The ruins at the Huaca del Arcoíris o Dragón outside Trujillo.
Ruins of Chan Chan near Trujillo.
Caballitos del mar or "horses of the sea."
Look familiar? A replica sandcastle to the one I made in Spain, this one was near Chiclayo.
A mototaxi takes us through Tarapoto.
We have earned a rest, finally in the Amazon basin, in Yurimaguas.
Other than the museums in the neighboring town detailing the impressive finds at the local sites of Sipán, we went through the large market where I got a pair of Brasilian rubber flipflops that are "the bomb" and far out-best the best of flippers on the market. And I found out that cherimoyas are anones, and this whole time I never knew... there are a lot of fruits I know by other names... more on fruits later. So the second day in Chiclayo, we went to the beach in a neighboring town, I built a couple of sandcastles with a little boy Cheche, and Dave insisted on another sunburn for his collection despite my maternal chastisement.
As I said, we then left Chiclayo, by bus, for Tarapoto. After missing the Baños de Los Inca in Cajamarca, I really wanted to stop in Moyobamba for the hot springs, but it was inconvenient, so we just continued to Tarapoto (about 14 straight hours) and arrived at 9:00 in the morning. We waited until 1:00pm for a colectivo minibus to Yurimaguas, which was finally arranged. Apparently not too many tourists are seen here, so during our long wait we met a lot of people interested in knowing why we were travelling there (why are we so white) and where we were going (why are we so strange) and how we were going to get there (why are we so white and so strange and so rich) and what we would do when we were there (do we have no shame for our affluence)?
We (finally) got on the road to Yurimaguas, ostensibly a six-hour trip, and got to sit up front. It was only minorly more comfortable, but we got great views of the towering waterfalls cascading practically on each turn of the road. Amazing streams of incessant white, falling from extreme heights, it is a wonder they don't wash the road straight away. We actually drove under a rocky overhang that dripped water (in less of a torrid rush) on the dirt road. We stopped at one cascading rivulet for people to refresh themselves, and everyone knew to drink that particular water... potable places of popular patronizement.
So, we were driving along in the careening bumpy heat, when all of a sudden, flap flaaap flaaaaaap, we have a flat tire. Quick to the "cat" to jack up the mini, and we all pile out to watch the expert spare change. Haha, spare change. I kill myself. We pile back in and drive merrily along for a few more hours when suddenly... flap flaaap flaaaaaap, we have another flat tire.... and no spare to change out. So we all pile out of the mini again, in time to see a gorgeous sunset over the selva of the Amazon basin.
But now, it's night, people are hungry, mosquitoes are out (and hungry) and we are still an hour's walk to town, and it is DARK. But people are so nice and friendly here, and soon people stop to help us, and we send to get the tire patched, and they send it back, and we get it on, pull out the cat, and pile back in, Yay! We hold our breath and roll into Yurimaguas at night, over 24 hours after we started our translandication, with no further complication. We crashed at a little hostel, and sleeeept.
And that brings us to the current day, Yurimaguas and a couple of rivers that feed a river that feeds the Amazon. I perused the market scene, and found a lot of fruits for sale that I had never heard of before, including a common one, pijuallu, that is persimmon-shaped, comes in red, orange, yellow, and green, and grows on a palm-like tree in large bunches. They are cooked before eaten and taste like sweet potatoes, but more dry, with one big pit in the center. Another fruit, umarí, is similar, but is purple or yellow, and has a bitter dry pulp around one seed, and tastes like coffee or chocolate, and might also come from some type of palm.
This other palmy fruit, the sachamangua, is hard and green, oblong, with a orange hard flesh inside that you have to cut with a knife, and tastes like coconut. I also met the guayaba brasilera which looks like a flat papaya, but is juicy and sour and has several big seeds and thin skin. Have you ever heard of the macambo? I hadn't, and still don't know what it is exactly like, as it needs to be cooked before eaten, but it is a rather large oval, corrugated wrinkled melon looking thing with edible seeds. Well, fruits are maybe not that interesting if you are not seeing or tasting them, but that is what I spent my morning learning about, with a small multitude of curious children and adults looking at me looking, in a pile behind each seller I spoke with.
Later, Dave and I hung out on the edge of the river in a wooden balcony above, drinking cold beer, eating ceviche (lime and pepper-cured raw fish with onions), talking about life and love, and watching things float down the river. Then we walked over to the port to check out the situation for tomorrow. Oh yes, and then here comes that part about touching the monkey.
We were just walking along the street when this little monkey attached by a chain to the wheel of a fruit cart stands up and put its hands up over its head. I reached my hand out in his manner, and he offered his little hand to put in mine. I had never actually touched a real live monkey before, and was duly impressed with all his padded little fingers, and his hairy little backs of hands and wrists. Such a cute baby monkey... and he played all over my arms, pressing his little feet into my hands and wrapping his little prehensile tail around my wrist and swinging around me. I offered him some fruit, which he carefully ate, leaving me the peel. How often does that happen, that a monkey holds hands with you? Wow.
So I guess we are heading into monkey country... on a dugout canoe maybe. Dave and I plan to leave Yurimaguas tomorrow on a big boat on the way to Iquitos. We will get off after only about ten hours, de-boarding at Lagunas, where we plan to enter the park. Then we will catch a boat to continue on down the river to Iquitos and the actual Amazon river, not just wandering around its tributaries, looking for manatees, pink river dolphins, and avoiding large snakes and vicious insects that lay their eggs under one's skin.
And then there are these little fish that are attracted by the smell of urine and swim up and lodge themselves in one's urethra and can only be removed by surgery, and we will try to avoid those and Definitely will not pee in the river while swimming. Pirañas aren't so mean, but they say the dolphins are really enchanted people that come out of the river at night and steal things. Well, there are a lot of dangers in the jungle, imaginary and real, which we hope to avoid. Just in case, know that I love you all and that it's been a really fun ride. I will write again as soon as I have electronic contact in Iquitos, (population 100,000 and not connected to the world by any roads whatsoever) Love and luck, Molly