So there we were, stranded and freezing on the side of a mountain with two people who were all bundled up and prepared to walk up even higher. They offered to take us with them, but we had come to a decision already. We needed to GO! After finding out that this was their only plan for the day and that we weren’t going to any other part of the park, Marin and I started walking. The logical part our brains said “We’ll just find the driver, he must be close.” The more primal part of our brains was saying “itt’ss tttoo cccooolddd!”
We had walked maybe a quarter of a mile when we came across a woman selling some scarves by the side of the road. I thought this odd because I hadn’t seen her on our way up, but shrugged it off. I was too cold to think that hard. We asked if she knew where the driver might have gone, hoping there was some main office we didn’t know about. She said no and proceeded to try and sell as her scarves for 70 Nuevo Soles, nearly twice as much as we had paid for our sweaters. After finally convincing her that no, we didn’t need any scarves, handmade or not, we were on our way again. Curious, I looked back and found that she had packed up her wares and was heading home again. Apparently, she only came out because of us.
On our way down, we discussed what had gone wrong and how we could remedy the situation. After a time, we began to notice the landscape around us. It was breathtaking! There were all these stone walls and mud brick houses with thatched roofs scattered around the lush green mountainside. Men and women worked the fields here and there and we would occasionally pass children leading sheep, cows or alpacas along by braided rope. Animals grazed and the whole thing felt as though we had stepped out of real life and into a fantasy movie. It was getting warmer and we stopped worrying about our plight and started taking pictures and reveling in the beauty around us.
Several hours later, we reached a crossroads and weren’t sure which way we should go. Marin’s phone finally had service, so she called the driver and he came to pick us up. To let him know where we were we referenced a sign with the name Parque de las Papas, and the elevation: 3800 meters. On the ride back up the mountain, we were informed that we had passed him an hour ago, that the park was over 900 hectares in size and consisted of five different communities of indigenous people, and that where we had been dropped off was over 14,000 feet in elevation. We had done a 14-er and didn’t even know it!
Here are some photos from that crazy day. Check back in to find out how it ended.