Leymebamba, Peru


The road to Chachapoyas was a two-lane asphalt road, and a great ride as it followed the curvy edges of a winding river. We left the river to climb some switchbacks to the town itself and stayed a couple of days. Now when we are ready to leave and move on south, we stop to fill up our fuel tanks for the first time in Peru. There’s a little bit of sticker shock for me after paying between $1.50 and $2.00 per gallon in Ecuador. This morning we pay 75 soles (about $28) for just under 5 gallons of gas for the two bikes. That’s over $5 per gallon….ouch.
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We ride back down from town to the main highway and find it is no longer a two-lane road, but is instead a little wider than a single-lane road of asphalt. It has to handle both lanes of traffic, around river bends, blind corners, etc. with no shoulders to pull off to if you meet something….so everyone honks horns a lot here to be sure everyone knows they are coming down the road.
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Really, it’s a pretty easy day – fast, asphalt, only riding 50-60 miles, and its dry all but the last 10 miles or so. And it gives me some peace of mind to come upon a truck painted with “Guardian Angel” on this road….I will take that as a good sign.
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In places the road edge is falling away and in places it’s already less than a full lane wide anyway….I see lots of hand-pull carts to carry people and goods over the river to their small farms on the other side. And we pass through a couple of small villages.
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You never know what you will see on the roads…and today I see a fluffed up turkey in all his glory either picking a fight or trying to impress some young chick (pun intended).
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I had expected the pavement to end at Chachapoyas, so was pleasantly surprised to see it was still pavement on to Leymebamba. But we have no idea what to expect from then on, and I think it’s likely to be slow-going and probably dirt. Our 50-60 miles today still takes a couple of hours and we average something like 25 mph on paved roads in this part of the world. We are even slower on dirt and gravel. We get to Leymebamba in time for a late lunch and settle our bikes into a small alcove of the hostel…just in the corner of the courtyard.
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There are so many ruins, waterfalls, villages and other things to see around here that I’m sure I could stay busy for a week. Near Leymebamba is a small lake, the Laguna of the Condores. And near here and in other places in the surrounding valleys, caves and man-made mausoleums have been found filled mummified human remains. What originally were thought to be statues, were found to be filled with folded bodies and many of them are now housed in a local museum. So off we go this afternoon to take a look-see.
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The intricately woven baskets, rugs and cloths are beautiful. And there are collars/necklaces made with finely woven threads…so beautiful.
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The museum is so well done, and filled with incredible local artifacts. So worth a visit. We wander through and finally come to the area where the mummies are kept. Some were found in colorful painted statues and others were found inside tied wooden slats. Haunting…
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