Archiv für den Monat: Januar 2019

Cheese of Cajamarca

Edamer, Tilsiter, Cheddar, Parmesan, Gouda – sounds like heaven, doesn’t it? A cheese heaven, located only 6h from my hometown Trujillo and called Cajamarca, famous for its diversity of dairy products. You won’t believe me how much I’ve missed milk, yogurt, butter and cheese for the past few months; it’s rare here on the coast and therefore expensive as hell. But let’s start at the beginning.

After New Year’s, I got to spend another four days in Cajamarca, the next „must-see“ Andean city in the northern part of Peru. I travelled there with my 4 flatmates and can honestly say that this is the most beautiful place here in Peru I’ve seen so far. It’s a calm city with few people walking the tiny little one-way streets in the middle of an impressive valley, surrounded by green mountains.

We decided to take different tours, exploring the nature around it and although it objectively was lots of driving around, we never felt stressed or uncomfortable because of that. The landscape is green, hilly and free of traffic.

The first day we went up Cumbe Mayo to 3500m to appreciate the natural parc with its plants, aqueducts and stone forest (I’m serious) where we observed different formations that might even symbolise something.

Give your phantasy a go and tell me you can see the rabbit and the Pope in the following picture. You definitely do.

Later we went to Collpa, visiting a lagoon that looked as if it was taken out of a Disney movie and after that got to witness the famous „llamado de vacas“.

In this event, the cows of the farm are called back in by their names and go the way to their personal box in the stalls, all by themselves. It actually worked out and we were all pretty impressed by that although it is probably only the result of classical conditioning.

Collpa definitely has a very special atmosphere due to its colourful houses and decorations and trying some of the freshly prepared manjar blanco made the day just perfect.

To end it, we relaxed for one hour in the thermal baths of Baño de los Incas where I could have stayed forever.

The next day was nearly as perfect as we spent most of the morning in a little zoo in Granja Porcón. It wasn’t so much the animals but, again, rather the nature around it that made it so special.

It all seemed so peaceful, the people working on the surrounding fields or weaving clothes the old-fashioned way and a stunning red flower (still haven’t figured out its name) made this place really magical.

After a typical lunch (trouch, obviously) we proceeded to Otuzco, a village famous for its so-called ventanillas, small holes in a huge stone wall upon a hill. We were told human bodies were buried there a long time ago but only of important people in the village and after the process of decay.

We also got to see a nice hanging bridge and another milk factory, including some more product tasting and, of course, buying. The highlight definitely was the garden of hortensias, an extraordinarily aesthetic place.

It’s filled with flowers in colors varying from all possible shades of pink and rosé to purple and blue and we felt like we were stuck in a fairytale. If it hadn’t gotten dark, we’d never have left.
Our last day consisted mostly of visiting a lagoon near Namora that we also crossed by boat. It was the only place with mosquitos so far and, as we didn’t expect it, we got bitten a lot.

But more importantly, we visited another stone formation on our way there where we had a lot of fun climbing the rocks, taking photos and just enjoying the stunning view.

Too soon we had to leave again and got a little city tour to end our stay. It was interesting to hear the story of how the inca empire, ruled by Atahualpa, was conquered right on the plaza de armas and the starting rain just perfectly added a dramatic touch to the guide’s tellings. We also finally climbed up Santa Apolonia to visit the sacred place and to have a more than breathtaking view over the whole city.

After some more photos, dinner and a hot chocolate, it was time to get into the bus back to Trujillo and say goodbye. Goodbye to Cajamarca, the Peruvian city I really lost my heart to.

~ Jenny

Travelling Pt. 2

Arequipa la blanca – Arequipa the white city, our next destination after a 9h-drive by bus. Known as a very non-Peruvian city, we were curious to explore the small streets of the second largest city of Peru. Very soon we could literally see the origin of its nickname: As all the houses are built out of volcanic stone, their walls are entirely white. Even most of the cathedrals and the Main Square (Plaza de Armas) show the same characteristic architecture and design creating this special atmosphere everyone is talking about.

After having explored the important places of the rather small city centre, we decided to realise the famous Colca Canyon Trek, a two days hiking tour including condor watching and lots of walking. It basically consisted of hiking down the canyon the first and getting back up the next day. You won’t believe me but the way down was way worse than up – it was hot, dusty and after some hours your knees won’t stop shaking. At least we passed by dozens of fruit trees crossing the gardens of the village that fueled up our energy.Having spent the night in a rather basic hut, we were happy to be back in our hostel in Arequipa. Our last day we spent walking around a bit more, taking photos on top of the mirador, eating some more traditional arequipeño food and of course buying a typical llama pullover.
Back in Trujillo, I tried to set up some activities for my parents which was more difficult than expected. Trujillo isn’t a touristic city so we had to stick to a little city tour, the site of Chan Chan, Huanchaco and some nice restaurants.
I was happy to spend Christmas with them at a student’s house who invitied us on 24th. It was totally new to us to start late at 9pm celebrating, to start with the feast at 11pm and watching fireworks at midnight. We were told this was even earlier than average so it was definitely an interesting experience, although it already felt a bit like New Year. The day after, officially Christmas, was even more of a special experience as everything was closed and calm. Something I’ve never seen before in Trujillo as even on Sundays supermarkets are open and people are on the streets just like on weekdays.
Our last trip led us to Huaraz, a small city in the Andes where we spent some more time in the Peruvian nature. Turns out we’d spent most of the time in the bus driving to different destinations of our tours, but this wasn’t too bad in the end as it all was pretty high again (between 2500 and 5000m) and the beautiful landscape with its flora and fauna could be observed anyway.
The first day was packed with the Chavin culture, pre-inca and over 3000 years ago in Huaraz. We visited their main temple, feeling the ancient spirits that attracted so many pilgrims in former times. Their strong belief in higher states of consciousness (often provoked by the San Pedro Cactus), their gods and traditions formed the center of their lives and are still part of the modern Andean culture.The next two days rather consisted of pure nature; the Llanganuco Lagoon and the Pastoruri Glacier. The pictures speak for themselves concerning the beauty of these places and we enjoyed spending some time in these areas a lot. The woods of the „Puya Raymondi“, a typical Andean tree,and the natural source of mineral water were just as exciting as the snow storm accompanying us down the way from Pastoruri.

But I want to say a word about something you can’t easily derive from the photos. The Pastoruri glacier looks impressive on them, but did you know that in the last 60 years more than 2,5km of it have melted away? This certainly is one of the saddest consequences of climate change and even more so of human interaction in native regions. Other glaciers here in Peru, inaccessible to us, lose substantially less ice every year – definitely something that leaves you in an uncomfortable inner conflict as a tourist and visitor of these places.

Enough travelling? For now! My parents are back home in Germany but after a rather disappointing and calm New Year’s Eve at the beach, I spent some more days with my flatmates in Cajamara, so stay tuned for more stunning activities and pictures, I promise!

~ Jenny

Travelling Pt. 1

„To shut your eyes is to travel.“ – Emily Dickinson
This quote of one of my favourite poets might be true as long as you stay at home, laying in your bed and thinking about all the great things to see in this enormous world. But as soon as you actually start your travel, you can experience the places with all your senses in a totally different and authentic way. I spent my last weeks of this year together with my parents exploring the wonderful Peruvian cities of Cusco, Arequipa and Huaraz and there’s no way I could have used my time better.Cusco, formerly called Qosco, offers you endless information and archeological sites of the inca culture which only existed for a few decades (but still counts) with surprisingly advanced technology and traditions. As it was the dominating culture when the Spanish conquered Peru, it’s also the culture we know most about today although the Spanish did a great job destroying most of it. We started our stay on 3500m altitude with a City Tour exploring the most important inca centres such as the sacred temples of Qenqo, Qoricancha and Sacsaywaman or Puca Pucara, the red fortress. All these names represent a Spanish modification of the original quechua names.

The second day led us to the Valle Sagrado, the sacred valley of the incas. There we visited several different cities within the area (Pisaq, Urubamba, Ollantaytambo) and other inca sites. As the inca strongly believed in their natural gods, their temples were oriented according to the main sun events of the year, the two solstices and the two equinoxes, all of them celebrated in a special way. The architecture of the buildings was extremely accurate and full of their mysterious beliefs in the concepts of dualism and the three worlds represented by three characteristic animals. Dualism was omnipresent in the inca culture; black and white, man and woman, day and night. Also, the world is divided into the past or the underworld of the dead (snake), the present or the land (puma) and the future or the sky (condor). 

These concepts accompanied us also during our trip to the most famous tourist attraction in Peru, Machu Picchu. Going there by the ridiculously expensive train, we had some free time in Aguas Calientes, the village of Machu Picchu, we spent walking around and bathing in the thermal springs. The next day we got up early to start our walk up Machu Picchu at 4.30am which was tough but worth it. We were extremely lucky with the weather and had an amazing view the whole day. Climbing up Wayanapicchu in the sun some hours later was even tougher but the view was more than rewarding.

If you think that we were tired by now, you’re certainly wrong. Hiking up the Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca Montaña de 7 Colores) on 5000m the next day was a totally new experience to all of us. It’s not so much that the way required special skills, but the altitude often provokes sickness (soroche) with sypmtoms like headaches and nausea. You can rent horses to carry you up the mountain but I promise you’ll be prouder having walked on your own. The panorama on top was breathtaking and as it was sunny again, the fresh snow just had melted enough to perceive the seven different colours that form due to various minerals.

15 more minutes and we got to see the red valley which was even more impressive to me as the landscape consists of so many different shapes and colours.Before heading to Arequipa by bus overnight, we spent one more day visiting the site of Moray, an impressive agricultural centre that benefits from a terrace system and creates tropical climates on top of the mountains.

Besides agriculture, Maras counts over 4000 basins forming salines where families extract salt from the highland’s water under the name of the company ‚Marasal‘.Leaving Cusco after this adventurous week felt so wrong – the city itself is so beautiful and the view from our hostel something I really could have got used to!

~ Jenny