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As I mentioned in the below entry, I agreed to join in on a trip to Lares, a small town situated a ways away, deep in the mountains, with natural hot springs. The idea intrigued me, but I wasn’t sure. Something about just saying “yes” in a moment of passing rather than having some details to work with, I suppose. But I did it anyway. Before I left the previously mentioned gathering for the festival, I put down my official “yes”

After the festival and a bit of recuperating, the day was upon me. Bag was packed, I said goodbye to the brother and made my way to the house we were meeting.

Inside, travel bags littered the floor with a sense of exciting foreshadowing. My original idea of a small group consisting of maybe 4-5 people was far off. The group was now twelve strong.

More and more people trickled in until the group had arrived in its entirety, familiar and brilliant faces all around! I knew the majority of the group, though there were a few I’ve seen but hadn’t really engaged further than the usual “hello”. This would be a perfect opportunity to expand my knowledge of the denizens within this community.

Outside our bus awaited and as the group signaled, “ready” the driver started loading our things into the back.

With a quick (but hilarious, due to an explanation of how queuing takes place in India) stop in town, we were off!

The destination was about 2 ½ hours away, and with my love for long car rides and the promise of a stunning landscape that accompanied the drive, I was extremely eager to get going.

Village to village, town to town, we traversed the areas until the pavement dropped off and we began the mountainous climb.

The landscapes and weather appeared and warped into one another quite steadily. It reminded me of my hike in New Zealand, scaling Mt. Tongariro, where the sceneries, even though seemingly foreign to one another, still found a place among the mountains. Running water, hot sun and sweating temperatures, followed by snow and scarce vegetation. Grass turned to stone, water turned to ice. Thick greenery turned to a moor like landscape I would equate on par with my mental assumption of what Ireland might look like.

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I found myself in awe for most of the trek. The mountains I had been admiring from a far since I got here, were now RIGHT in front of me. Above and below, the earthly stimulus had me entranced; the rock formations, the rivers and running waters, the alpaca, the wild horses and the obviously hardened humans who made their home in these passes.

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Repeat that over and over for about 2 hours and you’ll have a glimpse of what the drive up was all about for me.

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Once we made it to town, and after a damn good stretch, the group set out to find some much needed foodening. Half went vegetarian, while the other half (my half) went for some trout in this tiny house of a restaurant.

From here our destination was only about 15minutes away. Soon we’d find ourselves at a dead end for the van, only an archway and a footpath remained. A quick unpack and in we went!

The small path hugged the side of the mountain, weaving and twisting, until it opened before me into what seemed like an oasis in an unlikely elevation. Complete with grass, flowers, and natural hot springs. We had arrived!

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Two bungalows awaited us since we were staying until the next afternoon. The group split once more to situate the rooms and get changed, then onward to the pools!

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There must be a god, because hot water is his greatest invention. With the haste of not having a HOT shower for a couple days (the electric showerhead broke where I’m staying), I jumped in without delay. The initial rush, the overwhelming heat, the scalding skin, the shortness of breath, this is what I’m after. My indulgence and ever growing passion toward hot water had been fulfilled. And how satisfying it was!

The group fragmented shortly afterward as we started to explore and settle in. I stayed in my pool, floating, watching the sun go down and anxiously awaiting the stars.

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After hours of soaking (and the realization that we were all pretty hungry), we reconvened at the room for a picnic on the bed. We didn’t have a table, plates or very many forks, but we made it work!

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Steamed and now full with food, I called it a night. Some headed back down to the pools; I decided to drift off to the sound of the expertly played guitar.

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Morning came and I took it rather slow. I was the last into the pools, but it hardly mattered since we were in again for another handful of hours. Took a break, shared some fruit and meditation, indulged in some sun (and got sunburned -.- ) and worked on conversing with each member of the group. I wish it came naturally, but I still find myself struggling at times. I haven’t quite found my comfortable silence out here either.

The day went on until we realized we were supposed to be out of there by noon. It was about 3pm when we got the memo. Oops.

Packed up, back to the bus, and onward to town we went. We stopped at the market to get some provisions for the ride back, and some honey from a man that had a reputation for some of the best honey products in the area. I didn’t try any, but I did snag the last bottle of honey mead as a gift for our lovely gypsy girl.

2 ½ hours back through the gauntlet of narrow mountain roads and 110% death drop offs. Apparently on the way up, a large portion of the landscape was covered in clouds. This time? Clear blue skies all the way home. I was looking at the same snowcapped mountain, but adding in the cloud cover from the day before, it seemed as though I had only viewed a tiny fraction of the overall picture. Now with the mist removed, the massive, ancient stone presented itself in all of its brutal and regal glory. Gazing up at this…colossus, this hulking beast of impenetrability and timelessness… was truly staggering.

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Thankfully someone had to pee and I managed to jump out and take a picture with the monstrosity of pure power and stone. Sure I broke one of my cardinal rules of picture taking, just standing in front of the desired focal point and looking like a derp, but ah well, I love it anyway.

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The rest of the trek was just as beautiful. Especially the part where the van startled an alpaca, and it tried to run too fast for its legs and it face planted into the grass. Not quite beautiful, but terribly cute AND hilarious at the same time.

By the time we reached the bottom of the valley, the sun had long since disappeared, and with it the rest of my energy. The familiar lights and sights of the town were getting closer and closer until our bus eventually came to its final stop. The group hugged its way to a conclusion and we disappeared into twilight. Yet again, I find myself having an extraordinary time during a venture I was previously hesitant about.

From now on I’m just gonna say “yes” to everything.

Bring on the bad decisions!!

Fun Fact – I ran into, for the SECOND time, a girl I flew into Peru with about a month ago. (Reminiscent of the Steve run-in in New Zealand, on top of a volcano, ten hours away.) I thought it was her but I wasn’t completely sure until she spotted me from across the pools and cocked her head to the left, mine to the right, in a puzzlement of recognition. Lovely, lovely girl.

-Steam, soak, swim and visit the hot springs of Lares

 -Eat dinner off of a bed, with twelve friends

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