A Lesson in Dualities

A 3 hours bus trip immediately followed by a 10 hours bus trip found Natalie and I walking the newly darkened streets of Cajamarca, “the Cusco of the North.” Slipping into Hotel Pardo, a Lonely Planet pick, we ignored much of the dusty surroundings and headed out for a bite to eat. And Eat we did for the next 5 days! Cajamarca had some of the best food I have eaten in Peru and perhaps in all my travels in both Europe and in the States. To describe a particularly good dish; I had Roast local duck with Andean Mushroom Glaze accompanied by a decoratively shapped gathering of mashed local beans with wallnuts and a large amount of Delicious sprinkled all over. All that for the quite silly price of $7. Indeed we found many delightfully tastey experiences, from sipping fresh soup while listening to classical guitar strummed to an empty restraunt, save a group of ageing brothers and sisters taking out their widowed 80 something year old mother for her birthday, to a Menù of Chicha Morada (a purple corn sweet drink), sauteed spicy shrimp, rice, roast chicken, and beet salad for just slightly less than $3 dollars a person, and even tasting hand made linguini from an Italian-Peruvian chef who makes EVERYTHING right in front of you and talks your ear off about the love of cooking the whole while….. This was coupled with the almost impossible task of every finding any of the restraunts recommended to us through our books, causing us to spend a few hours searching the city, dodging what seemed to be endless civilian living rooms opened up for lunches of what seemed to be chicken cooked the day before and reheated, or not, for their guests….

Further Dualities were found between the beautiful night city scapes, delicicous food eaten to criollo music and the theft of my ipod from an apparently reputable hostal….

Further, We visited Graja Porcòn on my birthday. A farm cooperative one hour outside of the city where indigenous Peruvians had taken it upon themselves, with the lead of an North American Church goer, to seperate themselves from the evils of the outside world, westernism, globalization, and the like. Sounds great, I thought! The one hour combi ride to the farm was filled with rants from our tour guide about the nearby Yanacocha Gold mine, run by Americans, and the recipient of many acusations of poisioning water shed with mercury and other harmful chemicals. He and many locals are quite opposed to the mine for its health and ecological reasons, however, the miners, although simple people, have lovely new large homes with their very weak salaries that are somehow still larger than the average poor of the area. Further still, we heard how bad this North American company is for doing these things and how at Granja Porcòn this is exactly the kind of evils and sins they are trying to escape. Well, indeed they have escaped the main stream Cajamarca, living in a quite remote, newly forested woodlands that they have planted of the last years. The once barron coutryside, deforrested years ago, instead resembles the foothills of the White Mountains in New England… a nostalgic sight. What I found most contradictory however was that all the trees were New Zealand Pine trees, and although it has brought animals back to the area, an alien species such as this must be slightly confused here. Further yet again, the majority of the “farm” is a zoo with many peruvian animals (for those of you with facebook, look to my album of animals or email me for a link), as well as an african lioness… don`t ask me why or how she got there. The people here are apparently very rich according to the guide because they don`t pay for water, electricity or food supplies because they are a religious organization. However they export quite a lot of New Zealand Pines for wood as well as wooden chairs and tables, and some farm produce and products. In their main square of their village they have a hotel, the entrance to the zoo, two resturants, and a variety of craft shops for tourists…. What evils are they trying to escape again…???

Cajamarca gave us many lessons in Dualities, and provided us with some of the most diverse food and cultural experiences yet. Cumbe Mayo and it`s rock forest was particularly breathtaking. (ask us when we get back)

Chiclayo was also fun, and made up the last few days of our journey. It was also the second part of a duality when compared with Cajamarca, a quite mountain town filled with indigenous culture, Chiclayo had it`s culture in the very well kept museo de Sipan, located about 1.5 hours away from the Sipan site, which lies in a somewhat difficult to reach dusty town away from tourists eys, but accessable and recommended for the explorers out there. Sipan is a huge site of eroding adobe pyramids housing many unearthed tumbs and chambers which we had the privilage of hearing about form a local archeologist for no less than 2 hours, while chewing on fresh, sweet sugar cane!

One place kept its culture close yet perhaps still unappreciated, while the other appreciated it, yet kept it locked away in a museum or out of site in remote towns.

What have we taken out of this trip? I honestly don`t know yet. It has flipped my world around, threwn bits of information at me in seemingly unorganized fashions, not dissimilar to the way I write to you all now. What can we learn from the good and the bad? From inverses and condradictions? Perhaps just that they exist……

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One Response to “A Lesson in Dualities”
  1. hey chris, i was really captured by this entry. i didn’t know all the details about the zoo, that’s a real bummer about the dislocation. anyways, i’ve also been looking into the concept of globalization here in berlin, but more in terms of politics rather than nature. when ideas clash, it is the economically more prosperous one that will persevere. one example is capitalism versus socialism, flowing like waves in the collective minds of people on opposing sides of the berlin wall. whichever side could hold on to their way of life longer would outlast the other. i don’t know enough about peru to be offering any specific perspectives about your visit to cajamarca, but i hope you keep going with your entries — they are really stimulating.

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