English needs help...
It was a hellish 24 hours getting to Chachapoyas
and I had my first experience with the long day multiple bus changes. It all started when I missed my original bus from Cajamarca
east to Celendin and from there to catch another bus to Chachapoyas that only leaves twice a week. The man at another national bus line had warned me that it was a crazy route to take because of the undependability but after speaking with other travelers I decided to do it. I was undone by a simple mistake, setting my alarm by accident for 4:30 pm instead of 4:30 am to catch the first leg to Celendin at 5:30 in the morning.
Church in Chachapoyas
So I woke up at 5:33 am on my own and realized that even if the bus left late I wouldn’t make it. So the alternate plan was to go back the other way, west towards the coast to Chiclayo
, the way I had come to Cajamarca, and from there to take the safer, shorter, but less scenic route to Chachapoyas. In the end it wouldn’t matter because there was only a night bus on offer and I had little choice but to catch it. In the meantime I had developed another case of the stomach aches, probably due to a bad pork sandwich I had bought on the street. So I was suffering both from regret that I had to change my original plan, and the physical pain of an angry stomach. I caught a bus in Cajamarca that the guy told me would drop me off on the Panamericana highway not far from Chiclayo.
St. Rose parade
I should have just waited another hour and a half for the regular service bus directly to Chiclayo but my desire to get on the way got the better of my judgement and I hopped on the bus. Hours later I was dropped off on the dusty thoroughfare with the assurance that another bus would pick me up and get me to Chiclayo. He was right, another banana bus came along not long after and I got on with a prayer that I was going in the right direction. I got to Chiclayo ok and found a bus to take me to Chachapoyas at 7:45 in the evening, which gave me some time to kill. I found an internet place and then went to the cathedral nearby and participated in a rosary and litany to Mary before getting a bowl of wonton soup (thank God for dependable Chinese restaurants worldwide!) and then was on my way.
It probably wasn’t too smart to get on a 10 hour bus with no bathroom and marginally reclinable seats but it’s all about the adventure right? I popped a couple Tylenol PM and spent the rest of the night waking and sleeping in a stupor, as the bus traversed paved mountain roads and dirt and rock unpaved valley paths. At 5:30 am, 24 hours after I had originally woken up in Cajamarca, the bus stopped and we were in Chachapoyas.
I did nothing the first day but try to catch up on sleep and get my bowels regulated, and simply relax. Luckily I got a wireless internet connection at the hotel that let me update my blog and catch up on emails. I had a good breakfast and coffee and it seemed that my stomach problems were a 24 hour thing and nothing more. I wandered the town a bit and got some information on day trips and treks. Chachapoyas is in the upper Amazon basin, in the Amazonas region, and features aspects of both the mountainous sierra and the jungle. It’s the halfway point as it were. There are numerous ancient ruins of the Chachapoyan people that are just beginning to be discovered and the area has neither received nor capitalized on tourism yet, but the majority of travelers I talked to or posts on the internet all called this area a highlight of their trip and as impressive if not more, than Macchu Picchu. The Chachapoyans resisted the Inca invasion better than most and it took more force to conquer them. They built their fortresses on the mountaintop plateaus of the area and what stymied the Incas were the high stone walls and narrow entrances. Many of these fortresses and circular stone houses are still standing. There are other ancient sites and natural attractions in the region, including the 3rd highest waterfall in the world after Angel’s Falls in Venezuela and another in Africa. I’m going to see that tomorrow before commencing a 4 day trek on Sunday which will include many of the sites and a horseback ride on one of the days, as well as nightly lodging in local homes along the trail.