Day 548 - Cajamarca, Peru - 11279 km

When you travel down south from Colombia into Ecuador and Peru the local fashion becomes more and more distinctive. Every region and group of indigenous people has its own traditional dress. A fascinating sight to witness...

Cajamarca is a charming colonial town, where I spend a few days to catch up on some work in an Airbnb on the main square. Right out of the house the street goes steep up to Santa Apolonia, a little chapel on the hillside overlooking the town. The rain season seemed to have complete complete gone. The sun was shining continuously and because the altitude is around 2500m the climate is perfect for walking outside in your t-shirt and enjoying cool nights on the balcony in the evening. A few blocks further is Mercado Modelo, where locals and people from the pueblas come to sell there harvest. From fruits and veggies to the most exotic spices to skinned or alive guinea pigs, a favourite meal in Peru. You can find everything fresh and for a bargain. It’s mostly women on the market, wearing the most colourful outfits and hats so big, they keep you entirely dry in the rain.

Who wouldn’t want to live in a picture perfect town like this? Well, let me tell you the other side of the story. It’s election time in Peru. The names of candidates are painted on every cob house I pass in the countryside. During my last night there is a rally on the main square, right in front of my apartment. The speeches are loud and agressive. Repeated lines, supported by upbeat music. It’s sounds more like a football game then a rally. I should have left a day earlier… I watch the crowd from my balcony. People are screaming, repeating the words and waving with flags. There’s a lot of alcohol going around. At the side of the square is a long line of chemical toilets. From underneath the urine seaps down the gradual slope. Downstairs I ask one of the many policemen on the square when the rally is finished. He says “12am”. Understanding time in Latin America this usually means 1 or 2 am, so it looks like I’m won’t have much sleep tonight.

How quaint and romantic these towns look, the noise is a continuous annoyance in Latin America. Tv’s and radios that are always too loud and play simultaneously. With jittery commercials that get under your skin. Once I was in an Airbnb in Mexico and the alarm was beeping every 15 seconds. I was alone at the house so I texted the host how to turn it off. She didn’t know. She didn’t even mind. I pushed one button and it was turned off. Yesterday I was in a cafe. The tv on with music videos, the radio on with football, a Christmas tree that played ‘jingle bells’ sounding like video game and then the bartender started to play guitar for himself. From outside there’s often the noise of built-in car alarms that go off randomly, neglected dogs that start a barking concert, a police car that has its siren on, waiting behind a red traffic light, first in line… You get the point.

It’s often the reason I go camping, to find some quietness. When I book a hotel I am never sure if I’m going to have a good night of sleep. I’m also never sure if the wifi works, which I need for my work. Living and working on the road sounds to many people like a dream, and often, if things work out, it is like a dream. It’s quite amazing to combine the two things together. But it takes a thick skin and constant adjustment to find and create a environment for yourself where you feel at home, where you can rest and work like you are able to at home. Today that’s not the case. I just have to go out and try to enjoy myself in the crowd. Work and sleep I’ll have to do another time.

Chapel of Santa Apolonia

Chapel of Santa Apolonia