Like I wrote a while ago, I’ve set myself the challenge of shooting mainly analogue photos during this trip. With the premiere of the project I wrote that it had been quite a challenge indeed so far, but with every film roll I learn new things. From this film I learned for example that I should lower the ISO value of my camera, my beloved Olympus Trip 35, as they only sell super sensitive film here (400 lux). The photos below are therefore for the most part slightly overexposed, but I’ll keep on practicing.
Gocta waterfalls. The German couple that I met on the boat floating down the Amazonas travelled in the same direction as me, and so we found ourselves together in Chachapoyas, a colonial town that serves as a base for day-trips. One of the region’s main attractions are the incredibly high waterfalls of Gocta that, of course, we had to go see. Recovering from a cold that had targeted us in Iquitos (bloody airconditioning), we coughed, puffed and panted our way up the mountain, crossing ominously swinging bridges leading over wildly swirling waters below, and then back down again over a dangerously steep path that was so slippery due to the rain pouring over us that it could have become fatal. The black bulb in the third photo? No idea (but there’s some kid on a horse that I’m trying to show).
The ruins of Kuélap. Another day-trip from Chachapoyas, are the pre-Incan ruins of Kuélap. To get there, you take the only one year old teleférico that will get you to the other side of a steep valley within 20 minutes (instead of a 3 hour road that people had to take before – a spectacular experience in itself. Above you’ll find one of the best intact pre-Incan ruins of the country, where in older days the Chachapoyas people used to live (before they were conquered by the Incans). I passed the day trying to overhear bits and pieces of guides’ stories (I’m travelling cheap) and posing with lamas.
Leymebamba. I found this car wreck at the side of the road on my way to the museum in Leymebamba, one of the country’s better museums. This informational site seeks to tell the story of the pre-Incan cultures that used to populate the region, primarily the Chachapoyas people. Loads of mummies and ceramics.
Cumbemayo. An incredibly photogenic site about an hour-drive away from the city of Cajamarca. The Cajamarca district is mapped as one of the poorest regions of Peru, and this became painfully clear during a day-trip to Cumbemayo. Many locals, mainly children (who should be in school), seat themselves at the side of the path leading along the impressive (naturally shaped) rock formations. Some of them are selling artesania or food, others let their picture be taken in return for a ‘propinita‘ (tip), and some of them are just holding up their hand asking for money and/or medication to fight their fever. Their bodies showing the signs of malnutrition (red eyes, bad skin), encountering them brought my friend from Lima to tears and I felt powerless, heartbroken, angry and ashamed.
Cajamarca. This beautiful colonial city looks European in many ways, except for its people. Cajamarca has a high percentage of indigenous inhabitants and so its streets are filled with the many abundant colours of their wear and countless light-coloured high hats. It was an absolute pleasure to stay in this city, eating good food in a vegetarian restaurant I had found, strolling local markets, meeting new friends and finishing too many days in a row in a clandestine bar with homebrewed liquors of questionable origin. In the café on the photo above we met a local painter, Santiago, who made beautiful paintings and aquarelles depicting local life – the intimidating mountains, the colonial streets, the colourful people. I bought a few watercolour prints that I couldn’t withstand and sent them home over the mail.