Saturday, 31 March 2012

Kuelep. The Return.

Like a comfortable pair of shoes, the routine here in Chacha is easy to slip back into.  Lunch with Jose and Donna, Dinner with Carlos and Janet, sitting around the Amazonas and enjoying the world going by.   The weather has finally turned, which means some sun every day… although the rain showers still plague me. 

Took a stroll back up the road to Levanto, prepared to battle the dogs again.   Luck was with me because when I got to the same stretch of land that produced the aggressive dogs last time, the farmer was close to the road and called the sweet things off before they could go all pack on me.  Thus spared the trauma of another dog attack I continued up the road enjoying the scenery.

What I was not spared was the sight of an adorable (and I think abandoned) puppy by the side of the road… oh, so tentatively wagging its’ tail and bobbing it’s head as if to say “I’m scared, take me home please”. 

Heart strings tugged, I made sure to check on the little guy on the way back down the road.  This time he was sound asleep, and tears in my eyes I kept on going.  I had no idea how I would find the wee one a home, even should I have taken him.   Back at the hostal I asked all around if someone might be willing to take the pup home, with no ready takers. 

About 8:00 pm I had had enough.  I just couldn’t stand the thought that the little guy would be afraid and cold all night.  Flashlight in hand to try and see the night darkened roadside up I went in search of said orphan.  Looked for two hours to no avail.  The guilt I felt all the way back to the hostal was painful, and I felt I had somehow failed a test.  I went back twice more the next day, but can only hope that his incredible cuteness softened someone else’s heart and he now has a good home.

So what have I been doing since?  Not much, although I did join in on a tour of Kuelep and finally made it to the second platform of Gocta falls.  Both these were done in the company of the warm hearted Brazilian couple that had helped out on the bus ride from Trujillo to Cajamarca.  After running in to Leandro and Luana meandering up the road beside the hostal we spent time together for the next few days until their departure back to the coast to find some sun. 

I so enjoy it when travel connections happen and create a better whole.

The most remarkable thing about revisiting the ruins at Kuelep was listening to the differing explanations about the cultural class setup, and meanings behind the various buildings etc.  Our fluently English speaking guide was earnest and specific, but I was left with many questions because of the discrepancy.  The truth of the matter is that the conclusions drawn are all hypotheses, and it is anyones guess what the truth is.  A few of us had some fun making up our own explanations… and yes, we got quite silly. 

The road up to the ruins was certainly in better condition than a few years back.  Much grading and widening had occurred, and we had a fabulous driver (Magno) who never once had us shaking in our boots.  But because of the heavy rains the night before the trip took much longer than normal, which had us forgoing a stop or two in favour of a rolling explanation.   The river was running incredibly high, with sections of road flooded.  There were also a couple of landslide areas which tried to block our way, but the road repair crew was out full strength and we managed to make it.  We made a quick stop in one of the small towns enroute to place our lunch orders, and veggie options were available.

New this year was information about a discovery of an area of temples and tombs found in a cliff area just below the main Kuelep ruins.  Unfortunately it was not possible for us to get down and view them.   

The path up to the ruins was in much better shape than last time, all stone walkways and stairs… finally it seems the governments are sending some money this way to increase the tourism sector.   It looked for a few minutes like the clouds were going to overtake us and limit our view, but as happens often here in the “valley of the clouds” they just whiffed on by.  

Bromeliad filled trees were everywhere, and here and there were long dangly orchids just preparing to bloom.  Again I was filled with the sense of history waiting to be discovered, as much of the area awaits clearing and ruins are hidden from clear viewing by vegetation.  There was an entire section opened to the public that I had not been able to see previously… can’t remember the reason.  Very impressive stonework and community organization.  Several times I took the opportunity to peek over the edge of the ruins to the cliffs below.  Definitely defendable.   Shudder worthy.  

There were areas dotted throughout the fortress where human bones were visible through small gaps between the stones, an oddly cylindrically shaped building unlike any other on site, a compass stone that was incredibly accurate when tested against a modern day version, and what we were told were guinea pig storage areas.  Again, subject to interpretation.  

At one point it was suggested as a joke that they must have been cannibals, with all the pits containing human bones.  Really, who knows?   Just as much merit as the three family theory, the incan conquest stories, honorary burial site theory, and pick a theory about why there were so many bones found scattered on the surface of one area of the ruins. 

Did miss the huge flock of parrots I saw last time… there were only a scattered few chasing around the treetops. 

On the way down from the ruins we stopped for lunch and, thankfully, a bathroom break.  There was a cute black dog that kept coming around, politely asking for leftovers.  Of course he got some from me… I snuck a guinea pit head off the plate next to me and “dropped” it.

There is a plan to put a cable car up to the ruins from New Tingo, just up from the main road, and after a total of almost seven hours sitting on my ass in a minibus to go around and up the valley this plan has my vote.  I’m just saying.

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