Pedro Ruiz to Chachapoyas......
After waiting for 3 1/2 hours in Pedro Ruiz, we took the taxi to the blockade to wait in a line of about 20 cars and big trucks. The road is only open between 4-6am and 7-9pm each day because it is primarily a one-way road and has much construction. Anyhow, we waited for about 2 more hours at the barracade and then sat in the taxi, anxiously awaiting the opening.
What happened next was similar to something I had seen in a movie, it was complete madness. The barricade opened, horns began blarring, lights began flashing, and everyone was attempting to get to the front of the line. Our taxi was right in there, attempting to get to the front without being crushed by a massive long-load truck. It was like demolision derby: cars sliding in the mud, trucks trying to run cars off the road, all the while blarring on their horns. We were laughing hysterically as we bounced and slid around the back seat of the taxi. After tailing 3 feet behind the last big truck, we were finally in front of the line and on our way. This epic taxi ride will forever live in my memory.
Chachapoyas and Kuelap....
The next morning we had booked a trip to Kuelap- ancient pre-Incan ruins. It took us about 3 hours to get there and the drive was beautiful. The road ran along a fast flowing river and then ascended onto a road that switchbacked up the mountains to Kuelap (3100 meters). It was constructed around 900 ad and was home to the Chachapoya people (People of the clouds) until the Inca captured it in the late 15th century. The fortress is about 700 meters long, 6-12 meters high, 7 meters underground and 6 meters deep. Its design was strictly to keep out other warring tribes. Supposivly, it housed between 3000-4000 people (quite a bit larger than Machu Picchu) that all lived in round houses on the top of the fortress. Much of it has been overtaken by jungle- but that gives it a sort-of Indiana Jones-like feel to it. Much of the stone structures are still intact and some groups have begun restoring some of the round houses as well as the inkwell. I have to say that Kuelap was well worth the 2 day journey it took us to get there. I was absolutly in awe!
Chachapoyas is one of the most friendly towns I have visited on this trip. Not much else to say about the town itself- it is just surrounded by hills and is pretty dusty and dry (except for today it is pouring rain). The central plaza is attractive also. The best thing about Chachapoyas is all of the excursions you can do around it. Kuelap is not the only ruin around, there are actually about 8- many of which take a several day hike back into the mountains. You could spend weeks here and still not see it all. I couldn´t recommend this place enough!
Tonight I am headed on a 10 hour night bus to Chiclayo near the coast. This will be the first time this trip I will be near the ocean and I am looking forward to it! I am planning on visiting the ruins of Sipan before heading up to Mancora for a day. After that, I begin my journey back to Ecuador.
Hope everyone is well!