After five weeks in the Cordillera Blanca it was finally time to make up some distance again. It started with a long downhill through the Callejón de Huayla and soon after Caraz I entered the Canon del Pato. The Rio Santa cut over centuries this narrow canyon into the mountains, so that the road had to be build through a series of over 30 tunnels.
Mangos were in season and incredibly cheap, especially if you bought them straight from the plantation. At one occasion I got the offer to pitch my tent for a night in the orchard underneath some Mango trees.
I’m always fascinated how fast landscapes can change. Just a day after I left the rainy Cordillera Blanca I got into an very arid area. There was almost no vegetation and according to locals they have just very little rain in January, that’s it. The whole landscape reminded me at north of Argentina and Chile.
That’s cycling reality in Peru: After a steep downhill it’s going steeply up immediately. Long flat part hardly exist at all.
After a long climbed I had planned to relax a bit on this plaza, but just minutes after I arrived I was surrounded by curious kids, who asked me lots of questions. ‘Where are you from?’, ‘Where do you go’, ‘How many km can you ride a day’, ‘When do you finish your trip?’, ‘Are you alone?’, ‘Where’s your family?’, ‘Don’t you have friends?’, ‘Are you married?’, ‘Aren’t you scared alone?’ and so on. Including my least favorite Questions: ‘How much is your bike/phone/…?’. Finally they wanted to ride my bike, what was funny to watch, as it was a way to large for them. They still had their fun though.
On my route to Cajamarca I passed plenty of mines, which were usually very obvious due to the massive environmental destruction around them. Whole mountain slopes looked like huge construction sites. At least the mines are an opportunity for work for the locals, although it’s still a question how good the working conditions are and how much of the money stays in Peru at all. How many people dependent on the work in the coal mines minded was shown me by all the men with totally black hands and faces in some villages.
The encounter with Jerson, who I got to know while camping next to his families house, I probably won’t forget that soon. All the male members of his family a working in the nearby coal mines. So is Jerson, even though he’s just 16 and still going to school. But every afternoon after school he’s working in the nearby mine to support his family and it’s not unlikely that he will do it for the rest of his live, like so many other people in that area.
Wild camping is not always that easy in Peru, but luckily most Peruvians don’t have problem to let me pitch my tent near their houses.
Street and market scenes in Cajamarca
‘The humans are the only keepers of the nature. Let’s take care of our world.’ – Such a sign next to a massive mine I found a bit bizarre.
The hats of the woman were bigger in the north of Peru
Thanks Armando for the hospitality!
One of my last 5 Soles menus. ($1,50). Soup and Broccoli Saltado as segundo.
And suddenly it got green. After cycling for months trough the brown and barren Andes it was great for my eyes to see some green.
It got warm and rainy again.
In Jaen Miguel, who owns a bycyle shop, helps out passing touring cyclists with a place to sleep and bike repairs. When I left on a Sunday local cyclists met up in front of the shop for day trip. Before saying good bye we rode out of town together.
More than 30 degrees, super humid air and large rice paddies made me remembering my time in South East Asia.
Peru finished like it had begun: With great hospitality. Thanks to Marta and her family, who let me sleep in their house. The next day I rolled to the border to leave after five months this fascinating and diverse country.