Cajamarca, How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
Day two began in our hostel, with me awakening to the sounds of water pouring onto the bathroom floor. Sebastian had “tested” the toilet and correctly hypothesized that it was not flushing correctly. His experiment had water pouring onto our bathroom floor and threatening an unpleasant hostel-style flash flood. We staved off disaster, and decided to rally our fellow men for an early morning breakfast at the Plaza de Armas.
Following breakfast, we hiked up to a chapel and cross that overlook the city. The altitude burned our lungs but the views were well worth it. Not included in this photo set: the families sitting together at the top of the garden, overlooking the city, and the Inca Seat (a historical emblem of the city). It was a tremendous way to start the day.
We later gathered in the Plaza for a parade. We were promised that the paint we threw the day before would not reappear; that Sunday’s parade was “water only” and no where near as threatening as the war we had fought the day before. We were slightly mistaken.
There was no paint; but instead there was a fanatical contingency of Peruvian parade-watchers, armed to the teeth with water weapons, eyes peeled for women and gringos that were their favorite targets. (I should note here that in Peruvian culture, gringo is not a pejorative and should not be taken as such…it took me some adjustment, but please don’t view it as a vulgar term. Here it simply means “foreign-looking person, aka blonde-hair-blue-eyed-North-Dakotan-farmkid-with-Dartmouth-T-Shirt”).
The parade’s onlookers filled the Plaza de Armas, and when dancers or musicians weren’t filling the streets, the audience passed the time with a water war. We sought refuge in a small shop with ice cream and delicious snacks. Knowing that we were prime targets for water, the shop-owner had to be begged to even allow us a small measure of safety inside of his open-framed shop.
The parade soon turned for the (better?) worst as a torrential downpour shook the city. I mean, this was rain. It was kind of funny and tragic at the same time. On the one hand, the parade carried on as if nothing had changed (except for the children who got distracted by the new puddles and had to be cajoled into continuing their routines). What did change was the audience mentality. You see, when everyone is wet, what is a little more water, right? Where once existed a measure of restraint and charitable grace for yours truly became unabated assault with water balloons, cups, you name it. In the process of getting a guided tour for Cumbe Mayo, some historic mountain ruins, I had to dodge two children with water guns only to be doused by a third toddler with a bucket of water.
In the late afternoon, we traveled to Cumbe Mayo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cumbe_Mayo). It was absolutely incredible. You will soon see a photo-set and post devoted solely to the experience.
We returned to the city from our out-of-town Cumbe Mayo expedition, only to wait two hours for a less-than-enthralling “New York Pizza.” That night we were back on an overnight bus bound for Trujillo. It was one of my favorite weekends of all time, full of incredible experiences and shared with some truly wonderful people.