Santa Cruz Trek Days 3 and 4

P1140757Day 3:

Margarita, our wonderful guide would rise an hour before everyone else. I would hear her happy laughter at 5AM from her cooking tent. She and the cook would boil water from whatever river we were camped near for the evening meal, breakfast and hiking water. At 5:45AM she would go around to each tent and slap on the side of the fabric and say in her feminine Quechua lilt: “Gud mording, tyme tu gad ap… gad ap naow… bregfast ready 10  meenoots… gad ap naow.”

The morning ritual of renewing water for the hike from the newly boiled water happened sporadically as one camper after another shuffled over to fill their bottles.

After painfully stuffing my feet into the damp boots, I rose and did my ablutions quickly and quietly. Rolled my bag and stuffed into sack, rolled the thin rubber mat, and took them to the tarp where all the common gear would later be loaded on the donkeys. Breakfast this morning consisted of very thin oatmeal and a piece of bread with butter and jam… and a cup of tea. I finished quickly and hobbled around getting my ankle prepped.

Part of my preparation that morning was taking two pain medications generously offered by Eddie. I was reluctant to take anything… but I also knew there were seven hours of hiking to do and I didn’t want to ruin the day being nagged by ankle pain.  I am grateful to both Eddie and the young French lady for offering me the pain meds that they (wisely) included in their trekking gear.

It would often rain at night, sometimes very hard. Sometimes the wind would then partially dry the outer fabric of the tents. The donkey driver and cook would be the last to leave camp. They waited for the sun to dry the rainflys before stuffing the tents into their respective bags. Then, they would pack the gear on the donkeys before beginning their trek.

Eddie and Ian, the men from England and I  began our trek before the rest of the group. We set out on the path around 6:30AM. I knew that I would eventually be passed by everyone shortly. Eddie and Ian got a lead and I lost sight of them and hiked alone until others caught up and passed me.

Margarita stayed with me for a while and informed me that there were two paths ahead. One, that went uphill to a ‘mirador’ a scenic spot. There was also a lower trail. The two trails would converge. She recommended that I take the lower trail describing that I would eventually come to a log and rock bridge that crossed the river below. She then went on ahead to be with the main group.

P1140762Above: The clouds obscured what would have been a view of Alpamayo

The previous afternoon, at the camp, while others were busy paying attention to other things, I did catch a glimpse of the peak of Alpamayo.  It was late in the day. There was an opening in the cloud cover for about ten minutes. The perfectly formed shape appeared, like a ghost… and then it was gone. Did not have time or presence of mind to get a photo. I did record it in my memory. Beautiful.

https://www.google.com.ec/search?q=alpamayo&biw=1366&bih=657&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=7LESVfr_IMOhNs2ggJAM&sqi=2&ved=0CBsQsAQ&dpr=1

Sound file morning of 3rd day. River, insects, bird sounds and me clomping along the rocky trail

P1140767Day 3 trail gradually descends to the base of the Santa Cruz river valley

 A half hour or so after making the above sound file, I had finally reached a flatter area parallel to the river. As I proceeded, I saw a person standing within 40 yards of what appeared to be the bridge. As I drew closer I recognized that it was Ian. He had also taken the lower route.  I don’t think either of us missed much in the way of scenic vistas. There was a low cloud cover obscuring the tops of the mountains.  We both saw movement high above us and recognized that our companions would be along shortly.

I led the way across the crude log bridge and picked my way through the not very obvious path. Now the trail paralleled the river. The floodplain was wide and the way was 75 yards wide. I followed barely recognizable footprints and occasional donkey scat.

Eddie and Ian had passed me and were probing ahead. I could not discern the correct path. One other couple passed by. Finally, I heard Eddie shout… “It’s here… this is the way”.  I followed others. The way required one to squat and carefully duck under a low rock outcropping. If one were to fall, it would only be a 15 foot drop, but you would be in the river.  I carefully and slowly made each move.  Taking care to remain in balance the whole time.  After this one precarious area, the path continued a gradual descent parallel with the river.

P1140775The path follows the ever descending river

The path gave way to wider vistas.  The vegetation changed. The microclimate was a bit warmer.  Huddled in the clefts were different kinds of shrubs and small trees, agaves, and cactus. Saw small birds, tiny butterflies,  and even a fleeting chameleon. The sound of the river was ever present,  Natural symphonic background music to enhance the spectacular valley scenery.

P1140798…And at times the way would ascend briefly above the river

P1140799…Only to descend again and return to the rivers edge

 My senses were tingling from the whole experience of this altogether amazing Natural encounter. I found that I was not in a hurry to ‘be done with it’. I was savoring every vista, every sound. My right ankle was cranky and wanted me to pay attention to it’s pain. The only thing to be done was to enjoy as much as possible of this incredible experience and to ignore the sharpening aches. Some trekkers covered the same (or longer) distance in 5 and half hours (or less). It required 7 hours for me to finish the 3rd days hike before arriving at camp.

We all knew that this night’s camp would be the last time to enjoy this temporary community of international companions. We stayed a little longer in the meal tent. We laughed, and ate, and drank our tea. A bittersweet mixture of the shared joy of our mutual experience and sadness at knowing we would soon go our own ways was present.

Above: sound file of the trekkers coaxing our guide, Margarita to sing a little in her beautiful Quechua voice

Above: The trekkers and Margarita coax Alecia, the cook, to sing with Margarita. Trekkers joined in as impromtu percussion by clapping their hands to the Andes inspired song.

The evening meal over, and the spontaneous concert ended; one by one, we retired to our respective tents knowing that the next day’s trek would be much shorter and our journey together would shortly be over.

Day 4:

The next morning Eddie reported that he had seen the Hubble telescope and the international space station dancing across the early morning sky.  I was up around 3 AM and had seen a dazzlingly bright partial moon with stars visible even with the moonlight.  The sound of the river ever sang it’s powerful lullabye to each still in their respective  dreamlands.

I had taken a few generic xtra strength ibuprophen tablets with my morning tea. My right ankle is almost always cranky and stiff in the morning. I knew that I  had hiked the most difficult part of this trek. Today was the last day.

I have learned that it is unwise to lose focus on matters at hand. At hand, here, was the reality that although my trek was ALMOST over… there remained perhaps four hours more… all downhill and on trails which overhang a river valley, in places far below.  This would still require a ‘careful’ attitude.

The thought uppermost in my mind was caution. I was passed by everyone during my hike.  The French ladies, the Korean lady and the couple from French Guiana stayed with me for a time. They too seemed to not be in a hurry.  Margarita stayed with me the longest. Then she informed me that the rest of the hike would be fairly easy, well marked, and all gradually downhill. I reminded her that I have a whistle if I felt in need of assistance. She went on ahead.

The sun was bright and the canyon was lit up brightly. My job was to carefully, cautiously, and more or less continuously to put one foot in front of the other, use the trekking poles judiciously, and eventually catch up to my companions, somewhere ahead, in a small village below.

The last day’s hike took me three and a half hours. Eddie and Ian reported arriving in the small village about and hour and a half from departing camp.

The following photos are of the last leg of the journey:

P1140819P1140827P1140835P1140851P1140880P1140891P1140896

Ian and Eddie had been at this place for almost two hours  by the time I got there. They had the proprietor of this tiny establishment putting as many beers as could be found in the freezer. The rest of the group had trickled in at their own pace. Needless to say, by the time I got there, most were not feeling any pain.

Today was the only day that the donkeys did not beat me. They and the gear showed up about a half hour after I arrived. They were unloaded and the gear went back up on the van. It would be another three hours in the van before we arrived back in Huaraz.

A group tip collection was taken up. Eddie officiated. Some offered their own gratuities according to their own inner assessments. I felt it a privilege to offer Margarita my own personal offering of gratitude and respect for a job well done.

P1140912The van ride back to Huaraz

It must be said that the locals of Ancash and all those that serve in the tourist trade near Huaraz show extraordinary patience with these strange invaders from other parts of the world who bring their money, their different languages, music, and  who exhibit a range of actions illustrating differing  ideas about what it means to ‘have a good time’.

I felt that the van ride home was a bit ‘over the top’, and might have been a little too loud and crazy for the driver, Alicia the cook and Margarita, our guide… but Eddie was bent on sharing his stored music with a captive audience. He was displaying the knowledge of his many years spent in the music industry and the new technology available to do that sharing.

Everyone went away with an unforgettable experience. No one was injured.  I felt that as a group, we served as an example that Humans have as much ‘in common’ as there may exist ‘differences’.  We were kind and patient with one another. We showed respect for our hosts and for their incredibly beautiful environs.

We came, we saw, we shared, we enjoyed.

Next up: Huaraz to Huanuco

Santa Cruz Trek: Days 1 and 2

P1140599Van pick up at  my hostel 6:30AM at the start of the first day.

 I signed up for the trek through the owner of my hostel. I did not have any idea how many people would be going, nor did I have much of a clue as to what I might actually encounter. I read about  the Santa Cruz Trek online. I knew it  consisted of  4 days hiking and 3 nights camping. I knew there would be spectacular scenery.  Several sites billed it as ‘moderate’ in difficulty.  I felt I could negotiate ‘moderate’.

I had also followed the recommended procedure of spending at least 2 days and nights in Huaraz prior to the trek (if coming from the coast/ sea level)  to give the body a chance to adjust to the the altitude.  I spent four nights in Huaraz and I walked around town 3 to 4 hours each day.  My backpack had everything I could think I might need.  I rented a pair of trekking poles from an outfitter.  I was as  prepared as I knew how to be… or so I thought as the van pulled up.

15 people including the driver were in the van when I piled in . I made the 4th person in the rear bench seat. There was a mix of young men and women. The group was quiet during the ride from Huaraz to Yungay.

March is in the low season for Huaraz based tourism. Different tour ‘operators’ put our one group together. My sense is that the many different tour operators and guides know one another very well and ‘share’ when it’s off season.

Huaraz to Yungay: 3 hours. Then the van turns onto a gravel road continuing on an uphill curvy route. We stopped at a place where some in the group had a quick breakfast. Not far from the breakfast stop is the park entrance. We were all required to sign in and pay 65 soles each, the park entry fee (good for 14 days).

The van ride continued past the park office. We stopped to admire Llanganuco Lake. Many places in Huaraz offer a visit to this lake as a ‘day trip’. We continued onward uphill beyond the lake.

P1140603Llanganuco

P1140621Above is looking back on the road we traversed. Encountered 15 minutes of sleet on the way up. 

 We arrived  Yanama around 1PM. Next step was to unload the gear from the top of the van. Next, the donkeys were loaded with the mess tents, food, propane, and tents/sleeping bags for the group.  Each person had their own packs and water to carry.

P1140624 P1140641

Began the first steps of the trek about 1:30PM

I learned that we would have one guide. Her name was Margarita. There would be one donkey driver and one cook. These people, (and the donkeys) made it all possible for the rest of us (the paying clients).

The trek would entail 48 kms total. Day one hike would be a short one, three hours (four for me) before setting up camp. Day two would be the ‘tough one’… 7 hours total;  4 all uphill to Punta Union a 15,000 ft mountain pass… and 3 hours down a steep, very rocky course. Day three would not be as much of an uphill course, but it would also take 6 hours to complete before camp. Day four would be mostly downhill and it would take 3 and a half hours (for me… some did it in less than 2 hours)

P1140650

P1140652P1140659 P1140662P1140676

Above: Scenes of first day’s hike.

I lagged behind everyone on every day of the journey. Both of my ankles have sustained past injuries and I’m not as spry as I once was. This did not cause a problem for anyone. Everyone hikes at their own pace.  I will admit that my group picked up my slack by pitching the tents every night without my assistance.  They were all very patient with me.

Food was memorably delicious only because it was hot and shared. We all turned in shortly after dark. Breakfast would be served at 6AM. Everyone had been informed that the following days journey would be the most challenging.

A tiny bit of confusion swirled around which of the other 12 clients would be my tent companions.  I wanted that decision to be made by the guide or by common consent within the group. I wound up tenting with the young men from Switzerland and Quebec. I slept in the middle, because I needed to exit the tent several times each night.

The ‘client group’ consisted of: two young women from France traveling together,  a husband/wife from Argentina (I think) who were now living in French Guiana, another couple: young woman from Germany, young man from Brazil, two men from England who had been pals for many years, and five solo travelers; a young woman from Korea, a young woman from New Jersey, a male teen from Quebec, a young man from Switzerland, and myself. Most of the group were 20’s or 30’s. The English men were 40ish and 50ish. And me… the senior of the group. By the end of the 2nd night they were calling me ‘Popi’.

Photos below were taken during day 2 of the trek:

P1140684Eddie and Ian

P1140686The Quechua guide; Margarita and Carlos

P1140699P1140706P1140707Everyone has passed me… patient Margarita assures me that I am strong and can make it to the pass… up, up, up. One foot in front of the other… 

P1140711I made it!  4 and a half hours, uphill every step.  At 15, 584 feet above sea level.

P1140720At Punta Union Pass. From upper left: two French ladies, the French Guyana couple, Ian, Eddie, the New Jersey gal, Carlos the Swiss farmer, the German girl and her Brazilian boyfriend, Nickolaus from Quebec, me, the young Korean lady.

P1140738The real heroes of the trek

We stopped ate some lunch at the pass. Most of my companions had been there for an hour by the time I arrived. They continued on ahead of me toward day two camp. The donkeys always passed me in the afternoon. I didn’t mind. I preferred everyone hiking on ahead so I didn’t feel like I was inhibiting their enjoyment.  Margarita would hike on ahead with the cook and then they would sit and wait for me to catch up… then they would go on ahead again.  I had the Spot device and I always carry a whistle.

The next three and a half hours were very hard on my ankle. There were many smallish rounded rocks… and it is well understood that downhill inclines are tough on knees. I could not have done this trek without the trekking poles.  I was careful and took my time. Did not break any speed records, but I enjoyed the scenery and ignored the ankle pain.

Back at camp that night, everyone could see I was hurting. One of the French ladies offered me some of her ibubrophen. I felt like kind of dumb for not thinking of pain meds for myself.

Enjoyed dinner and the good natured international language banter.

The camps were always adjacent to running water. The soothing nature sounds blended in with visions of the days scenery as I slept, waking on the hour almost to the minute through the night.

Had ankle and knee pain, but that was soothed by thoughts of the next day’s (7 hour) trek that was reportedly going to be much less demanding than today’s journey.

Being in Nature and sensing that you are part of it all causes all of Life’s dramas… and real and/or imagined pains to fade into the darkness… to be absorbed in the sounds of water negotiating gravity and rocks… seeking it’s level.

The next day would begin just as this one had… dawn in the crisp mountain air… muffled murmurings of younger companions, fumbling half awake in unfamiliar tents and sleeping bags… shuffling about half clothed, huddling themselves together, thinking  of warm mate de coca and breakfast.  Then plodding forward, one foot after another through fairyland scenery,  sun rays glistening off the white of the snow capped peaks.

P1140741P1140743

Next: Santa Cruz Trek Days 3 and 4

Whereas Huaraz

P1140344Above a woman crosses the main street of Huaraz

Huaraz is a seven hour bus ride from Trujillo. The route turns inland and up into the Andes. Huaraz weather is radically different from  coastal towns. One can choose one’s preferred temperature by choosing one’s altitude. Huaraz is 10,000 feet above sea level.

The people of Huaraz suffered a massive earthquake in the 1970’s.  It destroyed most examples of colonial architecture .  Tens of thousands of people were affected, many homes were completely destroyed. The major aspects of climate and geography of  Earth life do not go away and cannot be ‘fixed’ by modern science.  Rock slides, mud slides, avalanches, and earthquakes are a way of life for people in the Andes. It is not a matter of ‘if’, but only a matter of ‘when’.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1970_Ancash_earthquake

Nevertheless, the people of this region have seen fit to rebuild, employing more modern techniques and materials in their buildings. People do what they can to forget disasters and to continue their lives as though they won’t happen again.  This seems to be true almost universally.

Huaraz and the Cordierra Blanca are considered by many as the  ‘Switzerland of the Andes’.  More than fifty peaks exceed 15,000 feet in altitude in the Ancash region of Peru. The high tourist season is during the Peruvian/Andes  dry season: June/August.  In the dry season, tens of thousands of trekers and alpine ‘technical climbers’ visit.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordillera_Blanca

March is nearing the end of the wet season. There are still many rainy days and peaks are often obscured by cloud covering. Prices of tours and hotels understandably correspond to the seasonal conditions.

I signed up for a 4 day 3 night hike. I accomplished the Santa Cruz trek, about 48 kilometers total, which includes a 15,000 foot pass (Punta Union pass).

http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20130724-trekking-perus-santa-cruz-trail

Huaraz and surrounding environs are unique, spectacular and amazing.

The internet, cell phones, large flat panel screens, television, and modern technology have changed the psychological and emotional environment here. Quechua speaking farmers and vendors wearing traditional hats and clothing are seen with cell phones up to their ears.  Their children are playing video games, texting, and exploring all manner of world wide web content.  The interests and information available to anyone/everyone brings constant change.

Was in a restaurant yesterday where there were two 3 x 4 foot screens. All the customers were focused on the screens. A soccer game was shown live. Espn was the network feed.  There was an open bottle of Inca Kola (is yellow and tastes like bubble gum) on each table.

One of my very favorite things that exist throughout Colombia, Ecuador and Peru is the abundance, variety, and affordability of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, meat and all manner of food products.  These basic things are grown and marketed by a large percentage of the population. All one need do is to locate  the local ‘mercado central’… the central market. I’ve not been to any town/city in Latin America that lacks one.

P1140325 P1140334P1140337

Basic foodstuffs are not monopolized/dominated by a small group of corporate entities. It is not difficult to make healthy food choices here for anyone. People here have a relationship with their Natural surroundings and still have a fundamental understanding of what ‘good food’ is and where it comes from.

People here watch soccer instead of football or baseball, they speak Spanish or Quechua instead of English, they wear different styles and brands of clothing, they listen to different kinds of music, they eat different types of food… yet Life is strangely very similar.

Daily I pass individual entrepreneurs; tiny sidewalk storefronts and sidewalk vendors of all sorts.  I see book vendors, fruit vendors, small bakeries, tiny restaurants, ‘techno shops’… offering cell phones, cell service or offering to change internal cards, sell usb sticks/memory cards… tour guides, backpacking equipment, hardware stores, small ‘schools’/learning institutions of differing types of instruction, hotels/hostels/hostals…  all these (and more) can be seen blatantly and professionally advertised in Huaraz during a fifteen minute walk.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huaraz

http://wikitravel.org/en/Huaraz

P1140562Above: A view the city of Huaraz from Mirador Rataquenua

According to archeologists one of the oldest (verified by carbon dating of artifacts) known human settlements in South America was discovered at Guitarerro cave,  not far from Huaraz.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guitarrero_Cave

The Ancash archeological museum is directly across the street from the Plaza de Armas. This museum is home to perhaps the largest collection of early human stone carvings.

P1140368Sidewalk view of entrance to the museum

P1140377A rock  carving display

P1140407

P1140409An outdoor garden of the museum features hand carved wooden benches and walkways to take in the  many authentic stone carvings from the Chavin culture at your leisure.

Next: The Santa Cruz Trek

Trujillo: A Blend of Epochs and Cultures

Below: A short video showing a bit of Trujillo, Peru

This was my first  experience of Trujillo, Peru. The last time I passed near Trujillo I was on my epic motorcycle journey and did not venture into the city. I only saw the very outskirts from the Pan American highway.  The air was filled with the smell of burning plastic (they burn trash to get rid of it in many parts of Peru).  I had been on the motorcycle tour for fourteen months and was intent on returning Northward to Ecuador and Colombia and so did not stop to see the city.

I found Trujillo to be a very pleasant surprise. It is a large city, yet it  has a surprising smaller,  village feel to it.  Great food, surprising archeological sites, friendly people, and a blending of the old and the new…  will be found in Trujillo.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trujillo,_Peru

P1130964A typical bus window scene from Piura to Trujillo facing West

There are several bus services that go from Piura all the way to Lima. Finding a bus service that stops at a particular town along the way takes some doing.  I found that there were only a few that offered ‘direct’ service to Trujillo from Piura.

The service I chose was Ittsa. There was no indication that it would be any different from any of the other services. I bought the ticket the previous day from departure. When I arrived to board the bus I discovered that travelers must ‘precheck’  luggage too large to go as ‘carry on’. Then I saw that the Ittsa folks  have a metal detector and a security checkpoint complete with two (non government) employees going through the motions.

I ‘checked’ my large yellow case and proceeded to the ‘security’ checkpoint with my smaller blue case. I was told it was too big and had to be stowed in the luggage compartment and could not go with me as a carry on. I explained that I had traveled on many buses and airplanes with that case. I explained that it was especially designed as a carry on case.

The security man was adamant and suggested I check with the management. I got out of line, went to the office and explained the same thing… was given the same response; the bag could not board with me.

I could have then demanded that my other bag be removed and I could have demanded a refund. I did not.  I knew that this was a private company and that the decisions were not ‘mandated’ by law. I did not like it, but I chose to do the ride instead of spending another night and finding another service.

This is a bus service that pretends it’s an airline. There are ‘stewardesses’, food is served, movies are shown on overhead screens and terminals have ‘check in’ and luggage retrieval stations… just like an airline.  The ride was 8 hours from Piura to Trujillo.  Both bags came out of the bus and all was well.

P1130972The Ittsa bus terminal in Trujillo

Got a taxi from the terminal to take me to ‘el centro’ .  There are always several hostals to choose from near the center of town. I found one that fit my budget, a few blocks from the Plaza de Armas.

P1140244Plaza de Armas, Trujillo.  Trujillo cathedral (yellow) in background, constructed 1647-1666

My journey from Mancora to Piura to Trujillo was required to get me to my real goal of experiencing the Cordierra Blanca mountains <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordillera_Blanca>.  I would be in Trujillo only a  few days before continuing on to Huaraz.

Learn about the archeological sites nearTrujillo:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moche_culture         http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chim%C3%BA_culture

P1140019Cerro Blanco Moche  in the background as seen from the Huaca del Sol sacrifical area

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huaca_del_Sol

P1140058Ancient Moche carvings each panel is about 5 x 5 feet

Visited the Huaca de Moche museum before proceeding on to walk through the archaeological dig that has been ongoing for many years. The scaffolding and the roof structures have been built to prevent deterioration/weathering of the now uncovered walls. It is estimated that the Moche culture existed somewhere between 800 to 100 BC.  The Moche built aqueducts similar to the Roman version for channeling water to irrigate their crops.

P1140033Moche ceramic murals

The tour went back to town for lunch before proceeding to see some of the Chimu culture which came after the Moche.

P1140068Fresh fish ceviche, large kernel corn, yucca, and yam for lunch

Then on to Chan Chan: < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chan_Chan >

First stop was at the Huaca Arco Iris O Dragon site. Below are some photos of that place. P1140093P1140097Above: workers building a roof structure to protect the impressive unearthed art of the Chimu culture Below: Large uncovered relief carvings depicting a rainbow… guessed to have been emitted by some dragon like creature(s)

We walked around this site for a half hour. The Arco Iris site is situated in a residential city environment.

We reboarded the bus  before proceeding to the main courtyard areas of Chan Chan a few miles away, and not near the city area. The entire area of Chan Chan is estimated to be around 20 square kilometers and had an estimated population of around 30,000 Chimu people.

P1140125Massive adobe walls of Chan Chan leading to expansive open ceremonial courtyard


Sounds of gravel and wind while walking Chan Chan site

P1140136Relief motif depicting fish of the Humboldt current.

The Chimu people were fishermen. When the Spaniards arrived there they encountered several groups of people who sailed in reed boats off the coast.

P1140151Artistic walls depicting various aspects of the belief system of the Chimu people extended for acres

After walking around this huge complex for over an hour we then headed to the small beach town adjacent to Trujillo, Huanchaco.

P1140204Local tourists entering the fishing pier at Huanchaco

P1140225Reed boats still made and still used by fishermen line the beach of Huanchaco

P1140214Surf and surfers to the South side of the fishing pier

The Moche/Chan Chan/Hanchaco tour was about 10 hours including the stop for lunch. My guide spoke only Spanish. I am sure there are many other options. I was very pleased, learned a lot,  and thought it was a very good value.

My few days and nights in Trujillo were very enjoyable. I can heartily recommend Trujillo to anyone near the area. You won’t be disappointed.  Much to do. Great weather. Great food options. Excellent museums.

I did not take in a  Marinera dance show nor did I see the skill of Peruvian Paso horsemanship… next time.

Next up: Huaraz and the Ancash region

 

Mancora: Pizarro, Horses, Surfers, Fishermen, Hemmingway and Oil

There is nothing anyone can do with the past.  In a way, the past is not real because it is no longer ‘in existence’. There really is only NOW… but, sometimes images come to us in half awake dream scapes,  phantom images casting grotesque shadows on the walls of dark subconscious canyons.

Historical accounts of Human activity are similar to our own personal dreams.  The study of Human history is a way of determining our current position of NOW and a way of looking at Human behavior from a longer perspective. Have Humans changed? Are we ‘making progress’?  Are we ‘improving’?

Or is the Human saga best thought of in terms of  some kind of ‘spiritual evolution’… that takes place within each individual Human,  on a ‘one at a time’ basis?

Every circumstance or way of Life has it’s ups and downs, it’s positives and negatives. Who can say which way of life or circumstance is ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than another? In the end, each person will have a unique collection of their own Life experiences;  some  happy memories, some tragic ones, some joyful ones, some painful ones.  Might as well enjoy the ride as much as we can. It beats the alternative.

Evidence suggests that this ride (Life) has a beginning, a middle, and… an ending some day.

P1130717Above: Me on an 8yr old Arabian gelding who loves to gallop. No need to be shod, they only run in the sand. Photo North of Mancora main beach.

I’d like my Life story to have a happy ending and I’d like the story of my Life to have a comedic flair rather than having it tending toward the tragic end of the spectrum.

Our lives seem to be experiments which imply an unspoken intention of discovering  how much or how little control we really have in ‘writing the stories of our Lives’. Each individual Life is an experiment; begging the  centuries old question: ‘free will’  or  ‘predestination’?

As I wander around what is now Peru a few background thoughts are always present. One is the background thought, that everywhere I go I am witnessing the results of the Spanish arrival in the ‘new world’ and how that changed the lives of indigenous tribal groups, and how the subsequent events changed the European world.

There were no horses, no cows, no steel,  and no gunpowder in ‘the new world’  when the Spaniards arrived. (there had been horses in what is now the Americas before they became extinct sometime during the Pleistocene era)  <http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/quaternary/pleistocene.php>

I visited the tranquil fishing village of Caleta La Cruz Pizarro;  the exact beach landing  from where Francisco Pizarro launched his conquest of the Incan empire in 1532.  Notice that ‘conquest’ is the root for the word that describes those early expeditionary forces: ‘conquistadores’.

Vasco Nunez de Balboa was the first European to lay eyes on the Pacific ocean; successfully crossing the isthmus of what is now Panama in 1513. Balboa and Pizarro were acquainted.

Pizarro soon repeated Balboa’s trek. He led two ‘unsuccessful’ expeditions Southward from Panama having forged alliances with other men of ambition. The governorship of Panama had to ‘authorize’ the provision of further expeditions. That authorization wavered. A few years passed, with many disappointments and a few encouraging encounters.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francisco_Pizarro

Ever heard of drawing a ‘line in the sand’ ? The man to whom that is attributed is none other than Francisco Pizarro.  He drew that line in the sand at Isla de Gallo (actually a small peninsula on the Pacific coast of Colombia). Only thirteen of the many men there crossed that line, committing themselves to join Pizarro in future missions into Peru. These were later named the ‘famous  thirteen’ (los trece de la fama).

Pizarro sailed back to Spain to make a deal directly with the King… Charles I.  In 1529 Pizarro received a ‘royal decree’ from Queen Isabel naming him governor and ‘captain general’ of what is now Peru. Now he was on a roll and had more incentive than ever to proceed.

When he returned in 1532, he and his band of experienced and determined mercenaries, with scores of  horses, landed on a beach near what is now the small town of Culeta de cruz Pizzaro. It was here that the priest which accompanied him planted the first ‘Christian’ cross in these parts, and where Pizarro claimed the whole place for his king, the pope… and himself.  It was from this beach that they launched their invasion as  they marched inland toward Cajamarca, stole the Incan gold, and murdered thousands of Incas, including Atahualpa, the Incan ‘king’.

The Spanish/European version is that these were brave men fighting for God, Jesus, the pope and the king.  Pizarro (who was mostly illiterate and born to a woman ‘out of wedlock’ ; a big no no in those days) …  rose to immense power and successfully pulled off one of the biggest gold heists in history.  The Pizarro tale is a case study of how ‘history’ repaints one of the most outrageous crimes perpetrated by ambitious, greedy, ruthlessly brutal men as a fine example of religious devotion and utmost patriotic courage.  Odd, isn’t it?

Nine years later, one of his brother’s killed  an early partner; Diego de Almagro.  < http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/16724/Diego-de-Almagro  >   Not long afterwards, Amargo’s family has Francisco Pizarro murdered, in retaliation.

Francisco Pizarro:  A classic, ‘rags to riches’ / ‘he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword’ story… all rolled into one.

To some, Francisco Pizarro was a ‘heroic’ figure, a ‘man’s man’. To others (the Incas, for example) he was a despicable, ruthlessly brutal, liar, cheat, thief, and murderer.

Below is a fairly accurate video account:

I passed through the small town of Zorritos,   <http://pttc.mines.edu/Peru.pdf > where the first oil well was drilled in South America in 1863 (330 years after Pizarro’s plundering). Drillers continue to drill and now oil platforms can be seen near the coast all along Northern Peru.

Visited Cabo Blanco,  < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabo_Blanco,_Peru >  where Hemmingway watched as the film version of his ‘Old Man And The Sea’ was being made.

Below: Videos of surfing the Cabo tube when the swell is in:

Below: Black marlin fishing action from the days when there were many ‘granders’ caught near Cabo Blanco.

Below: Photos of Papa Hemmingway at Cabo

https://www.google.com.ec/search?q=hemmingway+at+cabo+blanco&biw=1366&bih=655&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=x4TwVJbwCIiWgwS2_YEI&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAQ

Next: Trujillo

En Route: Pedro Ruiz/Bagua/Chiclayo/Mancora

Departed Cuispes and Pedro Ruiz Feb 14th and proceeded onward through  Bagua Grande (one more ‘collectivo’ (van) ride) to arrive in Bagua (Bagua Chica to the locals).

P1130419The collectivo (van) service office in Pedro Ruiz

P1130431View of the two main hostels in Pedro Ruiz from the collectivo office. (Gas station sign to right of photo)

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P1130447Normal, everyday rock slides along road from Pedro Ruiz to Bagua Grande during the rainy season Dec-April. Nearly all roads in the Andes run parallel with a river… this one; the Rio Utcabamba.

Spent three nights in Bagua. Severe asthma symptoms showed up. It is significant to mention that there are more pharmacies in Bagua center than there are restaurants. I heard several people hacking and coughing. The roads are mostly torn up and there is dust everywhere and on everything… including plants. The smell of burning plastic filled the heavy, hot, dusty air. People dispose of their garbage by burning it.

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P1130499Bagua streets are under construction, dust everywhere… including the lungs of the inhabitants

Thought it wise to re-think my original plans of proceeding North to Sarameriza  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarameriza_%28Peru%29 with the goal of seeing  the Pongo de Manseriche… http://www.dendrobates.org/captivus_trip1.html         http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pongo_de_Manseriche

Following that, had planed to descend this remote section of the Rio Maranon to Lagunas; then upriver on the Rio Huallaga to Yurimaguas.

Because of the health issues I chose to not pursue that plan at this time. Didn’t want to get ‘stuck upriver without a paddle’… In other words was concerned about my health issues and the possible lack of services… pharmacies.

Came up with a new game plan… visit the Northern coast of Peru. To get to the coast from Bagua (on public transport) one must first go to Jaen. From the map it looked like there would be a direct service to Talara from Jaen. That is not how it works.

Rode a bus from Bagua to Jaen. Spent one night in Jaen.  Inquired about direct service from Jaen to Talara at terminal in Jaen. Was informed that one must first go to Chiclayo… a considerable distance South of Talara. (Later found out that there IS a service going direct from Jaen to Piura… would have taken it had I been informed of it’s existence. The ‘new service’ is with Moviltours… Jaen to Piura and vice versa)

Sounds complicated doesn’t it?  It is a bit confusing and frustrating. That is what life is like in parts of Peru. The most ‘civilized’ parts of Peru tend to be on the coast. Lima being the capital. Obviously, it is easier to build roads on flat terrain  (the coast) than in the mountains. Peru is a large country. 80% or more of the population live in the major cities… Lima, Chimbote, Chiclayo, Trujillo, Tumbes, Arequipa; all on on very near the coast.

Bus from Jaen to Chiclayo took six hours. The bus passed through mountainous terrain, back and forth, up and down,  along a road carved into the mountainside, following the natural river canyon features.

P1130542A picture says a thousand words: These plastic chairs are chained together in the bus station in Jaen.

P11305465 hours of this (and on much steeper/curvier areas)  before reaching the lowlands. 6 hours total Jaen to Chiclayo.

By the time I got to Chiclayo I was tired, frustrated, hot, and still not feeling well. The bronchial issues remained. Inhaling Bagua’s burning plastic fumes and pulverized dust that sometimes is wet with tropical rain where chickens, vultures, rats, insects and who knows what manner of bacteria, mold, dust mites live… is not conducive to promoting good bronchial health.

I am sure Chiclayo has many wonderful things to see and do. I didn’t do or see any of them. Stayed three nights in a small hotel near the bustling center. I walked no more than  ten blocks from the hotel my entire stay, emerging from my room only for meals.

My new game plan: 1. Get to the Pacific coast and breathe clean sea air and eat fresh seafood.  2. Get rid of the bronchial issues. 3. Visit the place where, in 1532, Francisco Pizarro planted the first ‘christian’ cross in what became Peru just before he and his handful of brutal mercenary thugs went on to plunder Incan gold and slaughter thousands of Incas. 4. Visit where Papa Hemingway watched as the film version of his ‘The Old Man And The Sea’ was shot… he caught a 750lb. marlin while there. 5. Visit the Westernmost point in South America.

Had to do more ‘boots on the ground’ investigations as to how to get from Chiclayo to Mancora.  Had a taxi take me to the various bus lines in town and inquired in person. The company: Transportes Chiclayo offered the best service to Talara.

Checked out of my Chiclayo hotel at 6AM after my third night. A cab delivered me to the bus station by 6:30AM. Was  enroute to Talara  at 7:05AM.

P1130576Typical scenery Chiclayo to Piura

P1130596Counted 30 (or so) very large windmills near Sullana

The road to the North coastal region from Chiclayo does not go inland.  It sticks to the lowlands. It is mostly flat and straight… therefore much faster than the Jaen to Chiclayo route.  First major city is Piura… 3 hours from Chiclayo. Next: Piura to Sullana… about 45 minutes. Next: Sullana to Talara… about an hour.  Had to change buses in Talara to get a different service (Eppo) from Talara to Mancora. Several small stops along the way… an hour and a half.

Arrived Mancora Saturday, Feb 21st. One full week later from departing Pedro Ruiz.

By the time I checked into my hostel in Mancora it was about 6PM. Had been up since 5AM and traveling the whole day.

Needless to say, I was beat.

Next blog post: Mancora

 

 

 

 

Pabellon

My experience of Pabellon took place late in the afternoon on Friday 13th, 2015.

P1130392Along the trail…

I have traveled enough to have developed a sense of particular geographies and the way that Humans relate to those geographies.  Humans can, do, and have adapted (developed means to survive in) to conditions present in harsh as well as idyllic environments.

It is my experience that Humans who live in idyllic environments don’t know how good they have it… and conversely… Humans who live in difficult, ugly, or harsh environments often do not know how (comparatively) bad they have it. That has to do with adaptation… and with not having experience from which to compare.

P1130394Plant Life Adapted To The Cloud Forest Environment

Biologists study and point out various strategies that plants, animals… including Humans, and other Life forms use to survive and adapt to different environments. Biologists know that it is the conditions that exist in a particular environment that cause living creatures to behave differently from one another.

Buckminster Fuller pointed out that Humans seem to be a creature that has the ability to alter it’s own environment more drastically than any other creature.  That would indicate that Humans have the ability to ‘control/alter’ their own rate, state or direction of their own ‘development’… perhaps more so than any other (known) creature.

There are (environments) places, experiences, and fellow creatures that are so ‘special’ that they defy description in language.  Some ‘Naturescapes’ come close to embodying the ideal of transcendent beauty.  Some places and pieces of time are so personally sacred and mystical that they can not be shared… even with another Human who may be present at the same place and time.  Such was my experience of Pabellon.

It was late in the afternoon and it had just rained. There was a palpable sense of the primeval and essential that seeped into my being on this hike. The tone of the birds and the gentle sounds of water dripping from the leaves onto the forest floor caused me to deepen my appreciation for this time and place. The slant of the late afternoon sun was further diffused in the mist.

Birds and hiking sounds in the wet late afternoon cloud forest

My ankle was aching from both the Yumbilla and the Chinata hikes… Chinata earlier the same day.  The trail was wet and muddy, There were several places where on a slight downhill slope my boot slid in the clay like mud. I am not ‘superstitious’, but I am affected by the stories that float around in my culture. (part of my ‘mental environment’) I was aware that it was Friday the 13th and that I was tired and in slight pain and that this was a special place.  I had to keep inventing ‘best case scenarios’ while simultaneously enjoying the sense of adventure.

I had developed the habit of being ready to take a photo or video with one hand and capturing sound with the digital recorder in the other  hand.  Both hands were occupied with these devices. I try to capture a ‘raw’ sense of what I am experiencing to share it with the few people who look at this blog.  Given my condition and the condition of the trail I soon realized that I should pay more attention to not slipping in the mud than taking audio, video or photos.

I did slip and fall while crossing a small stream where the rocks were covered in algae. My camera is waterproof. The digital recorder is not. I do keep the recorder in a plastic zip lock bag in my shirt pocket when I’m not using it.  When I slipped and fell in the stream I was holding the recorder in my left hand. The recorder made contact with the water very briefly. I immediately pulled a microfiber cloth from my back pants pocket and soaked the water off.  I reckoned that to be good enough for a Friday 13th experience.  From then on, I was much more careful.  I no longer walked carrying these devices in my hands. I would stop to take a photo or recording.

Just minutes before arriving at the waterfall there is a rock overhang where you can see people have camped beneath. There was a used campfire site under the rock. That is the last photo or video I have of this hike.  The battery for the camera ran completely out of juice.

I have no photos or videos of Pabellon. Fitting, I think. Lao Tzu could have predicted it. There are some things the Tao wishes to preserve in privacy. They are mystical and sacred. They can not be ‘translated’ into photos or videos or sound files or words. Some things can only be etched into a Human soul by experiencing them.  Such was Pabellon for me.

Attempting To Describe The Indescribable

Even though Mario, my guide was right there seeing and hearing the same things… he did not have my experience. It is true that this hike and place was new to me and that for Mario it was just another day in a place he had been to many times.  Adaptation can sometimes cause an atrophy of ‘awareness’.

P1130404Mario on the trail ahead

To distinguish the ‘sacred’ from the ‘profane’ one must value and hone one’s sense of awareness. It is in that awareness that arises the sense of immense gratitude for the experience of Being Alive.

If you are to enjoy Life to the fullest, take care , my friends, that you cultivate the ability to savor those rare and precious moments in your Life when you sense how very close you are to experiencing a state of TRANSCENDENCE… a glimpse into the Nature of Eternal Perfection against the background of the impermanent.

Thoughts While On The Return Hike

 

Got A ‘New Step’ in Cuispes

(This is the second blog entry about my experience in Cuispes. Am writing this from a small hotel in Bagua. (not Bagua Grande)

Robot maintenance issues (health concerns) demand that I alter my original plans.  Have been poring over my detailed map of Peru (ITMB publications) and gave myself a few days for the subconscious to digest some things. New plan is to proceed to the North coast of Peru and see the Westernmost point of South America and the actual scene of Ernest Hemingway’s ‘The Old Man and The Sea’: Cabo Blanco.)


Mule ride and hike to Chinata falls: Friday 13, 2015

P1130076My mule pal that carried me up to the entry of the hiking trail leading to Chinata waterfall

Mules are stronger, and generally healthier than horses and larger than burros. They are the ideal pack animal for farmers in the highlands. My mule was completely accustomed to carrying heavy loads up and down the mountain. Most of his cargo, though is potatos, yucca, plantain, or other produce. I’m pretty sure my 160 lbs. seemed about normal to him.

I always talk to any animal that has ‘agreed’ to lend me their strength.  This guy was very healthy, calm, and very well mannered.  I also appreciated the fact that Mario (my guide) did not use a bit in his mouth, only an elementary halter made of rope loosely tied around his head. He stopped occasionally along the way grab a mouthful of forage for breakfast.

I found that the legend about mules being stubborn is probably a myth. (at least it was for this one). Rather, I saw that he was very deliberate. He would not allow Mario to ‘control’ his pace. He demanded that he set his own pace.  He halted at precarious looking places to check them out before proceeding. He stopped at each ‘intersection’ along the trail, like a car stopping at a stop sign. He looked both ways before proceeding. He did not stop that often and only briefly. Mario led the way and coaxed him onward, not jerking on the rope but gently pulling on it. Mario never got angry nor ever raised his voice to the mule. They were partners.

(The following link will give insight into how some of the Cuispes trails were improved in 2009/2010 with the help of USA volunteers/funding and the work of local Humans and oxen: http://amazonwaterfalls.org/old/Photo%20Gallery/Cuispes%20Trail%20CM/CMTrailPhotos.html)

This mule’s behavior did not match the word stubborn in my opinion.  Seems to me he was cautiously smart. It’s not like he doesn’t accomplish his requested tasks. It’s just that he won’t be ‘forced’ into doing something he doesn’t feel is correct.  I like mules.

P1130078No bit in his mouth. Loose rope for a halter. Good to go.

P1130087First Sighting of Chinata

P1130121Come on… gently now, you can do this

Mario is still adjusting to the idea of a potential career as a guide. As previously mentioned; this is virgin tourist territory.

My right ankle was in pain from the previous day’s 6 hour hike up and down the Yumbilla trail. I have ankle injuries (both ankles, two different injuries, a year apart from each other).  My right one gets really cranky the morning following a long hike.

Clip clop of mule hooves on rocks/mud/water and bird sounds

This (Chinata) trek required an additional 3 hours round trip foot hike on steep, muddy terrain when the mule gets ‘parked’ for a while. It is certainly possible to hike this whole trail on foot from Cuispes center, no problem. I was taking good care of myself. (part of good robot maintenance) The mule didn’t mind too much and I needed the help.

P1130153Yes, we had to ford a few streams along the way.  I did ask for the mule’s name. It was not Mario’s, if the mule did have a name, Mario did not know it.

P1130186The mule is tied up down below as both Mario and I trek onward and upward on a steep and muddy trail towards Chinata. We crossed two ‘huaycos’ (mudslides) which are normal in this area from Dec to April.

Huaycos are like mud and boulder/rock avalanches. When they start there is no stopping them. Nor is there any preventing them. They will continue to happen in these parts as they have since the Andes were formed.

P1130208Passing nearly vertical sheer rock wall faces along the trail

P1130222A lonely mushroom along the pathway

Saw several types of mushrooms along the way. Mario said some of them are edible and others are not. I don’t know a lot about mushrooms.  Scientific studies suggest that mushrooms may be the single largest life form in the forest. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycelium) Their mycelium; the fungal equivalent of a root system, can attain incredible lengths under the soil.

P1130266Chinata !

The sound of Chinata falls at the lower tier

Chinata falls ranks right up there in the top 50 in the world at 573 meters (1880 ft.) It has three tiers.

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Left Cuipes on mule about 8 AM. Parked the mule somewhere along the trail and continued on foot. 3 hours round trip up/down on foot back to the mule. Arrrived back in Cuispes around 3PM. My right ankle pain was kicking up. Paid Mario for the mule and for his guide services. Asked Mario if he thought we had time to take in one more before nightfall. He said we could take a mototaxi up to the trailhead of Pabellon. He said that the foot path to Pabellon could be done in about 45 minutes round trip. I thought I could handle it… in spite of the fact that it was Friday the 13th. Had a late lunch with the husband and wife proprietors of Hospedaje Rocio. Took a pain pill for my ankle.  Mario returned with the mototaxi around 4PM. There was a light rain on the way to the trail entrance.

Next up: The Pabellon hike

Cuispes/Yumbilla – Two Steps Forward…

Sounds Of Yaku Urku (Quechua for ‘water in the high mountains’) Along The Hike To Yumbilla Falls

Birds and Waterfall Sounds On Trail To Yumbilla Falls

P1120816Above: New Entrance To Yumbilla Falls Trail, 5km from center of Cuispes

Rode a combi/van service from Jaen to Pedro Ruiz on Feb 10, 2015. Spent the night at Casa Blanca hostel in Pedro Ruiz. Following morning I got a mototaxi to take me to Cuispes. All uphill on a gravel road. Evidence of random rockslides (derumbles in Spanish) in several locations, normal for this time of year. Ride to Cuispes took about 25 minutes. Arriving at the small town plaza first stopped in front of La Posada Cuispes (a hostel) where the mototaxi driver beeped his horn several times. There was no response. He then proceeded to the opposite side of the square at the Hospedaje Rocio. A man came outside after the first beep of the horn and I paid the drive and checked in.

P1120800Downtown Cuispes. View Across Central Park. Building To Right is Hospedaje Rocio

Not exactly a great first impression for first time visitors/tourists.  Pedro Ruiz is not exactly a tourist haven, followed by the jarring, uphill mototaxi ride passing eight or ten distinct rock slides to arrive at a tiny village where the managers of the ‘best’ (advertised) hostel (only two exist in Cuispes) don’t bother to answer the door.

But… the best of many things is often hidden behind an unassuming exterior. Such is the case of Cuispes and the stunningly beautiful Natural world that exists a few hours hike further uphill from the town center.

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Above: Some photos of the Yumbilla trail. The man carrying the pick/axe is my guide, Mario

P1120847Above: Vista of the hike. Lower left is the first glimpse of a waterfall prior to Yumbilla

It is a 5km hike from Cuispes center to the entry to the Yumbilla trail. There is a local ‘association’ made up of eight men in the village. The name of the association is Yaku Urcu (spelling?) which means ‘water in the high mountains’ in the Quechua language.  These men are the ones who put immense effort in creating the improvements to the trail, including the entryway, and many, many very heavy rocks, all moved and placed into position by hand, with only steel bars and pick axes for tools. No ‘mechanized’ equipment of any kind.

The trail passes through private ‘chakras’ (small farms). The Yaku Urku association of men are the ones promoting the tourist/visitor trade to the area. They charge the miniscule amount of 10 Soles (about 3 bucks) to enter the trail. They also require that a person or a group hire a guide (a good and necessary thing for tourists). The quoted fee for the guide the day that I went was 30 soles (about 10 bucks).

These efforts are very new.  Yumbilla falls was only recently ‘discovered’ (by non-locals) in the past 10 years or so. It has been measured by competent survey teams and it is, in reality, the fifth highest waterfall in the world.  There are several other notable waterfalls in Cuispes.

P1120881Above: Four members of the Yaku Urcu association. Mario, my guide is another.

P1120882Above: Heigh ho, heigh ho… Every Thursday, Yaku Urcu invest their time and effort creating/improving the Yumbilla trail.

P1120912Above: At the lower tier

P1120946P1120953The above two photos were taken from the same location. Scale is deceptive. The top shows the mid tiers. The lower shows the uppermost tiers. Yumbilla has four tiers. Total drop is 895 meters (2,936 ft.)

On the hike back to the entrance (about five hours round trip) I had an opportunity to help the men improve the trail. About halfway back down from Yumbilla the workers were… working. Francisco, the ‘tesoro’ (the leader) of Yaku Urcu asked if I could  make it the rest of the way back to the entrance because they could use the extra set of hands of my guide, Mario. I knew it was well marked and I had a whistle and my Spot device so I agreed. I also pitched in by humping a few rocks into place and tossing others to shore up the trail. I was invited to share lunch. I agreed, objecting that it was not right for me to work only a little and eat the share of the men that were doing more work. They insisted. I declare myself an honorary member of Yaku Urku.

I have many photos and videos and sound files of my Yumbilla hike, too many to post here. Plants, mushrooms, bromeliads, orchids, butterflys, sounds of smaller streams and the thunder of the larger ones. This post gives only a glimpse of the Natural delights of this amazing place.

(Was going to include my hike to Chinata and Pabellon in this post but will do that another day. My back is aching from the mule ride up and down to the beginning of the foot trail to Chinata and my bronchial issues have returned (am now in Bagua). Did not sleep at all last night because I could not breathe. The small Salbutamol inhaler helped only a little. Got a few pills from a pharmacy after describing my woes. I am re-thinking my original plan of seeing Pongo de Maseriche in favor of going somewhere I didn’t have these bronchial issues. I had NONE of these issues in Cuispes… nor on the hikes there.

Where I was considering going until the asthma showed up here in Bagua: http://www.dendrobates.org/captivus_trip1.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarameriza_%28Peru%29)

Here are a few final tastes of Yumbilla:

P1120971P1120995Heading back down to the entrance (solo)

P1130008A view from the trail heading down

Below is the sound of majestic Yumbilla. Pointed the microphone downwards, 200ft below, towards where the water crashed into the rock/pool at the mid-tiers.

Next post: The Chinata hike which took place on Friday, 13 Feb 2015.

Exited Ecuador… En Route to Yumbilla Falls

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yumbilla_falls

I promised myself (in the Chachapoyas to Pucallpa post: 2014/03/22) that if I were to return to this area I would hike the Yumbilla falls trail. That is my immediate ‘self-assigned’ misson.

I get asthmatic symptoms in the Ecuadorian highlands in the wet season. My body is not adapted to the 3000 different types of plant pollen that get hammered off the plants from the rain in the highlands and then drift on the wind, eventually finding their way to my nose and air passageways. To complicate things further, a few weeks ago I got a ‘bug’ of some kind (others in Vicabamba complained of it, as well).

Crossed the Ecuador/Peru border on the afternoon of Feb 6th.  Have pics and vids of the journey which I will post here later.

Have been resting up for three days in Jaen.  Regaining my strength from the recent bout(s) of bronchial issues. A lady at the pharmacy gave me nine capsules of amoxycilin. (yes, you can buy things like this directly at a pharmacy… just accurately describe your symptoms and the pharmacist will recommend their best guess) Caveat Emptor is the norm in many placed in South America. So, I look up any medications that may be offered and then I try them out for a few days to see if there are any improvements. (I know that Amoxycilin is ineffective on any ‘viral’  issue)

That said; after three days of taking it as prescribed (and much bed rest) I am feeling a little stronger. More good news is that my asthmatic symptoms seem to be improving.

I am now fed, clean, and packed. Ready to make the move toward Bagua Grande, then on to Perdo Ruiz… then see if I can get a mototaxi to take me to the small highland village a Cuispes, from where I will start the Yubilla falls hike.

A good friend recommended that I:

“…Get a new step in my walk…”.

Great advice from a very wise brother.

I am off to create that  ‘New step in my walk’.

More later…  for those who remain interested.

Adios, for now.