Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Northern Peru and the Amazonas Province - Nov 1 - 3

Well, I´ve been on the road now for seven weeks, but only 3200 miles. That´s what happens when you take it slow and try to experience the countries... not just get through them. Just like I planned. I´ve met several bikers who are doing a similar trip much faster, and I don´t envy them. Getting to know the people and places is definitely the way to do it.

On November 1 I entered the Amazonas province of Peru. This isn´t really the jungle part of Peru, but leads to it. The conditions pretty much sucked... more rain, road construction, and a lot of mud. Eventually I arrived in Chachapoyas, in the mountains.

Chachapoyas is (another) pretty little colonial village, but with a lot of pre-Incan history. On Sunday I took a tour to Kargia to see the sarcophagi (burial sites) left by the Chacha people before the Incan invasion. The tour consisted of yours truly, a Japanese guy who didn´t speak much Spanish, our guide, and the taxi driver. It was about a two hour car ride to the site, and given the steep road, dirt, and an abundant amount of mud I was glad I wasn´t on the bike. Anyway, the tour only cost eight bucks... well worth it for not having to deal with the terrain.

After we arrived at the nearest village we had to hike a couple of kilometers to the site itself. Steep and muddy, just like the road.

While we were struggling and slipping through the slime a local family passed us by. I don´t know if they have claws on their feet, or just suction cups, but they certainly passed us like we were standing still.

Finally we got to the burial site itself. In many ways it reminded me of the Toraja burial sites on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia that Karen and I had visited. The Chacha buried their people high up in the cliffs. Anthropoligists theorize that they must have lowered themselves down from the top of the mountain. Then they placed the bodies (at least of the rich people) in elaborate anthropomorphic sarcophagi. The poor (of course) were buried in much more modest graves.
These sarcophagi are about 9 feet tall.

The next day I decided I had enough of the rain and mud and took off for what I hoped would be a bit better climate in Chiclayo. I had to leave Chachapoya early because they closed the road at 7:30 am for construction and didn´t open it again until 4:30 pm. So it was an early start in the rain and the mud, a quick stop for breakfast after the road-block site, and finally some good road and weather when I got to Jaen. What a pleasure... dry pavement all the way to Chiclayo!

No comments: