Cajamarca, Peru


We spend two nights in Cajamarca and try to make the most of it by seeing some of the town and the surrounding area.  It’s a lovely high mountain city surrounded by small villages and centuries of history. As with most towns in Peru, the hub of activity is at Plaza des Armas.
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The giant plaza is surrounded by colonial style buildings housing tour companies and tiendas….and there are a couple of large churches here as well, including San Francisco.
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The indigenous people of the mountain villages near here where tall crowned straw hats. And the woman carry packs on their backs made of brightly colored woven cloths.
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The local costumes are beautiful and ever-changing along the Andes. Some women wear felt fedoras and others wear these straw hats, or something else. I must see a dozen different kinds of hats between the southern border of Colombia and Lima, Peru.
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Local people sell fresh fruit and other snacks on the streets, including freshly cooked quail eggs.
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I shop in a local artisan market for weavings.
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While the mothers sell crafts in their stalls, the daughters play hopscotch.
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We have a nice lunch with Erica and Sam from Song of the Road, a blog they are writing, who are overland travelers from California. And the next day we take a day trip out to Cumbe Mayo, and Incan village in the mountains to see the natural rock formations and the impressive aquaduct they built to carry water down to their settlement near what is now Cajamarca. In order to get into the area the locals call the forest of rocks, we have to pass through a giant rock (or there is a path around it for anyone who isn’t up for the claustrophobia inducing squeeze through this dark tunnel). It’s pretty unnerving actually, pitch black and you crawl into a narrow crevice in a giant rock and feel your way through maybe 30-40 feet until you come out on the other side and carry on along the path to the rock towers.
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The rocks surrounding this small valley remind me of the Needles back home in South Dakota. And the water channels amaze me. Incredible to think the level of ingenuity mankind has been capable of over the years.
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There are water basins and petroglyphs carved into the stone.
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When we get back to Cajamarca from the highlands west of the city we decide to cross to the east side and visit the Ventanillas de Otuzco. Named because it looks like dozens of small windows carved into the rocks, this place is actually a former mausoleum of sorts. Bodies were buried inside the small holes carved into the high rocks above villages. It’s eerie, yet really interesting. There are a few of these sites around Peru and this is the first one we get to see up close.
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Cajamarca is such an interesting place.

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