From Chiclayo to Cajamarca

Cajamarca Travel Blog

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Rice fields
Let me pause to offer you the virtual description of what it is like to take a typical Peruvian bus ride.  This special experience isn’t for everyone.  You need the patience of a saint, the fortitude of a soldier, a stomach of iron and the spirit of a daredevil.  

Let’s start with the purchase of your ticket.  Despite an internet café every 50 feet and wireless internet blanketing virtually every square millimeter of Peruvian cyberspace, you can’t buy a bus ticket online for most companies, and heaven forbid you think that you can simply call and do it over the phone!  No no, you have to make the trip to the station and purchase your ticket there.  Next comes the admonition to show up at least a half hour before the time the bus is scheduled to leave (notice how I wrote that and not “when the bus leaves”, we’ll get to that in a moment).
Lunch stop
  This is delivered with the utmost sincerity on the part of the ticket clerk.  How they can keep a straight face is beyond me.  It would be like an ice cream vendor telling you on a blazing hot day that the ice cream won’t melt.  

Well, you’ve gotten this far.  So you show up at the station and inevitably all is chaos.  People are milling about, no one has any information about anything.  The baggage clerks are taking baggage and you get in line, but when you show your ticket they tell you that they aren’t collecting baggage yet for your bus.  This line is for the bus before yours.  “But,” you protest “that bus should have left 45 minutes ago?!”  With a knowing wink, the baggage clerk motions you to get out of the way and you realize that the game has started again.
Resevoir
  So periodically you murmer to other passengers, “when is the bus going to leave?”  They don’t know any more than you.  Nor do the ticket clerks have any information.  They just parrot the same line, “when it comes.”  In Italian train stations, or for that matter, in train stations all over Europe, there is another language spoken in addition to the primary language of the country and English, and that language is called Announcement Language.  No one quite speaks it or understands it.  It comes out garbled and surprisingly similar no matter where you are.  You are able to catch a few details and for the most part it’s enough for you to get the gist of what’s going on and catch your train, or get to the proper platform, or realize that it’s going to be late, or whatever.
Reservoir
  It’s a curious language but it works.  That language is not spoken in Peru, for they have no speakers and no announcements.  You’re left to figure it out for yourself.  So you keep asking and finally a line begins to form and someone official appears to take tickets and you board the bus.

Now the adventure really begins.  You find your place, get settled, the bus starts on its way a half hour or 45 minutes late and everyone is happy.  Not a few minutes into the ride, that happy smile quickly disappears off your face when the horror of the movie starts.  You know it when the speakers crank up and the screens flicker on and the writing is all in Chinese.  It’s another bad Asian gangster movie from the 1980s.
Reservoir
  The videos shown on Peruvian buses fall into three categories: the aforementioned Chinese B or C movies from another bygone and best-forgotten era, bottom of the barrel American comedies like White Chicks by the Wayans Brothers, and decent and recent Hollywood productions (these make up about 1% of the movies shown).  No matter that there are discriminating passengers on the bus, or children, or a nun.  Gobs of sex and violence and stupidity are the order of the day.  Usually the gangster flicks are turned on at night, just when you think you are going to be able to sink into sleep, and the volume is turned up as high as it can go on the blown-out speakers, one of which is without fail right next to your seat.  The best defense against the bus movie is a good mp3 player and earphones.
Flower
 

Other notable features of the bus ride are the vendors that approach when you are waiting to leave, when you are in transit in a town or at a highway toll booth, or picking up other passengers.  This can be both good and bad.  You never go hungry on a Peruvian bus.  Things on offer include sugar cane, guava pods, delectable desserts, sandwiches, all kinds of fresh fruit, and even jello in a cup.  The bad part is when the Peruvian penchant for throwing trash away in anything but a trash can involves you stepping on a puddle of jello in the aisle.  

If you’ve endured all of that, then you can make it to the end of the line, not worrying about the driver’s need for speed to make up for the late departure, by passing on hills and playing chicken rounding corners thousands of feet up from the valley floor, nor will you be worried by long waits just sitting there not knowing why you are stopped or when you will start again.
Ducks
  I’m sure I’m forgetting some important details, but it’s possible that my memory hesitates to remember the gorier details.  

So there you have it, a fun day on a Peruvian bus.  I hope you can all have the experience some day!

Belluomo says:
I just saw in my second picture that I took Linea bus!
Posted on: Apr 08, 2011
Belluomo says:
ahhh Ley Seca ;) that must not be good. Maybe have a private party with pisco ja ja ja. Well, yes, the bus goes direct to Cajamarca. No stop in Trujillo. In fact, I don't think it passes through Trujillo even. Chiclayo - Cajamarca is totally possible. I don't remember what bus line I took unfortunately but I'm sure you can find out. Good luck with elections!
Posted on: Apr 08, 2011
jellyanna says:
This post got me ha ha ha-ing to myself on my very quiet night in. It's election weekend, so ley seca - all the gringos are indoors in Huanchaco tonight.

Question, you took the bus from Chiclayo to Cajamarca? Does it go direct or does it stop in Trujillo first? My plan was to do Chiclayo - Cajamarca but just today a Peruana told me that it isn't possible.
Posted on: Apr 08, 2011
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Rice fields
Rice fields
Lunch stop
Lunch stop
Resevoir
Resevoir
Reservoir
Reservoir
Reservoir
Reservoir
Flower
Flower
Ducks
Ducks
Lush river valley
Lush river valley
Valley
Valley
Hillside
Hillside
Pulling donkey
Pulling donkey
Statue
Statue
Cajamarca typical dress
Cajamarca typical dress
Valley view
Valley view
Cajamarca
photo by: AndySD