Finally I had some time to have a look around the actual town of Chachapoyas. The day trips I’ve been taking here have been quite long; although the distances to the main sites aren’t really that huge, the bendy and often unpaved roads can mean that it takes quite a while to get anywhere. Kuelap, for example, is only 72km from Chachapoyas, but it takes 3 hours to get there in a minibus. So it was nice to be able to have a wander around the place in daylight.
Chachapoyas is a nice little town. Here’s the Plaza de Armas (main square).
The market was interesting. There was quite a lot of tripe and a few unidentifiable substances in the meat section, but nothing too gross.
One of today’s main objectives was lunch. The people I’ve met along the way on the various day trips I’ve done have been very nice. On the Karajia trip I was sat with some students from Lima at lunchtime. I’ve been ordering menu items with descriptive names (pollo a la plancha, lomo saltado etc) but had noted that there were plenty of other items that were a mystery to me. My strategy has been to watch to see if anyone orders anything interesting-looking, then ask them what exactly it is and what it’s called so as to file it away for future reference. The students had something called Cecina, which it turned out was dried smoked pork or beef, which came with rice and fried banana (though I was told that often it’s a kind of fried banana cake rather than sliced banana). They insisted on giving me a bit of each to try, and I concluded that the beef was nothing to write home about but the pork was good. I discovered that this was a speciality of the area, so today might be my only chance to order it……. After much hunting around and deliberation, here’s my cecina lunch:
It’s time now to leave Chachapoyas. Overall, the funerary sites here are amazing, and of course I’ve only seen the most accessible ones. There are lots of other places littered around, though they can involve longish treks through remote areas to get to them. Everyone seems sure that there are plenty more sites to discover – apparently they are now using drones to get video access to some of the higher cliff faces (as the Chachapoya seem to have had little difficulty carrying mummies and building sarcophagi and mausoleums at heights / in difficult locations which mean that we can’t even see them from ground level). The ceramics here are not very good (think primary school….) and although the guide insisted that the textiles were very fine, he meant finely-woven rather than particularly interesting. That’s not a problem though – it would be boring if all of the civilisations here had been equally good at everything.
My next stop is Trujillo, which is another overnight bus journey.