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Discovering Huaraz

An ancient city with a new beginning.

semi-overcast 16 °C

In a steep sided valley squeezed between two great Andean ranges lies the northern Peruvian city of Huaraz, and from our hotel balcony we can view 23 of Peru’s highest peaks, including the permanently snow-capped Mt. Huscaran at 22,205 feet…
On May 31st 1970, the Great Peruvian Earthquake shook these giant mountains like a dog with a rag doll until great boulders snapped off and crashed down the hillsides…
The tight-knit community of Huaraz, perched more than 10,000 feet in the mountains, took the brunt of the shaking. More than 95% of the buildings were destroyed and upwards of 25,000 people lost their lives. Many who were not killed by falling rocks and buildings were swept away in the subsequent days by the floods that resulted from the debris damming the many rivers. Following the carnage, and with the help of international donors, the old city’s remnants were razed and a new city laid out on the site.
Wide boulevards with central gardens were built to replace the narrow lanes of the colonial city…
A new cathedral was started…
A colonnaded shopping street was rebuilt…
And thousands of new buildings were begun. But that was 45 years ago and sadly it seems that few buildings, (including the cathedral), were ever finished. Many of them are now beginning to deteriorate beyond redemption…
However, life goes on for these hardy mountain people much as it has done for centuries and the daily street market is abuzz with colourful farm women all sporting their traditional costumes as they try to scrape a living…
Others have come up with more novel ways of getting a few bucks…
Their traditionally tall decorated trilby hats are particularly attractive – as are the sunglasses on the llama, (or is it a vicuna?).

Most of Huaraz is a century or more away from the ritzy areas of the capital, Lima, but there is much wealth here. The surrounding mountains are honeycombed by some of the richest gold, silver and uranium mines in the world - many Canadian owned – but little seems to find its way onto the streets. A three course lunch, including a cold drink, can be had for just $1.50, while tuk-tuks are still the most common transport for the poor…

Posted by Hawkson 15:19 Archived in Peru

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Spectacular mountains. Mt. Huscaran is almost as high as Mt. Aconcagua (#2 of the 7 summits of the world).
Is it an optical illusion or is Sheila six inches taller than those two llama tenders? Great photo.

by R and B

Sheila I love your bright blue shirt. You fit in so beautifully with your colourful picture mates. Earthquakes happen and life goes on, need more sharing by the wealthy Canadians profiting from the mines.

by Sue Fitzwilson

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