Cajamarca was my second mandatory stop on the Peru. I arrived, from ChachapoyasA very early morning with the throat touched of the trip: a 10 hour night odyssey in a combi, transfer included in Leimebambaon a road riddled with sharp bends that would be no more than 5 metres wide. If you are more than 1.80m tall you often have problems on some public transport, so when I got my ticket I asked to ride in the co-pilot's seat so that my legs would be a bit more stretched out. It was a monumental mistake that cost me a bad drink.
I guess like many drivers, I find that when I have to get into a vehicle driven by a stranger I try to get a preview of his character (if I can), which might give me clues about his behavior behind the wheel. It also happens the other way around, i.e. by watching (or suffering) how someone drives you usually get a rough picture of their character. A nervous person is a driver who is usually fast; a kind gesture or a slow walk means that the person is calm and therefore drives in a relaxed manner.
This is of course not a true theory, as I was well shown by the kamikaze that was guiding the combi fifteen minutes after the start of the march. His kindly countenance and the way he settled into the seat when he got into the vehicle did not bode well for what was to come. No doubt he knew the road as the corridor of his house and that's why he was going like the devil, always accelerating when negotiating any curve and giving a sudden swerve just when it seemed that we were going down the ravine. I insisted that he shouldn't run, I tried to make conversation with him several times, I offered him food, and not even for that.
Finally, after four hours of uninterrupted torment and serious trouble, his partner, who was much wiser than he was, took over and only then did I get some sleep. Issues such as driver education, especially when you are responsible for many lives, should be taken more seriously. On my way to Chachapoyas we almost had a collision with another bus on a hell of a curve.
At Cajamarca the beginning of the end of the Tahuantinsuyubecause there, in what is now their Plaza de Armas, was where Francisco Pizarro and his people captured the Inca Atahualpa. I was surprised to see how these facts are still so present around here, and how being Spanish someone will always appear willing to "remind you". For example, someone in the form of a guide.
The anecdote (it was nothing more than that), was that when the guide from Cumbemayo found out that I was Spanish, he addressed in Quechua two Peruvian boys from the excursion referring to me and provoking their laughter. This gentleman was proud of his Inca past, which I think is great, and openly denied any sign of the Hispanic heritage of Peru (although I suppose his ancestors would have come from both branches, since he was a half-breed).
In making these statements he always addressed me in a vehement and baleful manner. According to him "every Peruvian had the supreme obligation to speak Quechua", but he expressed himself in perfect Spanish and above all his name, Manuel, did not seem very Quechua to me. I think Mr. Manuel forgot that we are in the 21st century and that from our current perspective it is always easy to judge past events. In short, respect above all and for all, and a healthy capacity to empathise with others, two of the great and priceless benefits of travelling!
What to see in Cajamarca
Cajamarca sits in a peaceful valley and clearly represents the archetype of a colonial city, with a historic centre that is a true representation of the purest baroque art of the 17th century. The streets and squares around the Plaza de Armas were so familiar that I sometimes thought I was in Granada, Toledo, Cáceres o Salamanca. Large four-span houses articulated around central courtyards with porticoes and upper galleries, pedestrian and paved pavements, the unfinished cathedral, churches and convents such as San Francisco or monumental site of Bethlehemetc.
However, and here's the fascinating thing South AmericaThis familiar atmosphere, for Europeans, coexists with the natural essence of the indigenous; ethnically, in the food, in the smells, in the clothing, but unfortunately not so much in the architecture, since the only pre-Columbian building preserved is the Rescue RoomA simple example of superb Inca architecture, where the atmosphere of mourning is still alive almost 500 years later. The dual idiosyncrasies of these lands are clearly visible in Cajamarca, and while not as overt as in Arequipa or in the CuscoThe fact that they have been in the same place for so long makes them worthy of a visit that will not disappoint at all (I spent three days on it).
The truth is that I was very happy to meet Cajamarca, a beautiful and welcoming city that is inhabited by kind people like Mr. WilmerHe was a shopkeeper who was passionate about the archaeology of his land and whose knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject would leave the most erudite guide in the dark. The surroundings of Cajamarca deserve some excursions to visit the petroglyphs and hydraulic mills of the Archaeological complex of CumbemayoThe "Cajamarquina" culture is situated in the high plateau at almost 4,000m. Also, very close to the archaeological vestiges, we visited the picturesque geological formation of Stone forest of Cumbemayo.
For those who love rock & roll, we can tell you that Saturday nights are very lively, and it is possible to find bands doing covers of Blondie, Guns n'Roses o Green Day. Although I would have loved to go around, I had to go to bed early because the next morning I was going to the coast, to Huanchaco.