A photographic outing, waiting for the Golden hour of late afternoon, took us to the thermal baths of Lares to commemorate the Independence of Peru. It is a custom here to make a small trip within the country to take advantage of the long holiday given to us for the Fiestas Patrias, the national holiday.
People choose among many options given the range of destinations within the vast territory that is Peru. Time is scarce, though. People only have two days in which to do a short trip, the 28th and 29th are holidays. However people who work for the Peruvian state have more days free and they carry off longer trips. This whole week is a holiday for state employees.
The demand for travel grows this time of year. The prices of tickets on buses and such go up. They even double. Even so many people decide to travel.
People in the Imperial City of Cusco have among their options the tourist destination of our Department. There is the Sacred Valley of the Incas, Santa Teresa, La Raya, Sicuani, and the thermal baths of Lares. These are some of the preferred places to visit. People love, especially, the visit the hot springs and baths in various places, since the season is one of cold. They also are said to have many benefits such as curing muscle aches, rheumatism, and decalcification of the bones. These are why people keep coming back this time of year.
My friends Walter, Fernando and I decided to go to Lares yesterday in search of colorful skies and the living nature of the Andes. We left Cusco and first went to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. We went through Pisaq and it was filled with a festive atmosphere. For them it was the eighth day of the feast of the Virgin of Mount Carmel. All along our route you could sense this feast as well as the National Days. From there we went on to Calca and then the pass of Lares.
As we climbed up the mountains the road got narrower. Towns and communities were much smaller. Adobe houses with straw roofs seemed like mirages. By them were corrals enclosed in stone and mud. We saw another reality. Here people dedicate themselves to agriculture and animal husbandry. They grow potatoes, corn, quinoa, and fava beans. Some families have their flocks and raise llamas, alpacas, sheep, and cattle. Life is hard at high altitude. The weather is harsh and people must adapt in order to live well.
Along the road we could see small shepherds following their animals. Farmers would also offer their products for sale along the roadway. The route is sinuous but the nature we saw filled us with pleasure. We were not in a hurry and could just enjoy the road. We counted on the protection of the Apus, the mountains who were watching us all the time and guided us on our way.
At nightfall we arrived at Lares. You find there a small town but one that is well prepared for tourism. They even have hostals where you can stay and restaurants offering you food. This time of year large numbers of people go to Lares.
We went to the thermal baths. When we got there we found no place to park. Every place was full. People just wanted to submerge themselves in the warm water. By the pools you could see a paradise. The pools were filled with people dressed in swimming suits. Flowers, trees, and vegetation in general decorate the place.
Colorful tents were everywhere it seemed under a rain of stars and a bright moon. This all harmonized the moment. Still, a chilly breeze made us hurry to get in the water. Within the pools everyone was relaxed in the warm water. They were enjoying the spectacle of early night, the sound of the breeze, the insect, the water, and the natural aroma of the place. These all became more intense when we entered the pools and soon we too felt in paradise.
We stayed until 1 AM. Now invigorated and warm we returned to the small town and sleep charged us its bill. We decided to stay in a hostal to pass the night. The townsmen are humble and they always make you feel welcome.
The next morning, satisfied with our experience and recharged with energy we were ready to return to our much-loved city of Cusco. Along the way we stopped a few times for the beauty of nature, its ponds and snowy mountains, sun’s rays, as well as fresh air.
These are all moments that mark you when you go to the Paradise of Lares.