Cajamarca is often considered the Cusco of the Northern Peruvian sierra, though smaller and not overcrowded with tourists. We arrived two days ago. There’s lots of stuff to see and do in and around Cajamarca, but what we really want to do when we arrive in cities is rest and eat. After a while, we get tired of eating the same rice based meals that we find out on the road.
Cajamarca by night:
We found bakery a few doors down from our hotel that makes a really good apple strudel. Then there are the are the street venders whom we’ve found, including the muffin man, churros lady, and the guy who grills up 2 sol ($0.70) hamburgers with a fried egg on top.
We’ve been to the market a handful of times and were excited to find almonds, pistachios, olives, chocolate and all variety of fruits and veggies (some hard to find ones, like broccoli). And a very cute old lady talked me into buying over 2 lbs of quinoa. We found a coffee shop with a quiet ambiance, great coffee and speedy internet. And ice-cream, we found really good ice-cream.
Cajamarca also has tons of cheese and dairy shops. Yesterday we bought a block of provolone and mozzarella, a bag of fresh bread, some veggies and ate cheese sandwiches. This was after eating 2+ lbs of queso fresco earlier this week. As such, Scott declared today a cheese-free day. Though, unable to help ourselves amid this much dairy goodness, we bought a block of butter today, more bread, some marmalade and made butter-marmalade sandwiches. I may have finally met my dairy threshold.
Traditional women of Cajamarca (I love the hats and double braids down the back):
All this eating makes us terribly tired. We struggle with the balance of resting and playing tourist when we arrive in a city. We feel guilty for not doing all the things listed in the guidebooks. We also have FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out, a Leah expression). We worry that we’re missing out on something awesome because we were too tired/lazy/unmotivated to get out and do more. Speaking of Leah, we ran into her here in Cajamarca, as well as Martina who we hung out with at the Casa Ciclista near Quito.
Yesterday we found a compromise in the Baños del Inca. We could be out doing something and relaxing at the same time. Located a short bus ride outside the city, the Baños are steaming-hot thermal baths which date from pre-Inca times. I can’t remember the last time we had a hot soak in a tub. Hot showers are rare and tubs haven’t been seen since we left the States. It was heavenly. We spend so much of our time feeling uncomfortable (hot, cold, wet, dirty, hungry, tired, sunburned, windburned, lactic acid burn by day, muscle cramps by night) that it felt amazing to soak and submerge ourselves in the warm embrace of a thermal spring. We could feel our muscles crying out, THANK YOU! We had a private room so we could control the water temperature and not have to be bothered with bathing suits.
Steam rising from hot pools:
We were going to leave Cajamarca today, but FOMO kept us here. We walked about town a bit more, visited the churches and were underwhelmed by some museums. Satisfied that we can check a few more boxes of stuff we did, we’ll head out tomorrow, back into the mountains.
My favorite part of one museum was this quote…so true.