mountain for the first time. I can’t say my horse minded the
outfit either. This marked my first horseback trip – and I couldn’t have planned it a better way. Tansar and I would ride while Maurio and Gregorio would lead on foot. It felt odd at first until I was reassured by all that this is normal. We also had one
extra horse for our packs. Maurio grew up in these mountains. In fact, his mom and dad welcomed us with the horses when we arrived. Cute damn couple which doesn’t speak any Spanish.. but somehow me and his mom go along very well with lots and lots of laughs.. she loved my new hat and stockings, even helped me fix it so it wouldn’t get blown off my head!
Our destination was Hotel Hilton which sits at the foot of the mountain. A very small community, maybe 20 buildings with awe inspiring views… and HOT SPRINGS.. oh I couldn’t wait to slip on in. Part of the agreement was that I
would bring half the food since I was the “strange” vegetarian eater in the group. Between Maurio and I we put on an absolute feast for dinner. I had made a mango salsa beforehand as well as a seaweed salad. While at first timid, the guys all jumped in and loved the spicy food. It’s a good rule of thumb for me, when in the woods, I like to bring spice to my dishes. Of course both Tansar and I had brought wine too. We had a lovely evening, then retired
upstairs to the most basic of rooms, plastic on the floor with a few simple foam mats that we piled one on top of the other, then covered them with wool blankets. Home sweet home, nice and cozy.
I always have to get up in the middle of the night to go potty. WOW I was completely blown away by the sky, squatting in absolute awe, I could see the shadow of the mountain. I was so excited
when I got back in bed, that I couldn’t sleep.. plus the air was super thin and I was having to focus on my breathing. I decided what the hell, I go soak in the springs and watch the day brake. Uh huh, a brilliant plan. I will hold that memory tight for a very long time. Ausangate is a very sacred mountain, the lead mountain if you will in a serious of them they call Apu. which means spirit. I knelt before the mountain in the hot sulphur waters and prayed. Prayed to let go of any hurt or anger or sadness, prayed to find love, to find my purpose, to live a gracious and compassionate life. I asked the Apu to show me the way and guide my on my journey here on earth. It was a magical moment watching the sun hit the snow covered peak and dance around its glaciers.
The original plan was that Tansar would then take the horses and go in further on his own for two days, while I hung out for another night, then returned back on Friday. We were having such a good time, that Tansar asked if I wanted to join him, going it alone with the horses and such. Cease the moment. So the guys made a quick breakfast, we chatted with the family and kids close by, then headed on in for a couple nights camping at 14-15 thousand feet. It was cold. You
always had at least 2-3 layers on, especially since the horses were doing the work, not you. My goodness the beauty, the jagged rocks, the jade blue glacier lagoons, the moist tundra and the vistas that seem to reach to space. I really enjoyed the quiet time to think, to connect with Mother Nature, to connect to
my horse, to connect with the mountain. It was a good match as Tansar wanted the alone time too, the space to think and connect. We were both on spiritual journeys in the mountains.. just doing it together for safety sake J
I managed to kick out a killer dinner and breakfasts… which was like a big red bow on top of gorgeous gift of a day. We actually got our nerves up enough to jump into
one of the lagoons.. a very, very, very quick dip as I found myself clawing at the edge trying to climb out as quick as possible. Man though, does it feel good when your body is tingling.. so alive, so good to be alive!!
And the stars, so many of them. One night I must have saw more than a dozen shooting stars. That’s one of my favorite things about camping, the time it affords to sit and look at the stars. There’s a great big universe out there, that’s for sure. Nights were cold and I was glad I had my sleeping bag and liner, plus another wool blanket or two. Days though would warm up quickly and we were blessed with fantastic weather the whole time, not a bit of rain. Tansar said it was a good sign that the mountain liked me. I liked him too!! Thank you Mt. Ausangate for such an eye-opening experience. Peru just keeps on getting higher and higher marks from this traveler. I wonder what is next!!!