Departed Lamay for Huacahuasi, in the Lares valley.

Yes, that's a protractor in his right hand Yes, that's a protractor in his right hand
Our first stop was in Calcas, whose plaza prominently features a bust of… a geometrician! Dr. Eusebio Corazao Quintanilla has no Wikipedia entry, alas, but he is remembered in his hometown and now in Los Alamos. How many small Andean towns have a mathematician for a hero? How many towns anywhere? This was a delightful and memorable surprise.

More driving. An hour’s stop at Ancasmarca to stretch our legs and view an Inca granary. More driving; a short walk through a commercial hot-baths place (including some Inca Trail time). Lunch by a small river. Finally, another short drive to get us to our trailheads: again splitting into two groups, one with a short hike and one with a longer one. I chose the latter.

Cruzccasa pass

The hike was spectacular. Easy terrain and only a gradual slope; even with the altitude, it was easy to set a comfortable pace up to Cruzccasa Pass. Far ahead there was another person walking up, visible in a brightly colored head covering. I was curious because we had so far met few people on our walks. My pace was a little faster—unsurprising in hindsight—and I caught up just at the pass: it was a Quechua woman carrying wares for sale. Weavings, tchotchkes, even beer. At the pass she unfolded her blanket and spread out her display in a few short seconds; swiftly, efficiently, elegantly. I was to see this over and over again the next few days, but never lost my amazement at the grace with which these vendors set up.

Quechua vendor at Cruzccasa pass Quechua vendor at Cruzccasa pass
(Side note: I never found a solution to my discomfort with this aspect of our trip, with the vendors. This woman carried a huge and heavy load up two thousand feet in hopes of making a few sols; an amount which means very little to me as a spoiled rich American; and even so, I bought nothing and gave her nothing. Nor did I buy from the next vendor or the next or next. I smiled and thanked them all, and sometimes another member of our group would make a purchase, but I never figured out my own solution to this—and perhaps that’s the lesson. Remember my privilege. Find and donate to good causes. And keep that awareness with me.)

Lodgeward Ho

Approaching the village of Huacahuasi Approaching the village of Huacahuasi
We paused at the pass to rest, savor the views, and (for some) shop; then we made our gradual way down to our night’s lodging at Huacahuasi Lodge. Hiking down, I was reminded of Iceland: short multicolored-green ground cover, swirling clouds, no trees to be seen anywhere. Beautiful rock formations. More llamas and Inca ruins than I remember seeing in Iceland. Fewer giant waterfalls.

We reached our lodge at twilight. This lodge had private outdoor hot tubs, and after dinner Ginger and I soaked and stargazed. Southern Cross—achievement unlocked.