Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The highlands

From Chiclayo we went to Chachapoyas. Our first ride was with a director of a nearby archeological site, so we were invited to visit it, free of charge. The erroding pyramids of Tucume were impressive in the setting sun. As it was getting dark, the best camping spot we could find was on top of a small unexcavated pyramid, amidst bee hives and very prickly trees.In the morning, a few short rides and then a truck, all the way to Pedro Ruiz. The truck was carrying bags of cement, and us on top of the bags. The scenery was beautiful, but the cement dust got into every crack! We were happy it did not rain!
In Chachapoyas we reunited with Tolik and Lusine, and also met Miryam and Markos on the street, for the second time since Panama!
The main thing to do in Chachapyas is to visit the Kuilap fortress, an archeological site. It´s quite hard to get to, as the three-hour ride bus ride there leves only once a day - at 3 am. Yes, 3 in the morning. We got together with Miryam and Markos and went. We were the first visitors of the day (at 6 in the morning) and the site was closed until 8. So we were invited to have a cup of coca tea at a nearby hut. The archeologists working at the site, happened to take their breakfast in the same hut, so we chatted with them and they invited us to visit their excavations later. There, we saw skeletons of an ancient sacrifice! Bones sticking out of the earth and workers brushing dust away with tooth brushes and syringes... Impressive. The whole site is little excavated, and there´s a lot more work for the few people who work there. When it is all finished (and getting there becomes easier), we were told that some day it may rival Machu Picchu itself!Our next stop was Cajamarka, and the road there is the scarriest (and most beautiful) we have ever seen. It is a narrow dirt road that winds its way through the mountain ranges, then plunges down to the river and then climbs up again. Oftentimes when you look out of the window, you see nothing but the valley a few kilometers down. There are lots of blind turns and the drivers honk to warn the oncoming traffic. There is not a lot of cars on this road, but if there is an oncoming one, you usually meet it just around the bend.
In Cajamarka we hanged out with Miryam and Markos again, and headed out in the morning. A trucker with his young family picked us up and we stayed with them for two days until Trujillo. Another dusty low-rise desert town, we will check out the pyramids and go to the mountains, to Huaraz.

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