Cajamarca is the largest town we visited in Northern Peru. It is located at 8900 feet and is a charming town with lots of Spanish colonial churches and monasteries. And while the town was great, what I really loved was the hats the woman and men wore. As we drove through the Andes along some of the most beautiful roads we have been on, we started noticing with each village the hats were getting larger (and because the people are very tiny here the hats really looked big). The hats are made by hand of palm leaves and were obviously a cherished part of the culture and local dress. The local dress of each region in the Andes has been one of my favorite parts of driving. We get off the large highways and get onto the back roads where we can drive through small villages and really get a snapshot of the people.
My only problem is that I don’t like taking pictures of people, it makes both me and Sam uncomfortable. I feel the moment the camera comes out the wall between tourist and local is a mile high. Without the camera we feel more comfortable talking to people, buying a local cheese, some cherries from a farmer, trying to make a connection. I don’t like when locals ask to take my picture (Peruvian male teenagers like to take pictures with blond gringos I think), it makes me feel awkward, so I am sure it makes the locals feel the same way. So we don’t have great pics of the awesome 10 gallon hats, but I hope the ones we have will give you a sense for the dress of the region and the awesome people here.
While we were here, we had a pretty intense XP disaster (all my fault….). I led Sam down a street too narrow for our truck, so narrow that we could not back up due to the fact we took a very sharp turn to get onto the street. We were camped at a hotel high in the hills (not a good part of town….) and the streets down were a maze of dirt roads packed with mud houses (think City of God the movie). I did not take any pictures of the three hours it took us to get out of this disaster, it was that bad, and I thought the locals whose houses we tore up might not appreciate me taking pictures of the disaster.
We destroyed a woman’s roof (tore it off) and we payed her double what she asked to fix it because I felt so bad (it ended up being around $21.00). We also have deep scratches in our side window and it looks like Freddy Cougar took his knife like nails down our side. The whole thing was a total shit storm that Sam handled with perfect calmness (as I was getting screamed at by a little old Peruvian woman in a 10 gallon hat for destroying her house and having a slight panic attack/melt down).
We finally had to build a huge rock ramp to lift us high enough over the roofs so we could pass. Tons of locals came to help us getting covered in dirt and dragging heavy rocks up the hills to help us escape. Again, none of them would take any money and even refused a soda, saying they were happy to help us. People are have been so awesome, and even in our lowest times on this trip help has never been far away.
I am learning the energy you give out is the energy you get back. And Peru has really given us a lot back. We really love this country!