I arrived in Cajamarca at 4:30 in the morning and waited till 6:30 in the bus station to show up at the host´s house. Made some progress in “Roughing It” (Mark Twain). The hosts were very welcoming and treated me to a lovely breakfast and afterwards the daughter, Sandra (16), took me around the town and I bought a shirt for 5 soles ($1.30).
In the afternoon I hung out in the town plaza. Every town over a thousand has a Plaza de Armas. Really cool concept. It’s a beautiful place surrounded by wonderful colonial buildings. A place where people come and stroll in a little circle to see and be seen and lovers come and cuddle in the cool evenings. I felt a little apprehensive. Peru seems more “normal” now, like Nevada.
Something interesting is that SERVAS hosts seem to think it is more interesting that I’m Jewish than it is that I´m from another country. Lots of questions and confusion. For most people I’m the first Jew they’ve met and in a Catholic country it’s pretty interesting for them. I had incredibly interesting conversations with my hosts about politics and culture. SERVAS is really amazing. Everyone has been so kind and generous.
Also most SERVAS Peruvians have heard of David Copperfield but have never seen a cardtrick before. People are very appreciative. Also it’s interesting to see how my tricks become more physical as I lose command of the language. But I can finally make jokes.
Here’s a bad one I just made up:
Por que personas piensan que vacas son perezososa?
Porque todo el tiempo estan en VACAciones!!!
Sadly (actually probably happily) it does not translate…
The next day I went on a long hike to Cumbe Maya with Sandra and one of her friends, Sarah. It was about 4.5 hrs uphill (2 hrs back) and it kicked my butt in parts and if you don’t ask directions you’re liable to get lost.
But it was super fun. Humorously none of us knew that Cumbe Maya is a famous ancient aqueduct so we showed up, ate lunch, and walked back without actually seeing the site. We returned and I took the family out to dinner at Super Chicken, a restaurant which serves… guess what… CHICKEN!!! Super tasty broaster style chicken with fries. Very popular here.
The next day I continued the hiking around Cajamarca with Sandra theme. First we visited some built up hotsprings with an historical twist: this is where Atahualpa bathed. Atahualpa is famous for being the last Inca leader and for being kidnapped about 10 minutes after the Spanish showed their white faces on the shore. In the small museum there was a the mummified corpse of a 20 year old woman who was sacrificed by the water cult. I wonder: was she beautiful? Full of life? How did she face her immenent death? Did they sacrifice the best or worst of the community? Or randomly? What stories did they tell the sacrificed before to get them to go along with it? And all to believe in a meaning. Something to keep away the darkness of disorder? Anything so long as it isn’t nothing… It is better to leave a scary world that makes sense than a meaningless one… or so people believe…
After the baños we went hiking for four or five hours to some 1000 year old cave paintings. If this seems recent, keep in mind South Americans never invented writing. In terms of recording data, llama drawings were high tech in South America.
On the way I got to sample my first piece of tounge and head meat in a delicious soup. It was scary looking but tasty. We returned and went to a very late lunch at Sarah’s parent’s restaurant. Upscale. Tasty.
That night I entertained the troops with some improv card magic and the next morning I left for Celendin.