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mummies, mountains and big hats

PERÚ: LEYMEBAMBA — BALSAS — CELENDÍN

Looking for a tasty snack in Leymebamba proves a little challenging. I pass on the chicken's feet...

... that these lads are selling.

Big hat and little big hat.

Peru is all about mud brick walls.

...

Leymebamba is famous for it’s mummy museum. Over two hundred mummies were discovered in 1997 in a tomb in the cliffs dropping vertically into the nearby Laguna de los Condores.

The first thing that really catches my attention at the the museum is the Cat on the Hat.

The mummies are creepy...

... and fascinating.

Back on the road I go up up up again...

... until a world of mountains is opens up in front of me,...

... a wealth of...

...texture and light,...

... and the road...

... drops down down down,...

...in a clear sixty kilometre descent.

From time to time...

... I catch a glimpse of what lies in store for tomorrow.

Finally, two vertical kilometres below the pass where I started, I arrive in steamy Balsas on the Rio Marañón where I camp for the night in the plaza in front of the police station.

In the morning I cross the bridge..

... and find myself back in a dry deserty world.

The road is a mobius strip: Peruvians are master road builders favouring the well graded switchback over the rough and ready brutal ascents popular in other parts of Latin America.

The endless hairpin bends make for a lengthy ride, though.

...

After 40 linear kilometres, I still have the impression that I could just about reach out and touch Balsas only a kilometre or two down there below me.

The road is narrow and the other traffic fairly indifferent to the well being of a lone cyclist...

... but finally I arrive, without mishap, in Celendin, where I spend the night. Any sizable town has a fleet of speedy motos whizzing around the streets. This one looks like it's about to take off.

Big hats abound here.

In the morning the local market provides all the tasty treats...

... and local colour that you could wish for.

I will be forever haunted by the melancholy cries of doomed guinea pigs.

...

This has got to be the ultimate in BIG big hats.

It is an incredible piece of civic architecture.

{ 1 } Comments

  1. Christopher | July 16, 2013 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    Wow, love the photos of your descent and climb, and of the mountains.

    I’m sure there is a PhD somewhere examining the differences between brutally straight uphill and gentle graded ascents. Here in NZ we have brutal uphill, and I’m sure it’s a cultural thing.

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