Pete Perusing Perú

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I was woken up at silly o´clock this morning by a noisy neighbour. Unable to get back to sleep, I decided to have a pictorial review of life in Perú over the last 3 months. I have selected a few of my favourite photos.

Chiclayo

I have rather mixed feelings about Chiclayo so far. The bus ride from Cajamarca was uneventful so we arrived in the early evening. As was expected, there were taxi drivers inside the bus depot touting for trade and trying to coax people into going to hotels different from those they had booked. This is quite common here but I had already paid 25% deposit on my hotel reservation so was not going to be tempted elsewhere.DSCN1880I also have no desire to ride in one of the very small “Tico” cabs, which are the next size up from a child’s pedal car with approximately the same leg room. Still inside the bus terminal, I asked the driver if his cab was spacious and he assured me it was and we negotiated the fare. That is normal throughout the country, fares are not regulated and there are no meters. I had, however, not asked him about the overall condition of his cab, or indeed, if he could drive it competently.

The taxi had certainly been in a few scrapes but it was only a short distance to the hotel, so I thought I would chance it. Before leaving Cajamarca, I had taken advantage of Google Earth and “walked” the journey from the bus station to my hotel. It was just as well because in spite of his assertions earlier, the driver had no idea and I had to direct him. “Have you been here before?” he asked. “No” I replied, ” you are supposed to be the one with the local knowledge”.

It was soon apparent as to how his vehicle had become so battle scarred. He was a very bad driver, as are so many people here. Thankfully the journey was short and soon over, although at one point he did say that the journey was longer than he thought and should be a different tariff. I reminded him that there are no actual tariffs and that we negotiated a price at the start of the journey. He accepted this and left to go in search of another potential victim.

On entering the hotel, I was not surprised that they were not expecting me, in spite of the advanced booking and deposit and 2 emails updating them on my estimated time of arrival. I was not expecting the red carpet treatment, just the room I had reserved. Fortunately, they had a spare room with three beds in which they assured me would be just for me and just for the one night. I was happily relocated the next day.

The hotel staff are friendly and helpful, with the receptionist even walking me to a nearby restaurant which she recommended. Also, giving advice and directions for local sites of interest. Perhaps Chiclayo was going to be as friendly as advertised.

Not quite. I went out for a run early on Sunday morning and was attacked by two dogs. One tried to bite my leg and I am sorry to say I had to give him a severe bang on the ear to deter him. That was sufficient for him to lose interest and although the other one made a lot of noise, he kept a safe distance from me.

Not long after that, a taxi jumped a red light and almost ran me over. It was right next to a police station with two officers standing outside. I commented as I passed about the idiocy of Peruvian drivers and I heard them chuckling as I turned the next corner.  I ran for a little over 6kms, which I was happy with, as I have only run a few times since arriving in Peru. I have put in a lot of walking though.DSCN1875

At lunch time I decided to visit the Plaza de Armas and have general look around. It was quite busy, as was the Mercado Modelo.

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The market is huge and just seems to go on and on.

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The owner of this fruit stall advised me to put my camera (ipod) in my pocket or keep a firm grip on it as it could well be stolen otherwise.

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I was kept amuse for a while by the antics of this taxi driver and his fare, trying to fit two big boxes of sound equipment into the cab…

DSCN1892….eventually deciding to tie it on the roof. I could not bear to watch any longer.

Cerro Santa Apolonia

As it was my last full day in Cajamarca, I wanted to make the most of it. It was a nice day with lots of sunshine so I decided to go up to the top of Cerro Santa Aplonia. I had previously gone about half way and taken a few photos but as it was crowded, decided to abandon the trip. As luck would have it, yesterday it was almost deserted.

Cerro Santa Apolonia, was where the Inca emperor Atahualpa had a “throne” and from where he surveyed his army and people.

??????????????Very quiet.

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DSCN1820With amazing views.

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????????????????????I had thought that this was the top but there is a small plateau further up which has a pleasant garden area. Entry about 25p.

????????????Was this some sort of sentry box? It is very small.

????????????The emperor´s throne, allegedly.

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This cactus looks older and more weary than me.

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Los Baños del Inca

Yesterday I went to the thermal springs known as Los Baños del Inca, Cajamarca. They were famously used by the Inca emperor Atahualpa just before he was captured by the Spanish.

If it was good enough for him, it is good enough for me. It is only a few kilometeres outside of the city of Cajamarca and the taxi fare from the city centre was acceptable, about £2.50 each way.

DSCN1786Where is the water? This can’t be right.

DSCN1775Aah. A modern version. The water looks a bit murky though…

DSCN1779…and a bit hot. Unless that’s piranhas bubbling under the surface.

DSCN1776I am definitely not getting in there.

IMG_0269My private thermal bath. It was luxurious. The water from the thermal spring is at 71°C so needed some cold water added for personal comfort.

DSCN1782There is also an information centre, which has a few artifacts and a photographic exhibition of almost everything of interest in the Cajamarca area. I was shown around by José who patiently explained things to me. Fortunately for me, he did not speak as rapidly as most of the local people.

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Colpa and Cascades

On Monday, I went to Colpa, which used to be a successful farm and now appears to be a successful tourist attraction.DSCN1666It has an artificial lake, complete with artificial islands.

DSCN1691As we arrived, the storm clouds were gathering and it was not long before we were heading for the shelter….

DSCN1677… of the hacienda, as the torrential rain began.

DSCN1676After the downpour subsided, we looked at the farm’s little church….

DSCN1686…which had some nice stained glass windows but not much else.

The farm does have a party trick involving its cows, whereby each one is called by name to go to its individual feeding stall. It is quite clever but I don’t want to get carried away.  The farm, like many others in the area produces a wide range of dairy related foods and drinks.

From the farm we moved off towards our next destination, waterfalls. This involved some walking….

DSCN1694and some balancing to cross a couple of small rivers.

DSCN1702It must have been at least a kilometre walk in each direction but it was worth it.

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Granja Porcón

On Saturday, I joined a tour to Granja Porcón, a farming cooperative situated in a dense pine forest about 30 km north-east of the city of Cajamarca. Apart from day visits, the farm offers hands on farm experience and activity holidays.

DSCN1556On the way there we stopped at  a stone-masonry to see some local artisans and their work. I was intrigued by the dump trucks and felt a little nostalgic. I resisted the urge to buy one as they weighed more than 1Kg each. Nevertheless, they were well made.

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View on arrival at the farm.

DSCN1579I was lucky to see this bird flying in the distance.

DSCN1580I was even luckier when it turned and flew towards me.

DSCN1597There is also a collection of animals and birds, unrelated to farming.

DSCN1621This pond reminds me of a certain politician’s expense claims.

DSCN1614I felt for a moment as if I was back in the workplace. Ignored and irrelevant.

DSCN1635A pride of lions……

DSCN1654….and a proud peacock.

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Ventanillas de Otuzco

On Friday, after a light lunch in El Zarco restaurant in Cajamarca, I joined a tour to visit the ventanillas de Otuzco. An ancient burial site where the graves are actually set in the cliff face and shaped like windows. Ventanilla deriving from, ventana, the Spanish word for window.

However, I did not realise that first we were going to visit a dairy and then a botanical garden. The dairy, Fundo Los Alpes, produces a great variety of products, some of which we sampled. The dairy has a Swiss owner, hence the name.

I use to eat lots of cheese but am unable to do so these days, so my attention wandered to the outdoors and the ever darkening sky.

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May till October is the dry season in the Northern Highlands of Perú but can be unpredictable.

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After the dairy, there was another stop at a botanical garden but I felt as if we may not have seen the best of it.

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Finally arriving at the ventanillas at the same time as the heavy rain commenced.

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The ventanillas have varying depths. Some single occupancy and others multiple. Much like a backpacker´s hostel.

Arriving back at the Plaza de Armas, as the rain had stopped, I decided on an early dinner.

After dinner, before going back to my hotel, I decide to try photographing some illuminated structures.

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This was about the 10 th attempt at this one but it was more than 500 metres away and up a lot of steps.I was not prepared to make the climb just after dinner.

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The cathedral, in the Plaza de Armas.

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