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Sorry Machu Picchu, #2 > #1

Chachapoya, Peru- When any person first sets their sights on Chachapoya they may not be blown away but their not too disappointed either. It’s the capital of Amazona but that also doesn’t mean a lot. When I first showed up I didn’t care what the town was like. I just wanted to sleep. I had [...]

Chachapoya, Peru-

When any person first sets their sights on Chachapoya they may not be blown away but their not too disappointed either.

It’s the capital of Amazona but that also doesn’t mean a lot.

When I first showed up I didn’t care what the town was like. I just wanted to sleep. I had a 13 hour overnight bus ride that was proceeded by a 9 hour wait in Trujillo which was only proceeded by another over night 9 hour bus ride.

Once I awoke I was walking through the streets thinking, “This town is small, but it is the capital of a province which means there has to be some scene on the weekend.” Looking for somewhere to go I asked to women that were walking down the street with purpose (I.e. dressed up for a night on the town).

“Disculpe me. Una pregunta.”….“What’s happening in this town tonight?”

With those simple words I was escorted to the nearest club and spent the first part of the night drinking dancing with the both of them. Envious eyes staring on trying to steal one of the two away. With no luck they quickly realized their fruitless effort. As did I. They had to go home so I walked them to a cab and wished them a good night and went off for another beer.

The beer culture in the northern part of Peru is interesting. I was confused the first time I ordered a beer with a group of people. One small glass was placed on a table with the number of liters of beer that we ordered.

“Umm…Where’s my glass?”

I received blank stares as the small glass was filled, drunk and then passed onto the next person to repeat the process. Interesting. Like everything else beer is shared. One glass, X number of people. Throughout the night I continued to meet, greet and drink from the same glass from more strangers than I care to admit. The northern part of Peru is far more friendly than the south. Everyone wants to know who I am and what I’m doing in their town. Foreigners willing to stay out late and socialize is, apparently, a rare sight.

I drank, I socialized and I drank a little more. From the same glass.

After dancing the night away I walked out of the club just before 5:00 am. A little more then a block away there was a brawl going on with several young Peruvians pummeling a guy on the ground. I showed up just in time to witness a boot introduce itself to a jaw. I recognized a majority of the men giving the beat-down as we had shared more than a few small glasses of beer. Without thinking I jumped in the middle to break things up. Being a foot taller than anyone else has it’s advantages.

I then found out the one owning the unfortunate jaw that was introduced to the boot had started the fight. “8 vs. 1? Really? You thought that was a good idea?” I asked.

He mumbled something incoherently as I shoved him down the street and directly into a cab for him to think about his stupidity as the taxi drove him home.

The others, not phased by the incident, were more concerned about me walking the next 1.5 blocks to my hotel with out being bothered. I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony as I hailed them down another taxi.

The city walls of Kuélap

Two hours later I was up and out the door to check out Kuélap. Like Machu Picchu its some more strewn about rocks on the side of a mountain. Its touted as Peru’s second most important archaeological ruins but the vibe given off is nothing like the most important ruins. Unlike ‘#1,’ #2 doesn’t receive 2,500 visitors a day. It probably doesn’t receive 2,500 visitors in a week. #2 also isn’t on any main tourist trail nor does it cost almost $50 to enter; more like $3.

The walled off city was built by the Chachapoyans around 800 AD making it older than Machu Picchu. The ruins themselves are more impressive and I enjoyed viewing them more than Macchu Picchu. A few hours of looking at old houses, walls, and a few human bones used as land-fill in the walls I was content and ready to get back to Chachapoyas and move further north to Ecuador.

Photos of Kuélap

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Filed under: Cubicle Ditcher, Peru

About the Author:

Sam Langley left a comfortable and profitable job with an insurance company in the USA to travel the world. He has been going for years, and has not stopped yet. Keep up with his travels on his blog at Cubicle Ditcher. has written 147 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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