Cumbe Mayo ceremonial site and cave
Ouch, my head! Too many pisco and sprite cocktails the night before! And when I got back to my room I realized I didn’t have any water. There is always a price to be paid for evenings like that, huh? Unfortunately I didn’t have the luxury of lazing about and sleeping it off. I had booked a 9:30 am tour to Cumbe Mayo site and I had to get up. We were late getting started by a half hour because of three girls from Trujillo
who weren’t ready. I ugess half an hour wait is standard Peruvian. It happens all the time! But soon enough we were on our way and the day was turning out to be quite nice with lots of sunshine and warm, unlike the cold of the night before. We stopped first at the lookout point called Bella Vista, to see the panoramic of Cajamarca
nestled in the valley.
Cumbe Mayo ceremonial site and cave
The sun was in our eyes and we couldn’t take pictures so I suggested to the guide Louis, to stop on our way back. From here you could see south to the Banos del Inca and the road leading to Chiclayo
, and all of the city of Cajamarca.
There was a bumpy hour long dirt ride up to the top of the continental divide and the ancient site of Cumbe Mayo. The source of a river here leads all the way to the Atlantic, and on the other side, the shorter journey to the Pacific. It was a high and windswept spot that had incredible formations of igneous and sedimentary rocks (older than other parts of the Andes, and the reason that Cajamarca is less susceptible to earthquakes than other areas) that are called “frailones” or “big friars” because of their resemblance to standing monks.
Road down to Cumbe Mayo
In the rocks here are carvings from 1,000 BC that indicate that it was a ceremonial spot where animal sacrifices were performed. We climbed 15 meters through a slit in the rock that was barely wide enough to slip through, and dark at that, to emerge into the sunlight on the other side and a view of many of the rocks with a path that led down to the water channels that were carved by rock out of the rock to carry water down to lower altitudes. What is amazing is the precision of the cutting considering that they only had stones to do it. In some parts there were petroglyphs that archeologists are still puzzling over the meaning of. We passed by some campesinos cooking lunch for the men who were out in the fields with their horses threshing wheat. Other women were herding sheep and cows and yet more were washing the laundry in the source waters of the river.
It was much chillier up in the mountains and the girls from Trujillo hadn’t brought anything to put over their tshirts and they were shivering. My compassion for them was tempered in that they had made us wait half an hour in the van while they were getting ready, but in the end I offered the use of my shirt because they all had goosebumps on their arms and the wind could blow quite cold. A couple others in our group had extra sweaters or shawls that they gave to them.
Back in town I went to the thermal baths again, this time to avail myself of their hopefully curative properties, since the effects of the pisco from the night before were still with me. I wasn’t disappointed. It was the first proper bath I had had in a long time and I got out incredibly refreshed and feeling squeaky clean.
I bought a fresh pineapple juice and came back to Cajamarca to get something to eat. A nice antecucho and potatoes from a streetside vendor was spicy but delicious and I was starting to feel normal again!
I ran into the girls that had been on the tour with me that morning and asked if they wanted to go out later on and they readily agreed. Being Tuesday though, not much was open and we ended up at a seedy club called Alfredo’s. There wasn’t one good thing to recommend the place and that’s being generous. First shock, other than one of the girls slipping on something on the floor and falling, was that beers were 10 soles, and a pitcher 20. Since the pitcher contained exactly 2 beers I wanted to know what the use of having a pitcher was? Also, I wanted to know why beers were more expensive than Miraflores, in Lima
Louis, our guide
The owner explained that there was no entrance fee but I countered that of course there shouldn’t be an entrance fee in a seedy joint on a Tuesday night in a mountain town! Next up was the music. This DJ made the guy in Mancora
look like a pro. The songs skipped constantly, he played the same song three times in the space of a couple hours, and he would start a song and then 15 seconds into it, stop it and start another. The crowning indignity was the warm pitcher of pisco sour that we got and when I asked for ice, he pulled out a 2 liter plastic bottle that had been filled with water and frozen and started hacking away at it to make ice pieces. I can’t even mention the bathrooms without a shudder of horror.
Going into the rock
They were atrocious even for Peruvian standards. There was no running water in either sinks or toilets and they looked and smelled as if they hadn’t been cleaned in weeks. I wouldn’t have let my dog use those restrooms!