Realizing that we had only one more weekend in Huanchaco, Mike and I decided to take a quick weekend trip into the highlands (relatively) nearby. Our destination? Cajamarca. This city is well known for its Carnival celebrations (which we missed) and its dairy products.

I say relatively nearby because although Cajamarca is only 295 kilometers from Trujillo the bus ride takes at least 7 hours. The road pretty much winds straight up into the mountains. We were a bit unlucky on the way there as well. First we found out that our bus had been downgraded to a crappier, less comfortable model. Then, later into the ride we were stopped for over an hour while road crews attempted to clean a landslide from earlier in the week. The ride to Cajamarca took about 9 hours. Bleh. Oh, also we were finger-printed before getting onto the bus. Apparently that’s normal in Peru.

Our first day in Cajamarca was quite lovely, though. We took a tour to Cumbe Mayo, which features millenia-old aqueducts built by pre-Inca peoples. The aqueducts are nice, but the scenery, the locals, and the rock carvings are cooler. Our tour was in Spanish, but I think we did a good job of understanding most of what was said.

Here’s a photo of an aqueduct. Our guidebook says that Cumbe Mayo is “derived from the Quechua kumpi mayo, which means ‘well-made water channel.'”

This was our initial view of the Cumbe Mayo area. After a few quick facts, we were guided through a pitch-black tunnel in these rocks.

Everything was so green (probably due to all the rain).

This nice mountain stream looks like something out of a fairy tale.

I didn’t realize how much I liked the highlands until we’d spent a good deal of time on the coast.

These highlanders pretty much live in the middle of a tourist attraction.

Because they live in the middle of the tourist attraction, they sell everything from cold beer to llama hats in front of their home.

The kids are pretty cute in their traditional garb…

…until they start begging for tips. “Una propina, unaaa propiiinaaa.” They have very plaintive voices, and they drag out the words as much as possible. Since Mike took so many pictures, he did tip them.

This kid seemed a bit peeved to find himself the object of so much attention. Most of the tourists are rich families from Lima, and they seem to think that this lifestyle is so quaint.

Mike took about a billion pictures of this golden sheep.

This one’s my favorite. Awww…

This old-school photo looks like it could have been taken centuries ago.

This is the only carving we have a photo of, thought there were a few other neat ones. I think the guide said that this is supposed to be a map of sorts.

Our other big excursion while in Cajamarca was to Los Baños del Inca. These natural hot springs were once used by the Inca king Atahualpa. Now they’re a steamy paradise. In addition to walking the grounds taking pictures, Mike and I indulged ourselves by renting our own private hot spring bath for an hour. Very relaxing.

A steamy paradise.

I like how the tree frames this photo.

Here’s another photo of the hot springs. The water is 78 degrees celsius. I don’t know what that is in Fahrenheit, but it’s damn hot. The natural springs have to be mixed with cool mountain water before anyone takes a dip.

The grounds of the Baños were nicely decorated with flowers and creative bushes.

In addition to our Cumbe Mayo tour and our trip to the Baños del Inca, Mike and I roamed the city. We had a few extra days to do so, it turned out. When we went to board our bus on Monday, the company told us that there would be no buses leaving until Wednesday. Yay, an extended weekend.

Here’s a view of the city from a hill above it.

The plaza in Cajamarca is colonial and similar to Trujillo’s, though not quite as colorful.

Mike was disappointed that this fountain wasn’t working.

Well, that’s it for photos of Cajamarca. The trip was nice despite the exceedingly long bus ride. My only gripe is that I picked up a horrible cold because of all the rainy weather. Mike’s not complaining though — I lost my voice.

We’re all moved out of our apartment now, and hopefully we’ll be on our way to the jungle by tomorrow afternoon. Since it’s such a long trip we’ll be breaking it up with a few stops on the way, but we’ll be posting pics and stories the whole time.

Can you believe it’s March already??

One Response to “Cajamarca”
  1. Deb says:

    I’m loving those photos! Especially the sheep.

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