San Pablo, Cajamarca via Chilete

February 6th, 2008

It was an interesting but long journey. From the edge of Cajamarca we, along with 4 other strangers and a driver, squeezed into a colectivo taxi and headed on the 3 hour drive down the mountains to Chilete, a highway town that marks the crossroads between San Pablo in the north, Contumazá in the south, Chepén in the west and Cajamarca in the east.

The long journey consisted of speeding around hairpin bends in our overloaded car with a long fall and certain death should the driver make a mistake. Fortunately our fears drifted into the background thanks to the driver, who played dozens of Cajamarca carnival CDs. Rather than worrying at each turn, we were instead smirking as each hilarious verse was sung.

Annett and I both felt sick by the end of the journey. We were very glad to step out of the taxi and have a look where we were, find a bathroom and then transportation to our next destination.

Chilete had a wild west feel about it. It was hot, dusty and dry. The town seemed to be nothing more than a couple of wooden saloon-style restaurants that were falling apart, all loosely placed around a small dusty misshapen plaza. People sat outside, eating or drinking in the sun, passing the time until they could catch a ride on to wherever they were going. Only one of the restaurants happened to have any food that day. We didn’t have time for lunch though, our journey was only half done and it was almost 1pm. If were were going to make it to the ruins of Kunturwasi and back to Cajamarca before nightfall we would have to keep going. We would have to try to find some food later.

There was another colectivo heading to San Pablo, so squeezed in again we headed along a dirt road up the side of a mountain. The journey was interrupted when we reached a road blocked by people trying to pull the wreck of taxi back up the side of a ravine after it had driven off. The car was more or less intact, and the driver had been rushed, luckily with only minor injuries, back into town. Continuing, we passed Kunturwasi on the road, heading direct to San Pablo so we could get our bearings and find out how to return.
We had obviously missed a big party in San Pablo. There were many people finishing off their meals in the plaza on little paper plates, while others took down the market stalls that had been set up. Traditional Andean music was being played very loudly, everyone seemed to have had a good time. Maybe if we had arrived earlier we could have got something to eat, ready made and fast to eat. But no food for us. We stocked up on bottles of water, found where we’d have to return to in order to get back to Chilete and found transport out to the ruins in the form of a small motortaxi.

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