So you might be wondering why we are so far behind on our blog. I remember when I was reading other overlanders blogs, South America seemed to be where they stopped blogging or got way behind. We are committed to keep up the tales of our trip, but oh we are so far behind….In Peru, we have been spending the majority of our time in rural areas free camping with no internet, spending minimal time in cities.
Then Bolivia happened and it was like we time travelled back to 1989 with dial up internet so slow we could not even upload one picture. Crazy frustrating. When we finally got fast WIFI and I was about to finish our first Peru blog post my Mac Book died a final, fast death. Bummer. So here I am currently typing on a Latin keyboard in a hostel in Chile. At least I can insert a ñ or a ¿ if I need to. Hopefully we will get caught up on our travels soon (and on a keyboard where I can type faster than 10 words a minute)!
Revash is a group of mausoleums that were built to resemble little cities on a cliff side in the Santo Tomas region of Peru. We heard from our friends Toby and Chloe that they had to hike a hard 4 hour hike to get to the ruins, but they heard there was a town, San Bartolo, that was closer to the site. The problem was there were no roads to the town on any of our maps. As we were driving the back roads to figure out what to do, we stopped the truck and asked a man herding cattle if he knew the best way to get to Revash. He told us to wait a few minutes while he put the cattle away and he would hop into the truck and take us.
The mans name was Jesus, and even though he spoke Spanish with a strong Quechua accent, he spoke slowly for us and we got along great. Jesus showed us the new roads (not yet mapped apparently) to the town of San Bartolo, showed us a safe place to park and then told us he would take us to the ruins. I was a little worried, not sure if he was going to ask for a huge sum of money, but he seemed so nice, we went with our gut and let him guide us to the ruins. We hiked through the village and onto a trail that took us directly into the ruins in about 30 minutes. We walked around in awe of the beauty not just of the ruins but the valley surrounding it.
After we visited the ruins, I asked Jesus if he wanted any money for his time and the tour, he said no. I was really surprised. Sam pulled some cold beers out of our ARB and we shared them with him. He then invited us to camp in front of his house for the night. That evening, he came with his wife with a huge pitcher of coffee and fresh baked bread for us and we all shared it inside the XP.
So far on this trip we have been blown away by the generosity of people, especially the poor. In fact, the poorer the people, the more generous they seem to be. Days like these restore my faith in humanity. Having strangers show such kindness, for no other reason that just because they feel it is the right thing to do, it is what I hope to remember most about this trip. Lessons on generosity and trusting the good intentions of others has been really eye opening for me. And seeing the world first hand is so much better than through the biased lens of the US media. People are good and the world is a much safer and friendlier place than we have ever imagined.
Ventanillas de Combayo
This is the oldest cemetery in Peru and is around 35 kilometers from Cajamarca. There is another Ventanillas closer to the city, but they are very touristy. The Combayo ones are totally untouched by tourism. so much so that we could not figure out even where to park or how to get up to them. We finally began asking Peruvian farmers in their traditional clothes if we could cross their land to get to the ruins, they always said yes in their heavily accented Spanish. Finally, as we got closer to the Ventanillas we asked a very old woman if she could show us the trail to the ruins. She asked for a propina (tip) and I gave her about $3.00 US. She was so thrilled she almost started to cry. I told Sam that was the best 3 bucks I ever spent. This area of Peru was very rural and poor, but the people were so kind to us here, we loved every interaction we had with them.
We asked an old couple if we could camp on their land near the site for the night and they said of course. I offered to give them a few dollars to camp and they refused. A family of nine with multiple generations all lived in one simple mud hut and lived off their animals but would not take our money. I really wanted to do something for them, so I made a big bag of fruit, vegetables and chocolate (luckily we had just visited a local market in town) and offered it to them as a gift. They were so thrilled and grateful that from that day on I always over bought fruit and offered it to families when we camped on their land. They were always happy to get it and it is a much better interaction then trying to “pay” someone to park on their land when they don’t really understand the concept of camping or paying for it. Giving them a gift in gratitude is a totally different transaction and is universally understood.
There was so much we did not get to explore in this region, but we promised each other we would come back one day for one of the most beautiful and unspoiled areas we have visited so far.