Journey to the Jungle

Oh my, have Mike and I been busy! What a contrast to our lazy Huanchaco days… I have a lot to share, so I’ll start where we last left off.

After leaving Huanchaco and stashing our bikes in Trujillo, Mike and I caught a bus up the coast to Chiclayo. You may remember this town from a brief mention earlier, since we biked out of it on our way south a few months ago. We decided to go there again so that a) we could visit some of its sites, and b) we could break up what we knew would be a loooong trip into the jungle. The bus ride took about 4 hours, and we ended up spending about 2 days in Chiclayo.

The first day was almost entirely wasted in our efforts to renew our passports for another month. Having used up our initial 90 days, we opted to visit an officina de migraciones rather than to cross and re-cross a border hundreds of kilometers away. The system for renewing a passport is truly ridiculous, however. Upon expressing our desire to have our passports restamped, the migracion officer gave us a slip of paper with several document numbers on it and told us to take a cab across town to the National Bank. Evidently, the system is so corrupt that the officers are not allowed to handle money. After visiting the bank, collecting our receipts, and returning to the office, we were told we needed to make copies of multiple documents. Of course, this office, which processes hundreds of official requests a day (not all for passport stamps), does not possess a copy machine. We had to exit the office again, walk down the block to where a woman was running a copying racket through her front gate, obtain our copies, and return once more. After about 20 more minutes of waiting we were finally stamped and ready to go. Needless to say, I’m not looking forward to a similar experience in another month.

The rest of our experience in Chiclayo was pleasant, however. After the passport ordeal, we wandered over to the market, which was rumored to have a significant section devoted to the products of the brujos (witches, shamans, whatever). We found a few odd tonics and some random animal pieces, but I was a bit disappointed. It wasn’t as mysterious and creepy as it sounded.

An assortment of odd tonics are pictured here.

No, I don’t know what it is; no, it’s not alive; no, I’m not sure what you’d use it for.

Here are some less-interesting brujo ingredients.

Although these look like they belong in the brujo section, they were actually prominently featured in the fish section of the market. We asked what they were and were told that they went into cebiche. I’m not sure if I buy that story, because my cebiche tasted a lot better than this thing looks!

The following day we visited a very nice museum dedicated to the Lord of Sipán and the Moche culture, which was present in the area several hundred years earlier. Most of the artifacts were recovered from tombs and consist of pottery and lots of gold and silver. There were some fabulous headresses and nose piercings and owl necklaces. Since photos were forbidden in the museum, here’s the link to the official web site: Museo Tumbas Reales Sipan. The site is in Spanish, but that won’t prevent you from seeing a few pictures of the artifacts at the museum.

I know it looks like it tipped over, but I assure you, everything was in place inside. To tell the truth, I was a little bummed. Had an earthquake caused this damage I would have been walking out of the museum with lots of gold jewelry!

But seriously…it really was a fabulously laid-out, modern museum.

After visiting the museum, we hopped aboard a bus for what we were told was a 12-14 hour bus ride. 18 hours later we made it to Tarapoto. Them Andes mountains are tough to get over! The delay was caused by yet another road blockage (landslide, protests, accident, who the hell knows). Peru has perhaps the most ridiculous road system ever. There are very few roads that cross the mountains, and there are absolutely no side routes, detours, or backroads. If something happens to halt traffic, it stays right where it is until that something has been taken care of. There’s no turning back on those steep mountain roads, either. Luckily, whatever was holding us up only took about 4 hours to clear. Our time in Tarapoto was mostly spent recovering…not that we stayed there long.

The next day we took a car ride to Yurimaguas. Apparently none of the bus companies are operating that route at the moment since there’s a lot of construction en route, but we were kindly directed to a company that shuttles people via cars between the cities — kind of like a carpool. For once our guidebook was wrong in our favor: most of this road is now paved, and the ride took only about 4 hours rather than the 6-8 our book warned of. Woo-hoo!

Now, I am dying to tell you about our two-day boat ride down the Amazon and our first couple of days in Iquitos, but Mike just hasn’t gotten around to prepping the photos yet. And trust me, you’ll want to see the photos. Guess you’ll just have to come back for more a bit later.

In the meantime, I’ve prepared a new trivia question for you!! I know it’s been a while, but now that we’re on the move, I intend to revitalize this awesome Blogger feature. Don’t forget to cast your vote!

3 Responses to “Journey to the Jungle”
  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow! What long bus rides! Hope they are better buses than we have seen in past pictures. Is it possible to nap in them–and do you have bathroom facilities. I don’t envy you those trips! Do you carry all your stuff on those trips, or do you have to return from wherever you left from to get them? Just a few things I think about when I read about all your your adventures. Keep all those tales and pictures coming. That one picture of that animal hanging on a wall, looked like an anteater to me. Keep well and safe! Love Gma

  2. Anonymous says:

    YAY!! A new blog! And I’m so excited to be seeing more. Sounds like it’s been pretty good so far, since you returned to ‘the road’. Take Care! Love, Ma

  3. Anonymous says:

    Sweet pics and great descriptions of your travels! Rachel

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