Here we are in Cajamarca, Peru, a city of 160,000 at an elevation of 2700 meters. As we bussed up from sea level, it took a couple of days to acclimate but all is well now. We arrived one week before the beginning of Carnivale, but by all the commotion in and above the streets one would think we were full on into it. Balloons and buckets of water are lobbed at unsuspecting folks merely walking along minding their own business! Mojado or wet is what most of us experience on our walks around town. Impish faces of children together with testosterone fuelled young men are ever present.
We hiked up to a small barrio called Santa Apolonia for a most amazing view of the city nestled in the valley surrounded by mountains and the spine of the Andes. A remarkable and awe inspiring vista. Lovers, families and just regular folk all hanging out admiring the view.
Our next adventure was a tour completely in espanol to a place called Cumbe Mayo. This is a magical and mystical pre-inca sight at an elevation of 3600 meters, where an endless series of aquaducts were engineered and built to sustain agriculture and the pueblos of the region. To think that these folks had the vision over a long period of time to engineer and construct these is mind-blowing.
Aside from the amazing environment, it was so fun to be stuffed into a collectivo with 17 Peruanos trying to understand with all our capacity what our guide was sharing. Our guide was so patient and accommodating without being patronizing. He used hand gestures as well as speaking fairly slowly, so in the end we felt we did glean a fair bit of info and were feeling pretty proud of ourselves!
Another most amazing trip was to the Inca baths located 15 minutes outside of town. Thermal springs bubbling up are diverted into private hot tub rooms where you can soak or should I say boil for 20 minutes. The water comes straight from the volcanic spring containing minerals for your health and well being. Needless to say we have been twice already at a cost of $2.40. Life is good!
In between these adventures, we have visited Iglesias, the central mercado, hung out in the central square dodging water bombs & people watching, and dining out in wood fired pizzerias yes pizzerias! The pizzerias are a most entertaining dining experience. Each visit we watched the pizza crust chef squeeze out copious amounts of butter into flour, top it off with a pitcher of water and dig in up to his elbows to create a massive block of dough! In between creating dough, he was busy arranging and rearranging pizzas in the oven. As Cajamarca is cool at nite, we welcomed the warmth from the wood fired oven. And yes, the pizzas were deeeelicious!
I must also mention a most fun afternoon watching Rodrigo explain en espanol what sort of haircut he wanted. There are pictures of this event (see below), and the end result was a VERY short haircut. In fact methinks he will not need another until we return home.
We also found a wonderful profesora who was willing to tutor us at her home. Daisy is about 30 maybe and a bundle of energy. She speaks German (stint overseas), good English and of course Spanish. It makes one feel quite inept! Rod decided to continue his lessons with a local male profesora for more 1:1 and was happy with the outcome.
Both Rod and I contracted some sort of virus that pre-empted much activity the last couple of days of our stay. Mine residing in mi estimago, his in upper respiratory area. So...we both did some reading , sleeping and reading and sleeping. Mañana espero mas mejor!
We are feeling very comfortable here in this city and have made some good connections. It feels like a place we could easily return and contribute to. The people of this city are friendly, warm and always ready to help-even if we don't understand all.
It will be difficult to leave and I am already feeling a little sad.
BUT.....there are more adventures yet to be had, so ...stay tuned.