Guide with statues
I enjoyed the tour of Cumbe Mayo and went to see if there was space on the bus for the day tour of the Porcon farm north of the city. There were just a couple spaces left and I was in time to nab one of them before the bus left with a full group. The Porcon farm is a cooperative of the 7th Day Adventists who took over many thousands of square hectares in the mountains and undertook a reforestation project in addition to a large self-sufficient farm. They started with a hectare of 30 different varieties of trees and determined that two species of pines were best suited to the area and then began to plant what would turn out to be millions of pines. The reason for the “Project Green Sierra”, helped and funded by the university in Cajamarca
, was to provide ground cover for the high sierra, to use the wood as fuel and for construction and furniture, and to give more sanctuary to the flora and fauna.
The sight of so many mountaintops covered in pines is in contrast to much of the high Peruvian sierra which is denuded of trees.
On the way to the farm, our excellent guide spoke for more than an hour about the history of Cajamarca and the surrounding area, and about the folk traditions such as the food and sugar dolls baked for the tombs of deceased family members and placed there on the day of the dead, November 2nd. Not a day for mourning, All Souls Day here in the Cajamarca region is celebrated with a feast and fiesta. Other interesting traditions our guide talked about were the tradition of the widow to put on black when her husband died and to wear it for a year. On the anniversary of his death, there was a mass in the morning and then in the evening the whole village gathered for a party in which everyone contributed to buy food and new celebratory clothes for the widow.
Flags of the world with Bible flag
After traditional ceremonies the black clothing was removed and the party began. If the widow were young enough, suitors would come to the feast and declare their intentions, along with what they could provide materially for the widow. Another tradition he described was Holy Week and Palm Sunday, which in Peru is celebrated with many interesting ceremonies. Here, in some villages, they carry heavy crosses on Palm Sunday, accompanied by the people bearing palms and olive branches. The crosses are carried quite far until they are put down at the church. There are many other Holy Week traditions but I can’t remember everything that the guide talked about.
We knew we were nearing the farm when we saw signs with biblical verses by the side of the road.
Seventh Day Adventist Church
They were everywhere in Porcon farm itself, and chosen for their relevance to the activity where they were placed, so for instance, by the school, there was one (all in Spanish of course) reading “Suffer the little children to come unto me…”, and by the room where the women weave the verse about a woman’s worth being more than gold (or something like that, I can’t remember exactly), and so forth. In the zoo there were many biblical verses placed by the cages indicating the specific animal that was there. In the zoo we saw a number of animals, many of which I didn’t know the English name for, or even if I had ever heard of them before. The monkeys were funny, the way they grabbed for food and the way they ate. We saw a variety of birds including condors (“balcons” too, Stella!), and different wild cats of the sierra and jungle, most of which I had never seen before, even in American zoos.
After the tour I wanted to buy some of the excellent cheese, but I was frustrated in my attempt because they didn’t sell them in pieces, just large wheels. On our way back, all the schools were letting out and there were tons of kids in their uniforms on the roads, walking back home, laughing, playing. I wanted to stop and talk to them but we had agenda and had to get back.
I bought a ticket for the bus to Celendin, part one of the route east to Chachapoyas
for the next day. Some warned of taking that route due to the bumpy roads and difficultry as well as the many hours (18?) needed to get there. Apparently, the bus from Celendin, which only runs on Thursday and Sunday, stops at a river because the bridge is too flimsy and passengers cross the bridge to wait for a bus on the other side.
The French couple who were with us in Cumbe Mayo told me that they waited 4 hours on the other side for the bus! But they said that even though it was long, the breathtaking scenery warranted the trip. So I got a ticket for the first leg, leaving at 5:30 in the morning. Then I went to attend a dance performance of folkloric dances taking place at the Belen courtyard. It was in honor of the international day of folkloric dance and was supposed to start at 7:30. In grand Peruvian tradition it didn’t start until 8:30 and I hadn’t had dinner. Moreover, it was getting colder and I didn’t have my sweater with me. I stayed to watch some of it, but I had to get back to eat some dinner, pack my things and get to bed. It turned out that the pork sandwiches I got from a street vendor were probably bad because the next day I began to feel the now familiar stomach cramps.
However luckily they weren’t bad. So I had some warm beer (no place had cold beer unless I drank it there. They keep the bottles to return for deposit) and sandwiches in my room as I packed. I didn’t sleep well, probably because I was thinking too much about my 4:30 am alarm…