The Singing Cricket

The cricket sang last night. They say it’s a sign of departure, and here I am, getting ready to leave.

Ready to wear my backpack again, and to leave the region of Cajamarca after five weeks.

It’s been one month since I landed in Peruvian soil. Five weeks of pure happiness and freedom. Five weeks spent in this lovely village of Baños del Inca.

This first month has been a bit sedentary, having a home base to return to every day. Carmen’s house first and now Hacienda Don Simón together with the other volunteers, finally enjoying the comfort of (hot!) water and WiFi 24/7.

Still, I have been moving every day, visiting the places around here and growing some roots. It’s been amazing to get to know the people of this village, to spontaneously go visit a friend or the children at the kindergartner.

I’m so much in contact with the nature, and I love waking up early in the morning and opening my window to the sound of the cows and the sheep, seeing the farmers with their big straw sombreros passing by. Sam named the two baby cows Cheeseburger and Milkshake: caressing them is so relaxing, as well as touching the sheep’s asses hehe.

It’s been one month since I started living my dream, and I’ve been as happy as ever. Still, my nomadic soul is begging me to put on the backpack and leave the comfort of having a home base.

So, tomorrow, I will be leaving. I’m heading North, to the region of Amazonas: the jungle.

I used these last days in Cajamarca to cross off the last things from my checklist.

On Saturday, I headed with Henna to San Pablo to visit the archaeological site Kuntur Wasi. Little is left of the pre-Inca ruins, except for a couple of interesting idles, so there’s not really much to see. Still, after 1h30 hour ride from Cajamarca, it is a nice walk uphill from the town of San Pablo.

The village is, though, what I really loved. We got a huge menu for 5 S in a small dark restaurant without being given the option to choose – there was only one dish- and then set to explore the town.

We arrived in Cajamarca still full of energies. Here we heard some loud reggaetón playing, and a man waved at us, screaming to join him and his friends for beers. So we did, and we had lots of fun drinking and dancing with our new friends.

On Sunday Henna, Amar and I went to Namora, the city of the guitar. Combis (3 S) leave Cajamarca on a regular basis. We first hiked for a couple of hours until we reached the Laguna San Nicolás. We had a tour on a straw boat for 2 S – the boat itself was pretty cool, but I got bored after 5 minutes, as usual.

Then, we got a ride back to the city from a tour guide, and had the typical trucha frita con papa picantat the market. After wandering in the sleepy town and visiting a couple of shops, we got the now called Namarina for Henna.

Then the not-so-awaited Christmas Eve arrived. The past few days I was growing more and more anxious to leave. Little had been left for me to explore in the area, and I felt the urge to go back to traveling. Christmas was a pretty good distraction.

Rodolfo, one of the men we met after San Pablo, invited us over to his place. I met him early in the morning at the market and went to buy fish and vegetables. Together we cooked my first ever ceviche, then Henna and some friends of his joined us.

It was a dream day: little are the beer and the rum to be blamed, more the general atmosphere. They made music with guitars, panpipe, glasses, spoons. We ate, we drank and we sung surrounded by Rodolfo’s colorful paintings and sculptures. The doors of his studio -and soon-to-be cevichería– were open to the street and passengers would stop by and look inside with curiosity.

And the most marvelous thing was that I was, indeed, there. I left almost ten hours later, tipsy, looking for a combi to get back to Baños in that crowded Christmas Eve. I didn’t have much time to recover from my early hangover: we had to cook for dinner. A quick call to my parents, a half an hour nap and I was ready to cook at the notes of Jingle Bells.

I had found a last-minute dinner invitation on Couchsurfing, and was ready to celebrate the Peruvian way. The girls and I brought our delicacies to Milena’s house, who was nice enough to think about those of us who were traveling and therefore not spending the holiday with their families.

It was a very pleasant evening spent with her family in Cajamarca. The Peruvian tradition is to eat at midnight, so we spent the hours before chatting, playing the guitar and throwing firecrackers. We didn’t make it to the dancing part: the three of us were totally exhausted.

That night I didn’t get much sleep. I had to wake up a couple of hours later to go pick up the new Chinese volunteer, YuXin, at the airport. At 6 I was out; at 6:30 the taxi was still not there. Here’s something I got to learn about Peru: don’t expect anyone to be on time, or to actually show up.

Even if I could have expected it, I was a bit desperate, and I run to the street and started to walk with no idea of how to get there. No taxi seemed to be working on Jesus’ birthday. A farmer gave me a ride to the main street, where I eventually (yey!) managed to get a cab.

After lunch Henna, YuXin and I went to Polloc, a beautiful church built by Italians using a mosaic technique. The church was closed (on Christmas day, really?!), but we could still appreciate its beauty from the cluster’s gate.

I had a delicious chicharrón de trucha with chicha morada, literally from the pond to the plate. The nearby restaurant raises trouts, so you can experience the whole fishing-choosing-cooking-eating process. It was a bit pricey (17 S with the drink), but well worth the price and the wait.

At night Delia, the cook, invited us to eat cuy. Two days before me and the girls had offered her and Elena a massage in the hot springs, and this was her way of thanking us. It was an honor.

She killed one of the guinea pigs from the pen and fried it for us. YuXin loved it and even Amar gave it a second try and actually enjoyed it. It was the best way to say goodbye: the next morning, I took the 9.30 bus to Celendín.

The guinea pig pod at Hacienda Don Simón


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