XXI. Celendin to Cajamarca 26-29 May

Return to Cajamarca   26-29 May:
Celendin to Cajamarca

Before leaving Celendin, we wander down to the market to buy some books to send the kids in Chanchillo, do some other errands, and shoot a few photographs.  

The photos include a little frivolous practice at shooting from the hip on the way to the market.  (Rather than bringing the camera up in front of my face, I shoot more subtly, holding it by my side as I walk — with results that ain’t always as I’d like ’em to be.) 

There are also routine market shots.





Among these are shots of a woman combining her duties as vegetable vendor and mother:





This shoemaker, his somewhat proud customer, and the viejo in front of his stall also interested me.
Then we’re on the road again.  It’s a shorter and less eventful drive than most, several hours on passable dirt roads, under often somewhat cloudy skies.  The countryside is pleasant, but a good deal less dramatic than much of what we’ve driven through in recent days and weeks.


Arriving in Cajamarca, we look for the Hostal Hacienda San Antonio, about five kilometers out of town on the road to Banos del Inca.   It ain’t easy to find by driving out from Cajamarca, because the sign for the turn-off is missing.  [If you’re planning to go there, read the explanation below under Travel Notes to see how to get there.  I’ll omit here a description of our initial frustration.]   The place was a working ranch until recently, and still has a few cows and several horses on the premises. 
When we finally do find the place, we’re delighted.  It’s a green and serene location, there’s a bungalow surrounded by grass, and although the price is high for Peru, it includes not only breakfast but horseback-riding.
We sleep marvelously [although in nearly mid-winter we do use the fireplace for warmth each night] and eat well.  (At supper-time the first night, the dining room is closed and completely dark, spawning fears that we may have to wander somewhere in search of supper; but as soon as I ask, the doors open, lights go on, and the cook and someone to serve food show up; and within a reasonable time we have an excellent supper on the table in front of us.)  [See below, in Travel Notes, for additional pictures of Hostal Hacienda San Antonio and the grounds.]
We spend much of each day just hanging around, in the room or on the pleasant grounds, soaking up the peace and quiet – and enjoying not being on a mountain dirt road all day. 
We do ride, through fields and then along a back road to Ventanillas de Otuzco, a pre-Inca site in which more than 200 dead were deposited in large caves in a massive rock.    The ride is fun, through tranquil farm country, though partly along a paved road that is, fortunately, not well-traveled — and traveled by people accustomed to meeting horses on the road.   The site is not one we’d travel very far to see, but it’s interesting.   (We understand that Ventanillas de Combayo is both larger and better cared for; it’s 30 km. from Cajamarca, while the Ventanillas de Otuzco are in walking distance if you like to walk.  [Additional pictures of Las Ventanillas de Otuzco below, in Travel Notes]
The hostal is pretty much deserted.  We see maybe one other couple in three days there. The dining room is darken in the evening, and looks closed, but always opens up when we need to eat supper, and the food is very good. We eat breakfasts there too – and never see anyone else in the place.   Despite the almost eery [but wonderful] isolation, service is prompt and friendly, in the dining room or in the bungalow.

David, the owner, has Peruvian horses. He says our horse-owning friend in Pacasmayo is his uncle [perhaps literally, perhaps just the loose use of “uncle” for an older male who’s a close friend]. We enjoy talking to him. He grew up on the grounds, as his family has owned the hacienda since before it became a hostal as well. He’s a good guy, enjoyable to talk to, with a fairly benevolent spirit toward those less well-off. We ask him where in Cajamarca we should take our car for some minor work and a check-up. He takes it himself to his mechanic, it is magically back in front of our bungalow a few hours later, and the bill is only S./ 80 – plus David hands us S./20 the mechanic found under the seat.

empty Plaza de Armas

empty Plaza de Armas

street vendor

street vendor

We do go downtown, to walk a little, and re-visit the potter from whom we bought some things several weeks earlier.  We have a pleasant snack in Don Poco’s near the plaza, listening to Billie Holiday. 

But mostly we just relax.  We sit around in the room using the Internet or working on video or stills; or we sit around outside, reading,  or lazily watching a couple of horses munch on grass at the edge of the lawn, or playing with the hotel’s dog.  In these pictures he seems to love Ragna and loathe me, but in fact he was as genial and sweet as he was un-handome.



Travel Notes

Hostal Celendin


We stayed, and ate, in the Hostal Celendin.   A night’s lodging was S./37.50 [about U.S. $ 13-14 at the time], for a pleasant matrimonial room with a view of the Plaza de Armas, and places to sit on the balcony overlooking the courtyard.  [See slightly longer discussion in previous section, XX.]


Hostal Hacienda San Antonio. U.S. $55 per night, for a bungalow with a fireplace and plenty of room. Incluido desayuno y caballos. Peace, quiet. Good food. Good showers. Good service. Friendly owner. Amusing dog. Highly recommended if it fits your budget. (It didn’t really fit ours, but we needed it after the journey from Chachapoyas.) 

Note: If you are driving, note that at least as of mid-2008, as you drive from Cajamarca toward Los Banos del Inca, the turn-off toward the Hostal Hacienda San Antonio is unmarked by any sign for the hotel. It’s a dirt road going left at a right angle, just past a gas station on your left, and is marked by a sign for a restaurant. If you miss the turn, go almost to Banos del Inca then turn around, and on your way back the turn-off [now on your right and just before a gas station] is marked by a sign for the hotel.  Turn right, then go maybe ½ km. to a T intersection, restaurant to left and hotel to right.   Turn right and meander toward the hotel, which you can’t miss once you reach it.








We ate suppers at the hotel, and enjoyed them.

In town, we did find Don Poco’s this time, and enjoyed it one lunch-time. I enjoyed a good veggie-burger, Ragna liked whatever she ate, and we both enjoyed Billie Holliday on the CD-player. Pleasant place, convenient to the Plaza de Armas.
Other Points:

 Pottery remains worth looking at while in Cajamarca – the prices are wonderfully low, but it can cost much more to ship your purchases to another continent. We bought a few sets of matched vases like these from Oscar Huacha [oscarhuaccha@hotmail.com  – note that the e-mail address is correct with two c’s in his last name.]  for S./ 170 – but shipping from Lima to Iceland was going to be around $500 for one set plus a couple of other items.  (Shipping from Cajamarca to Lima is cheap, and we had no trouble picking up the items in Lima.) Presumably shipping to Iceland is higher than shipping to U.S. or U.K.; but be aware that shipping costs are likely to dwarf purchase price.

 As noted above, Ventanillas de Otuzco is worth a visit, and close to town.  



















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