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Peru: Trips in the North

November 30, 2010

Descending the Cairo Side a novel of the traveling life

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I used to travel a lot in northern Peru, specifically in Amazonas Department and around the area near Cajamarca.  These areas are rich with history.  The Chachapoya culture once held sway near the capital of Amazonas, the current city of Chachapoyas, which is one of Peru’s oldest post-conquest settlements.

1) Old-style new house near Cajamarca

These are hardscrabble regions, desperately poor yet whose people are warm and outgoing.  The climate varies from arid to extra-wet, depending on the mountains and rain shadows.  Peru has an astonishing number of micro-climates and the north-central districts are no exception.

We often journeyed in four wheel drive vehicles, free to stop and check out odd sites.

2) Locals  say this rock holds the face of Jesus; it’s hard to distinguish

The Peruvians enjoy strangely shaped stones and boulders as do I.  The thought that rocks contain spirits is a pleasant and logical one.

3) Another one whose significance now escapes me

Wherever we went the landscape was impressive.

4) The  Marañón Canyon between Celedín and Leimebamba

Dropping into the Marañón was the automotive equivalent of surfing Waimea Bay in Hawaii.  Bottomless drop-offs for days.

5) At the bottom of the Marañón

6) Bridge across the river

The town at the bottom of the canyon had a sub-tropical climate, completely unlike that of the plateau above.  The place had an air of hopelessness to it, probably because of the hot, muggy atmosphere and its claustrophobic location.

Leimebamba, on the other hand, is a nice place with an agreeable climate. It’s recommended to stay out of the bars there.  Once we experienced a minor temblór while drinking beers in a small cantina.

7) Leimebamba

8) The town’s main plaza with Peruvian flag

9) Peruvian kitsch; another view of the plaza, this time after a rain shower

Leimebamba does have an interesting museum with mummies from Chachapoyan ruins.  They were on the creepy side and  I never did like looking at dead bodies, regardless of provenance.

All in all we had more fun stopping in random villages and saying hello, sometimes to people and sometimes to light posts.

10)  A chance encounter with a power pole

Occasionally our encounters reminded us of mortality; Peruvians are not noted for their driving abilities.  We saw this wreck on a straight, flat road that followed the Utcubamba River.

11) A big oops here

We never did know what we’d find around the next corner.

12) my travel companion, John Melton

Sometimes it’s better just to get out of the car and stare at the rocks

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