Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.






Peru: Day 7

by Kathy 20. November 2009 16:15

<< Day 6:To Pampas, So Close and Yet So Far | Day 8: To Celendín, Fiestas Galore >>

 

To Cajamarca, The Guessing Game

 

We woke up in the small town of Pampas, nestled high in Andes Mountains.  We wound up here by chance, and had met some wonderful people who had welcomed us with genuine smiles and warmth. 

One of the special people we had encountered was the owner of our hostel, Nelly Robles-Sanchez.  She was a tiny person, with a radiant personality and exuberant spirit. 

Last night, Nelly had said that the hostel doesn’t usually provide breakfast for guests, but she would make an exception for us. This morning, she and her husband presented us with generous servings of bread and fresh cheese, along with coffee and milk.

We invited Guy to join us for breakfast, as his hostel didn't offer food or coffee.  By the time he finally arrived, Ben and I were almost finished.

Guy had been busy dealing with a flat tire this morning. We had stored the bikes overnight in a secure courtyard several blocks away. When Guy checked on the bikes earlier today, he had discovered that his rear tire was completely flat.  However, he wasn't concerned.  He said that sometimes "tires just go flat" for no particular reason.  Ben and I looked at each other--that had never been our experience.  Guy said that he had gotten the local tire shop to pump the tire full of air to see if the air pressure diminished at all during breakfast.  (It did, so Guy had the tube replaced by the tire shop before we left.)

Ben realized this morning that he had accidentally left his camera charger plugged into the electrical outlet at the first hostel.  He ran off to retrieve it.  He soon discovered that our room had been re-rented shortly after our departure last night, and the current guest was not there when Ben knocked on the door. When Ben finally recovered the charger later this morning, the hostel owner demanded an additional sole (about 30 cents) for the use of her electricity overnight. Ben gave her the money without protesting.

While I was savoring my second cup of coffee, Guy barely looked at me and made no effort to engage me in conversation. He picked up his bread and then tossed it back down with a look of irritation when he discovered there was no jam.  The silence between us seemed to have an oppressive life of its own.  I tried my best to lighten things up with small talk, but it was painful.

A view looking down the road from the hostel:

Directly in front of the hostel door was a black pick-up truck that was being decorated with balloons for a parade later that day:

Beyond the truck were several rows of fresh adobe bricks laid out to dry in the sun.

Two small boys were across the street, and I started chatting with them. They were very sweet.

I didn’t have any more stickers or post cards to give away, so I dug into my energy bar stash and found a family-friendly bar that I give my own kids as a snack at home. The boys sat on a bench and munched quietly.

Ben and I took a stroll up this hill to get our bikes from the secure courtyard:

We bought water for our camelbacks at the small market located on the ground floor of our first hostel:

To the right of the market (in front of the bikes) sat a group of older women. I greeted them, and we had a long and funny conversation on the topic of women riding on motorcycles (they all thought that it was a grand idea, but they had never operated a bike themselves).

Guy told us that he had asked some of the townspeople about the route to Cajamarca. He said that we needed to return the way we had come and go through Mollepata, instead of taking the jagged red line that looked like a “shortcut” on our map.

A view as we traveled back down to the river from Pampas:

Traversing the mountain—can you find the bike?

A closer shot:

Climbing up to Mollepata, we had a great view of the switchbacks that we had covered yesterday on our way from the town of Pallasca:

Another view of the switchbacks, showing the top of the mountain, with more switchbacks along the upper left side:

Some houses along the way:



We passed by a fire that still had some orange flames flickering next to the road, and we also had to be alert for different kinds of animal life in front of us. We skirted around donkeys, pigs, sheep, cows, goats, and dogs.

A view back down at the road we had just climbed:

We stopped briefly in the town of Mollepata.

Next to the main plaza, people were loading into the back of a big truck—this was the local “bus”.

We would pass numerous of these trucks, all stuffed with people, throughout northern Peru.

As I was sitting on my bike, a young Peruvian man came up and started talking to me in excellent English. He explained that he was studying at the Language Institute in Peru so that he could teach other people to speak foreign languages. Several other people came over to listen to our conversation. The truck was leaving, however, so they quickly said goodbye and ran over to climb into the back.

Some views after leaving Mollepata:



This bridge that we crossed looked like it could use some structural reinforcement:

The soil in the surrounding hills was full of colorful minerals—green, adobe red, orange, white, and grey. These colors would often flow across the road in stripes, as shown in the photo of Ben below:

Cornering was sometimes tricky, as the road had a lot of thick silt that wanted to smother our front tires.

There were two herders stretched out in the grass, while their cows and sheep grazed around them:

In the distance, we could see the grey pilings of a gigantic mine:

Our route would take us right by the mine entrance; however, when we reached the turnoff, we saw that our road was blocked with some green stones and a stretch of pink tape.

Guy rode up to talk with the guards at the entrance booth; then he waved for us to come forward. The guards had said that the regular road was closed due to some blasting work. However, they were escorting private vehicles through the mine to reach the road on the other side. We were welcome to join an escorted crossing that would be leaving in about 15 minutes.

While we were waiting, Ben and I struck up a conversation with one of the guards. We asked if we could take his picture, and he struck a casual pose with his gun.

(I made sure that my legs were behind his loaded rifle barrel, and not beside it, in case there was a discharge.)

Then we noticed a sign that said photography was prohibited. Guy rode up and got out his video camera. As he was panning slowly from one side of the mine to the other, the guard asked him repeatedly to stop videotaping, with increasing verbal intensity and arm gestures. Guy didn’t say anything, or even acknowledge that the guard was talking to him—he just kept the camera rolling. Ben and I were looking at each other with raised eyebrows; we wanted to get through the mine and didn’t want Guy’s conduct to result in a revocation of our escorted crossing offer. I silently vowed that if this happened, Ben and I would try to convince the guards that we were not with Guy, and we would abandon him to whatever consequences he deserved. Thankfully, he stopped filming before things turned ugly.

Our small convoy included a big truck that had been waiting when we arrived, as well as two small mining company trucks. We were escorted on a series of roads through the mine, past huge dump trucks and two large open pits. (We didn’t dare take any photos.)

The view on the other side of the mine:

We passed a herd of vicuña grazing in a field.

Vicuña are high altitude animals (living above 13,000 feet) that are prized for their exceptional fine, and warm, wool.

Against a hillside, we could see small dark holes that were mine entrances:

This small graveyard was located at a “T” junction, far from any towns.


Ben and I stopped to admire the grace of this soaring hawk:

A view across the valley:

We interrupted these sheep drinking from the stream that crossed the road:

(We found that sheep are easily spooked, so Ben and I always crept by them slowly.)

We arrived in the town of Huamachuco around noon. A painted wall proclaimed the town’s commitment to education: “Queremos un pueblo sin alfabetos.” ("We want a town without illiterates.”)

We found the main plaza, where we stopped to have lunch at a chifa (a restaurant that serves a blend of Chinese and Peruvian food).

Ben, at lunch:

The central plaza in Huamachuco had bushes that were sculpted into various shapes:

Looking down the street, off the plaza:

Many of the women were wearing hats with tall crowns and wide brims, which were very different from the bolero style hat (with short brims) found in southern Peru:

After lunch, we stopped at a gas station in town. Next door, some women were sitting on the steps and hand-spinning wool.

The dirt road continued once we left Huamachuco.

We rode through a village where a group of teenage girls held bunches of palm fronds—they seemed to be preparing for a festive event.

We passed by Laguna Sausacocha:

The road wound through some beautiful farming communities:




We passed a neat stack of dried roof tiles:

More countryside views:


When we reached the small city of Cajabamba, the dirt road turned into pavement. Here I am on the main street:

We stopped to discuss our next step. It was late afternoon, and Cajamarca was still about 80 miles away. A guidebook indicated that the route was a dirt road that took about 4 hours by car. Guy wanted to stay the night here in Cajabamba, while Ben wanted to press on to Cajamarca. I voted with Ben. Then a security guard walked over and started talking to us about where we were going; he told us that the road to Cajamarca was paved, not dirt, which meant that our travel time would be significantly reduced. Off we went!

The road twisted downhill into a wide valley:

The valley road had long, fairly straight sections.

This cow moved to the side as we rolled through, but most cows did not.

There were many people walking along the road—no sidewalks.

This couple was herding their cow along the road, riding a donkey—they moved over to the side when they heard my bike:

Riding on a paved road certainly did not mean that we could ride like we were on a freeway. One never knew what would be in the road when coming around the corner. (Let’s guess what it could be! Yikes!) Here are some of the things that I encountered in the middle of my lane during the ride to Cajamarca:

  • donkeys carrying bundles of twigs
  • people on donkeys and horses (sometimes 3 people together)
  • a herd of sheep
  • cows
  • dogs sleeping
  • a mother goose and her babies waddling across
  • large potholes
  • a small river flowing across the road, with big rocks that required delicate maneuvering
  • children playing (many)
  • a truck stopped, selling oranges from the back
  • bricks lined up in a neat row all of the way across
  • a big truck coming at me, trying to pass another big truck on a blind curve
  • a car passing on the double yellow, with no room to spare
  • a huge boulder
  • long stretches of dirt
  • people bicycling slowly
  • a large group of women in colorful skirts and hats, some with babies on their backs

There was always something to grab my attention.

We left the valley floor and started climbing over the last mountain pass before reaching Cajamarca. As always, roadside crosses reminded us to be careful.

We couldn't figure out what these two men were doing:

The view was spectacular:

As the sun set, the mountains looked like they were on fire:

We crested the mountain pass, and rode along a plateau.

A final sunset view:

Darkness enveloped us before we reached Cajamarca. We snaked down the mountain behind a stream of cars and entered the bustling city. The traffic was thick and constant. Guy turned down a few streets looking for a hotel. He finally stopped a taxi and said that he would pay the driver to lead us to a hotel with secure parking for the bikes. We made several turns, and then the driver stopped on a side street next to a large garage door. It was the garage to a very nice hotel, Costa del Sol. The front entrance to the hotel was around the corner, facing the main plaza; however, Guy didn’t understand this and began yelling at the driver that this was not a hotel. The two exchanged many words, with Guy yelling some more. Finally, Guy got off his bike and walked down the street toward the plaza.

As he disappeared around the corner, the garage door went up, and two parking attendants appeared to direct us inside. (Perhaps they were alerted to our presence by all of the shouting?) I didn’t know how much Guy had paid the taxi driver (if anything), so I slipped some money into his hand and thanked him for leading us to a good hotel.

We pulled the bikes into the parking area and started unloading our gear. Guy soon appeared, saying that we would be staying here even though the hotel was “very expensive.” Ben and I had a room with a big queen bed (ahh!) and hot water anytime we wanted (woo hoo!). It was total luxury.

We told Guy that we wanted to be on our own for dinner tonight. The hotel desk clerk (who didn’t speak English) drew us a map on how to get to a wonderful restaurant around the corner. The main plaza was very busy tonight, with lots of people walking about. We joined them, soaking up the energy of the city. Then we had a relaxing, romantic dinner. Everything was perfect.

 

<< Day 6:To Pampas, So Close and Yet So Far | Day 8: To Celendín, Fiestas Galore >>

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Map of Our Journeys

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Our travel map



Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

Bhutan
   Bumthang Valley
   Gom Kora
   Kanglung
   Mongar
   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Thimphu
   Tongsa
   Wangdi Phrodrang

Bolivia
   Caranavi
   Guanay
   Janko Marca
   La Paz
   Laguna Colorada
   Laguna Verde
   Llica
   Potosí
   Queteña
   Rurrenabaque
   Sajama
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
   Santa Rosa
   Sorata
   Sud Lipez
   Tupiza
   World’s Most Dangerous Road

Canada
   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Chetwynd
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Isle-aux-Coudres
   Jasper National Park
   Kluane Lake, YK
   'Ksan Historical Village
   Lake Louise
   Liard Hot Springs
   Montreal
   Niagara Falls
   Ottawa
   Quebec City
   Quesnel
   Thousand Islands
   Toronto
   Vancouver
   Vancouver Island
   Victoria
   Watson Lake
   Whistler
   Whitehorse

China
   Beijing
   Datong
   Forbidden City
   Great Wall at Mutianyu
   Hong Kong
   HuaShan
   Lijiang
   Summer Palace
   Terracotta Warriors
   Tiananmen Square
   Xi’an
   Yangshuo
   Yungang Caves

Costa Rica
   Arenal Volcano
   Finca Corsicana
   Hanging Bridges
   Manuel Antonio
   Poas Volcano
   Proyecto Asis
   Quepos
   Sarchi
   Sky Trek Zip Lining
   Venado Caves
   Zarcero

France
   Paris

Ecuador
   Amazon Rainforest
   Chaquiñan Bicycle Trail
   La Mitad del Mundo
   Napo Wildlife Center
   Papallacta Hot Springs
   Proyecto DCR
   Quito
   Yasuní National Park

India
   Bagdogra
   Darjeeling
   Delhi
   Gawahati
   Jaigaon
   Kalimpong

Mexico
   Baja California
   Crucecita
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Huatulco
   Marietas Islands
   Mazunte
   Mexico City
   Monte Alban
   Oaxaca City
   Patzcuaro
   Puerto Angel
   Puerto Escondido
   Puerto Vallarta
   San Agustin
   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
   Santa María el Tule
   Sayulita
   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
   Teotihuacán
   Teotitlán del Valle
   TzinTzunTzan
   Yagul
   Yelapa

Namibia
   Caprivi
   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Katutura
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
   Mowani Camp
   Ngepi Camp
   Nkasa Lupala
   n'Kwzi Camp
   River Dance Lodge
   Seisfontein
   Seisriem Camp
   Sossusvlie
   Swakopmund
   Treesleeper Camp
   Twyfeltein
   Windhoek

Peru
   Balsas
   Barranca
   Cajabamba
   Cajamarca
   Caraz
   Cañón del Pato
   Celendín
   Cerro de Pasco
   Chachapoyas
   Cusco
   Huamachuco
   Huánico
   Huaraz
   La Oroya
   Leymebamba
   Llanganuco
   Lima
   Machu Picchu
   Moyobamba
   Nuevo Jaén
   Pallasca
   Pampas
   Tápuc
   Tarapoto
   Tarma
   Tingo Maria
   Tocache
   Yungay Memorial

Portugal
   Burgau
   Coimbra
   Evora
   Lisbon
   Marvao
   Nazare
   Obidos
   Portimao
   Sintra
   Sitio

South Africa
   Johannesburg

Spain
   Barcelona
   Bilbao
   Hondarribia
   Madrid
   Montserrat
   Nerja
   Rock of Gibraltar
   Ronda
   Santillana del Mar
   Tolosa
   Zaragoza

United States National Parks
   Arches National Park, UT
   Badlands National Park, SD
   Bandelier National Monument, NM
   Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
   Cahokia Mounds (UNESCO site), IL
   Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
   Canyon de Chelly Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Cape Hatteras National Shoreline, NC
   Capitol Reef National Park, UT
   Civil Rights Memorial, AL
   Death Valley National Park, CA
   Denali National Park, AK
   Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
   El Morro National Monument, NM
   Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
   Glacier National Park, MT
   Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
   Grand Tetons National Park, WY
   Great Basin National Park, NV
   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
   Joshua Tree National Park, CA
   Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Hist. Park, HI
   Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, NM
   King's Canyon National Park, CA
   Martin Luther King Jr. Nat'l Hist. Site, GA
   Mesa Verde National Park, CO
   Montezuma's Castle Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Monticello, VA
   Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD
   Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
   Olympic National Park, WA
   Petrified Wood National Park, AZ
   Pinnacles National Monument, CA
   Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Nat'l Hist Pk, HI
   Pu'ukohola Heiau Nat'l Historic Site, HI
   San Antonio Missions Nat'l Hist. Park, TX
   Tuzigoot National Monument, AZ
   Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ
   Washington Monument
   White Sands National Monument, NM
   Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK
   Wright Brothers National Memorial in NC
   Yellowstone National Park, WY
   Yosemite National Park, CA

United States, Cities and Places
   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
   Alpine Loop in CO
   Anchorage, AK
   Antares Junction, AZ
   Arctic Circle, AK
   Barrel Oak Winery in VA
   Biloxi, MS
   Bottle Tree Farm in CA
   Calico Ghost Town, CA
   Canfield Mountain Trail System, ID
   Cape St. Vincent, NY
   Carson City, NV
   Carter Caves State Park in KY
   Chappie-Shasta OHV Area, CA
   Child's Glacier, AK
   Circle B Chuckwagon Show in SD
   City Museum in MO
   Cody, WY
   Corn Palace in SD
   Crazy Horse Memorial in SD
   Custer State Park, SD
   Dalton Highway, AK
   Dinosaur Tracks in AZ
   Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC
   Dry Falls (Sun Lakes-Dry Falls), WA
   Fairbanks, AK
   Front Royal, VA
   Gallup, NM
   Goffs, CA
   Grand Canyon Caves, AZ
   Grand Canyon Skywalk, AZ
   Grave Digger Monster Truck in NC
   Great Salt Lake, UT
   Hackberry General Store in AZ
   Hannibal, MO
   Hatteras Island, NC
   Hawaii (Big Island)
   Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
   Holbrook, AZ
   Hole in the Rock, UT
   Homer, AK
   Honey Island Swamp Tour in LA
   Hoover Dam, NV
   Hyder, AK
   Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. in AZ
   John’s Peak OHV Area, OR
   Kailua-Kona, HI
   Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in AZ
   Kennecott, AK
   Kennecott Copper Mine in UT
   Kingman, AZ
   Lake Havasu, AZ
   Lake Tahoe, NV
   Las Vegas, NV (winter 2010)
   Little Brown Church in IA
   London Bridge in AZ
   Loneliest Road in America, Hwy. 50, NV
   Los Angeles, CA
   Lost Colony Show on Roanoke Isl., NC
   Lowe’s Speedway in NC
   Mardi Gras World in LA
   Mark Twain Museum in MO
   Meteor Crater, AZ
   Million Dollar Highway, CO
   Minnesota Zoo
   Mitchell, SD
   Moab, UT
   Moab, UT (dirt biking)
   Montgomery, AL
   Montpelier, ID
   Navajo Nation, AZ
   Needles, CA
   Nevada Beach, NV
   Newberry Springs, CA
   New River Gorge, WV
   New Orleans, LA
   Niagara Falls 
   North Pole, AK
   Oatman, AZ
   Old Faithful Geyser in WY
   Omak Stampede, WA
   Painted Desert, AZ
   Park City, UT (summer)
   Plymouth, NC
   Portage Valley, AK
   Portland, OR
   Prospect OHV Trail System, OR
   Resaca, GA
   Riverside State Park, WA
   Rock City in TN
   Rosa Parks Library and Museum in AL
   Roswell, NM
   Russian River, AK
   Salt Lake City, UT
   San Antonio, TX
   San Diego, CA
   San Juan Islands, WA
   San Francisco, CA
   Santa Catalina Island, CA
   Seattle, WA
   Sedona, AZ
   Shoe Tree in CA
   Shoe Tree in NV
   Silverton, CO
   Sonora, TX
   St. Louis, MO
   St. Paul, MN
   Talkeetna, AK
   Telluride, CO
   Route 66
   Twin Knobs Recreation Area in KY
   Virginia Beach, VA
   Washington D.C.
   Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in IL
   Williamsburg, VA
   Winom Frazier OHV Area, OR
   Winslow, AZ
   Zion National Park, UT

Planning Our Adventures

For us, each journey begins with the initial heart pangs to venture to a certain part of the world. Then the ideas start coming together . . . ahh, the possibilities . . . and the dream evolves gradually into an actual plan. But, oh, the joy of the dream!  Click here to learn more about how we plan and prepare for our journeys.

Where Are We Now?

Click here to discover where we are now, as well as our uncoming travel plans.


Words for the Heart

“. . . and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin