#3 Peru, February 5, 2000

I think 51 pounds that my suitcase weighs is too much, but I have 11 books in there. When one travels alone, one needs BOOKS. I’m lightening my load gradually, as I read and discard the books. There is also too much contact lens stuff in there, too. Actually I’m thinking of ways to travel lighter—not in clothes, I’m already light there. In fact when I get home I’m going to buy a backpack, and practice walking with it on my morning walks. Then I’m going to really turn into a backpacker, so all the books, etc. will have to remain at home.

By the way, I just finished Barbara Kingsolver’s “The Poisonwood Bible”. It was really good, but a downer. Now I’m on “Angela’s Ashes” –also good, but another downer.

Well, let’s see, to catch you up on the next installment, I left Trujillo on a bus for Cajamarca (seven hour bus ride) again high in the mountains. It is the place where the Inca Atahualpa and his army were relaxing by the local hot baths when Pizarro came to town. On November 16, 1532, Pizarro, using trickery, cannon and horses, captured Atahualpa and changed the course of Peruvian history. The Spaniards kept him in a small house, which survives today, which I visited, and asked that a similar sized house (room) be filled once with gold and twice with silver as ransom. This the Incas did, but Pizarro killed Atahualpa anyway and set up a puppet Inca ruler.

Cajamarca is at 8700 feet elevation and is very pretty when the sun shines—it rained quite a bit, but I did see some sun. I visited the colonial hospital and churches, and the museums around town.




Then I took some tours to the Inca hot baths, and to see a herd of vicunas, among other things. Peru is so beautiful. I visited an aqueduct built in 1500 BC and also some very old petroglyphs. On one tour I was treated to watching cows being milked BY MACHINE at an agricultural cooperative.



Each of these tours involved some pretty rigorous climbing at altitudes of over 9500 feet and after that I felt kind of punk. I lost my appetite and felt exhausted. Luckily, the next day I took a six-hour bus ride DOWN to the coast again, and after an R and R day, I feel fine.

On the bus ride down the mountain, a man got on the bus and pitched vitamins made out of paca, some local product, as well as treatment for parasites. Maybe I should have bought some!

Now I’m in Chiclayo, near Sipan, the site of a Moche ruler’s tomb (300 AD) that was considered to be the most important Peruvian find in the last 50 years.  This morning I had a wonderful goat cheese sandwich for breakfast.  They have good cheese here, and good bread, with poor tea.  Then I took a collectivo (small bus) to Lambayeque to see the Bruning Museum which houses the treasures of the Lord of Sipan tomb. They were exquisite!  They reminded me a lot of the Egyptian King Tut treasures, except there was no gold “furniture.” But there were lots of ear spools (I bought a reproduction of one), nose ornaments, necklaces, pectorals made of tiny shell beads, silver/gold that represented duality.  One example of this was a double strand necklace of large peanuts—half silver and half gold.

I waved down the collectivo to go back to Chiclayo, and then engaged a taxi (not many buses in the afternoon) to go to see the actual tombs, which were 30 km the other side of Chiclayo. They were interesting too. Of course, the Lord was buried with about 8 other “helpers”—wife, priest, guard, llama and dog,   There is still lots of excavation going on.

I returned to Chiclayo for lunch. Two young men sitting near me practiced their English and explained various menu items to me. They prevailed upon the waiter to bring me samples of cebada and chicha morada, which are local versions of beer made from corn. I liked my beer better than the samples, but it was fun to try them. I ate cabrito (goat) with rice and beans, and a mixed salad.

Now I’m gong to take a dip in the hotel pool and then get ready to fly to Lima tomorrow where I will take the bus to the south. The weather here on the coast is delightful—just right to have the ceiling fan turning lazily.


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