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Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Exhausted Cajamarca, Cajamarca, Peru, Thursday, 07 April 2005 2:21am

I hate it when I know I have to get up early and I spend the night worrying about whether I'll be able to wake up on time instead of sleeping. It doesn't help that my watch alarm has failed to wake me on a couple occasions on this trip, so I don't have confidence in it.

The bus ride to Cajamarca was uncomfortable and spectacular. The bus was packed, and the seats weren't great (they were designed for people shorter than me). The scenery, however, was great. We started in the lowland deserts near Chiclayo. We passed through an intermediate zone with rocky, sandy peaks around it but rice and bananas growing in the valley we were passing through. As we ascended into the mountains, that gave way to a region reminiscent of Arizona: dry hills, painted by mineral deposits. Cacti were abundant. It's odd to see cacti and rice plantations at the same time.

Cajamarca is not the high desert I expected. It's the same kind of verdant landscape as in the Sacred Valley. The city is nestled in a round valley surrounded by beautiful hills.

It turned out that my guide from yesterday not only gave me the number of a guide in Cajamarca, but he took the liberty of calling that guide for me. So, to my surprise, I was met at the bus station by a tour guide. He turned out to be a really nice guy, and he wanted to practice his English, so I agreed to take a city tour with him.

Unfortunately, he was of the school of tours that insists that the tourist must not miss anything. There are a lot of very similar statues and paintings in Cajamarca's churches. The city would be delightful for someone interested in mestizo decorative sculpture or the Cuzco or Quito schools of painting or the implements used in historic and current handicrafts. Me? I just like churches for their architecture, and if I've seen St Peter, I've seen St Paul. Unfortunately, I was unable to express my disinterest politely, and I really didn't want to hurt his feelings. Like I said, he was a really nice guy, and he wanted to practice his English, so I went along with it.

He, like the guide yesterday, often asked me if I didn't want to take a picture of this or that. Cajamarca is really neat to look at, and I understand his confusion, but it was raining, and any pictures I could have taken would have been dull and gray. I explained to him that the light was terrible, but he kept asking about the pictures.

The tour covered all of the major sites in central Cajamarca, but I probably would have done it in half the time by myself, particularly because of the fact I was tired.

I had to resort to Spanish to tell him that no, I wasn't interested in getting up early tomorrow for a tour around the archaeological sites of the region, since my demurrals in English were not getting the point across. Of course, the fact that I resorted to Spanish embarrassed him. * Sigh *

I want to stay awake long enough to avoid shifting to an early schedule, but then I want to sleep for a long, long time.

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