Monday, February 05, 2007

Lunahuana

At the invitation of some Department of State friends, this weekend we visited the tiny hamlet of Lunahuana 150 km (93 miles) south of Lima. We headed out of town on the always crowded in the summer Pan-American Highway joining the throngs of beach-goers seeking refuge from the heat and hustle of Lima. Thankfully, most of the beach dwellers reached their destinations early on in our trek leaving us open highway for the duration of the trip. Our route passed through country so desolate the deserts of Nevada and Arizona would be considered lush. Cactus, Jacaranda trees, even the ubiquitous sagebrush would have been a welcomed sight in this part of Peru. To the West the Pacific gleamed in the hot summer sun, vast and deep though occasionally marred by murky refuse. This was not the tranquil, inviting Pacific Ocean of my childhood with pristine beaches and gloriously warm temperatures. This ocean was cold and ominous and unfamiliar. But the stark contrast of the barren, sandstone cliffs against the pale blue water was breathtakingly beautiful. Near the end of our journey, the arid land gave way to a fertile valley fed by the Canete River and our destination. Lunahuana is situated on the banks of the Canete in the heart of Peru's wine country. Our hotel, the Rio Alto, overlooked the rushing rapids of the Canete and the blossoming vineyards beyond.








After checking in we left to take advantage of the summer swells of the Canete and go white water rafting. We were issued life jackets and helmets (yes, helmets) and then the seven of us (Caleb stayed behind at the hotel with our maid) jumped into two rafts captained by the very non-Peruvian named Henry and Percy. After a short lesson which included instuctions on how to hold the oars, how to paddle and how to quickly shift our weight from one side of the raft to the other we were ready to go. We were unprepared for the ferocity of the Canete. Since it NEVER rains in Lima, it took a few minutes to remember that the source of the Canete is deep in the Andes mountains and that it is fed by ample rain and snow melt to produce serious rapids. My previous experiences with white water rafting have included the Green River at Flaming Gorge in Utah (we had a cooler in the raft with us) and the Youghiogheny River in Pennsylvania (the Colorado it is not) and having never heard of the Canete I did not expect the class 4 rapids we were thrust into. We managed, barely, to stay in the raft the entire time, though some of our companions were not as lucky, but we were beyond drenched at the end of our hour and a half voyage and missing more than one oar. It was AWESOME! During the few calms spots along the river we took in the verdant countryside and inhaled deeply the grape infused air. Tired and sore after using every muscle in our bodies to stay afloat, we put Caleb to bed, ate dinner at the hotel (all meals were included in the weekend package), and fell into bed ourselves. The heat, the lightest sleeping baby in the world, and the 5:30 am barking dog did not provide the most restful of nights, but we managed to convince Caleb to go back to sleep for another hour before breakfast and the day's adventures.
Before heading out for the day we walked along a stone path down to the river and stopped to take in the foliage and more grapevines. Again, leaving Caleb behind, we hopped on mountain bikes (donning more helmets) and took an hour and a half bike ride through Lunahuana and the surrounding countryside. Though hot, the ride was refreshing and the scenery picturesque. Vineyards and farms dotted with small houses and animals flanked the river for miles in either direction. In the distance, the rocky hills formed the walls of the river valley trapping the sun and ripening the grapes.








Upon returning to the hotel, we ate another meal, this time indulging in the Rio Trucha (river trout - delicious) and salads made with local vegetables and grapes. One last quick swim and we regretfully packed ourselves into the car and headed back out to join the other equally unenthusiastic travelers on the journey back to Lima. We will definitely be returning to lovely Lunahuana.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Post something soon, please. Even something boring. You know you are the most exciting thing in our sad lives. Loren

two forks said...

hello.... hola??? todos uds. estan bien? please come back!

Paris Soul Mate said...

Seriously...it's almost April already. Do we need to start a petition not to cancel this blog?

Kenny, Linsey and Caleb said...

Okay, okay, we're back. Sorry for the hiatus, we'll try not to let it happen again!

 

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