Tuesday, July 20, 2010

There is no more room in the collectivo. It is full--standing room only. But then the horn honks and the young man by the door sticks his arm out the window and flashes a few fingers. We pull over to the side of the road and instinctively everyone squishes together. Three more people get on and slide into the newly created space among men, women, children, bags of tall grass, and containers of milk. Now the collectivo is full. Or is it?

We are on our way to Caraz, a town about 62 kilometers north of Huaraz. Once in Caraz we need to find a taxi to drive us up through the Cañon del Pato. Finding a taxi in Caraz proves to be more difficult than we thought. Huaraz is filled with taxis constantly honking horns and speeding around corners, but the streets of Caraz are comparitively empty except for a few mototaxis (3 wheel motor bike taxis) zooming around.

We ask the owners at a cafe to call us a taxi and soon we are on our way up the Cañon del Pato. The mountains that line the canyon are dry and rocky. The Rio Santa flows through the canyon which is formed by the Cordillera Blanca to the East and the Cordillera Negra to the West. We are driving through the canyon to see the hydroelectric plant that provides energy to many cities and towns in the Rio Santa watershed--as far south as the community of Huasta in the Cordillera Huayash. We stop to take pictures of the hydroelectric plant, but can´t go in because visitors are prohibited. The taxi turns around just after the narrowest part of the canyon, which is so narrow that I feel like if I stood in the center and stretched out my arms I could touch both sides of the steep rock walls.

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