2 Months in Peru—May 6, 2015—Day 38.
06.05.2015 - 06.05.2015 65 °F
We were up early (about 6:30) as usual, and jumped in the shower. The promised “hot showers” turned out to be “about 2º warmer than the cold water showers!” This situation turned the experience into the infamous PTA type of shower. We met Ega and Pamela for desayuno, and their morning ablution experience had been the same . They did report that the last evening’s shower had been a reasonably warm affair. We attributed the cold morning shower to perhaps a solar hot water heater. We had seen quite a few solar heaters of the type manufactured in China , on the roofs of the Campasino’s adobe homes, while traveling over the mountains.
The tour bus arrived promptly at 0815, and we recognized several other people who had been on yesterday’s bus from Celedin. We drove several blocks to the Plaza and picked up our guide for the day, Hernando. It was a 2 hour drive to the Fortress, with a 15 minute stop in a pueblo to order almuerzo, to be served on the return trip.
The route to Kuelap used to start at a place called Tingo Viejo, and followed the old trail with an elevation gain of about 1200 meters, and a distance of 9.8 km.
Now we can drive to within 2km of Kuelap, which leaves only a 100-200m gain in elevation to reach the ruins. Within 2 years the Peruvians are scheduled to complete an aerial tram across the deep valley that will put tourists at the same elevation as Kuelap, and only a couple hundred meters from it’s entrance.
Kuelap itself is an awesome ruins, built by the Chachapoyan kingdom starting in 500AD, and under continuous construction until 1493 when the Incas conquered and absorbed the “Jungle Kingdom” into their empire. The Fortress city sits on top of a 3000 meter (9952 ft.) limestone mountain with good views all around. Some “authorities” have claimed that more stone went into the building of Kuelap, than the building of the Cheops pyramid in Egypt!
The ruins consist of defensible walls enclosing an area 700 meters long and 300 meters wide with over 400 circular living structures built on two levels.
The living structures were topped with steep grass-thatched roofs. Most had a partial second level for sleeping, and a corral or area to contain Guinea Pigs (Cuy). In addition using the Cuy for food, the Chachapoyans also used them to keep warm while sleeping ( how would you like to cuddle up in bed with a few Cuy for warmth?) One guide told me that the dead, eviscerated Cuy were used as pillow when sleeping, but I failed to ask the follow-up questions like: “Exactly how did that work? “
There are also work areas and religious structures that have been identified. The group followed the guide as he meandered through the ruins for about 3 hours explaining the purpose and significance of the various areas and objects.
Before we left the Fortress Rick found the 3 resident llamas!
We returned to the parking area at about 4pm and headed to the pueblo restaurant that was preparing our much needed meal. Then Back to Chachapoyas where we shared a few beers with our new friends Ega and Pamela from Chile.
We started to pay the bill, and Rick could not find his wallet! He checked his clothes and pockets multiple times to no avail! Earlier in the evening he had left the bebida cafe to book two tickets on the Chiclayo bus, because we had just found out the road was cleared of landslides and it was again running on that route.We really do not know what happened to the wallet, but the best guess is that it fell out a shallow pocket in his rain coat while walking back to the cafe, somewhere on the Plaza.
Oh well, another personal donation to a Peruvian in need. The biggest problem is now we are down to one bank card for automatic teller withdrawals!